Dr Karen Maras

Dr Karen Maras

Associate Professor

BArtEd MArtEd PhD

Arts,Design & Architecture
School of Education

Dr Karen Maras, is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales. She is also Deputy Head of School (Learning & Teaching). Her research and scholarship specialisations include learning and development in Visual Arts education, as well as curriculum and assessment practice in school and higher education contexts. 

In her research Dr Karen Maras investigates the ontological bases of critical reasoning in art. A key focus of this research is on how students' intuitive theories of art develop, are conceptually structured, and shape the practicalities of knowledge construction and learning progression in the Visual Arts. Karen has established a realist framework for understanding how and on what terms students develop critical theories of meaning in art. More recently she has extended this research to address the cognitive foundations of critical and creative thinking and the relationships of these forms of thought to practical and conceptual reasoning in art. This research assists teachers in understanding how students’ theories and understandings of art develop with age and how theoretical repertoires can be developed and applied as frameworks of meaning when interpreting artworks and art practices in the classroom. Her interest in critical development in art arises from her experience in secondary teaching, her interest in philosophical aesthetics, theoretical frameworks and conceptual development in art.

Karen began her career in teacher education at COFA UNSW, now the School of Art & Design. There she completed her undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral studies. Karen’s contributions to pre-service Visual Arts teacher preparation are grounded in her experience in secondary visual arts teaching. She also teaches in the areas of curriculum and pedagogy theory and practice at postgraduate level in teacher education programs. Her interest in curriculum theory and issues is also informed by her ongoing and extensive experience developing Visual Arts Curriculum K-12 in state and national contexts. Before coming to UNSW Karen led programs in Visual Arts teacher education at Australian Catholic University. Karen has also held a range of leadership roles as Head of School at ACU and also as Deputy Head of School, Learning & Teaching at ACU and UNSW Sydney with particular responsibility of the accreditation of Initial Teacher Education Programs.


+61 2 9385 2542
116 Goodsell Building
  • Book Chapters | 2017
    Mannninen A; Maras KE, 2017, 'Challenges and realities: engaging students with contemporary art in Finnish and Australian Art Classrooms', in Tavin K; Hiltunen M (ed.), Experimenting FADS: Finnish Art-Education Doctoral Studies, Otava Book Printing Ltd, Finland, pp. 102 - 112
    Book Chapters | 2010
    Maras K, 2010, 'Playing the game through: Making a thesis in art education a ‘real thing’', in Forrest D (ed.), The Doctoral Journey in Art Education: Reflections on Doctoral Studies by Australian and New Zealand Educators, edn. 1, Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, Victoria, pp. 181 - 196
    Book Chapters | 2007
    Maras K, 2007, 'Creativity, theory building and art learning', in Butcher J (ed.), Making a Difference: Challenges for Teachers and Teacher Education, Sense, Rotterdam, pp. 109 - 123
  • Journal articles | 2023
    Maras K; Shand B, 2023, 'Critical and Creative Thinking as a Form of Making in Art Education', Studies in Art Education, 64, pp. 23 - 39, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00393541.2022.2154523
    Journal articles | 2021
    Maras K, 2021, 'Ahead of its time? Reassessing what is core content in Visual Arts in the New South Wales Curriculum', Curriculum Perspectives, 41, pp. 175 - 185, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s41297-021-00136-6
    Journal articles | 2019
    Maras K, 2019, 'Reconciling critical and creative thinking capabilities and critical practice in Visual Arts education: A work in progress', Australian Art Education, 40, pp. 262 - 276, https://www.arteducation.org.au/
    Journal articles | 2018
    Maras K, 2018, 'A Realist Account of Critical Agency in Art Criticism in Art and Design Education', International Journal of Art and Design Education, 37, pp. 599 - 610, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jade.12206
    Journal articles | 2017
    Maras KE, 2017, 'Mind, language and artworks as real constraints on students’ critical reasoning about meaning in art', International Journal of Art & Design Education, TBC, pp. 1 - 11, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jade.12152
    Journal articles | 2013
    Maras K, 2013, 'What ACARA 'forgot' : Opening up the space for a conceptual framework for Visual Arts in the Australian curriculum', Australian Art Education, 35, pp. 24 - 37
    Journal articles | 2010
    Maras K, 2010, 'Age-related shifts in the theoretical constraints underlying children’s critical reasoning in art', Australian Art Education, 33, pp. 20 - 28
    Journal articles | 2010
    Maras K, 2010, 'Condition critical: A misdiagnosis in the treatment of critical practice in the proposed curriculum for Visual Arts', Australian Art Education, 33, pp. 15 - 19
    Journal articles | 2010
    Maras K, 2010, 'Does one size really fit all? How does Visual Arts fair as a knowledge domain in proposals for an Australian Curriculum for the Arts?', Australian Art Education, 33, pp. 35 - 45
    Journal articles | 2009
    Barbousas J; Maras K, 2009, 'Pre-service visual arts education in an Australian context', International Journal of Learning, 16, pp. 683 - 694, http://dx.doi.org/10.18848/1447-9494/cgp/v16i10/46680
    Journal articles | 2009
    Maras K, 2009, 'Children as art critics: Mapping a continuum of aesthetic learning in visual arts education', International Journal of Learning, 16, pp. 251 - 262, http://dx.doi.org/10.18848/1447-9494/CGP/v16i07/46443
  • Conference Papers | 2021
    Maras K, 2021, 'This time without ‘feeling’: Children’s intuitive theories of art as a logical basis for learning progression in visual arts', in Research Conference 2021: Excellent progress for every student: Proceedings and Program, Australian Council for Educational Research, presented at Research Conference 2021: Excellent progress for every student, http://dx.doi.org/10.37517/978-1-74286-638-3_3
    Conference Papers | 2001
    Maras K, 2001, 'Mapping Children`s Theory of Critical Meaning in Visual Arts MAR01194', in AARE Conference Papers - Electronic, AARE, Victoria, presented at AARE 2001: Crossing Borders: New Frontiers for Educational Research, Fremantle, WA, 02 December 2001 - 06 December 2001
    Conference Proceedings (Editor of) | 2000
    Weate A; Maras KE, (ed.), 2000, '9th occasional seminar in art education: Bodies of Work and the Practice of Art Making', COFA, UNSW, presented at 9th occasional seminar in art education: Bodies of Work and the Practice of Art Making, COFA, UNSW

Professional teachers Council NSW Outstanding Service Award 2013

Karen has been instrumental in providing outstanding strategic leadership for professional development evidenced in VADEAs annual conference programs, in-service events, research symposiums, public forums, and resultant teacher resource publications. Karen is recognised as a leading voice in art education in NSW and nationally.


Australian Learning and Teaching Council Teaching Citation

In 2011 Karen received an ALTC citation for her outstanding contribution to Visual Arts teacher education through development of curricula, resources and services that reflect a command of the field.  This award demonstrates Karen’s commitment to modelling curriculum practices and professional qualities that develop teachers’ reflective critical dispositions enabling them to sustain high quality learning outcomes for their students in schools. Her university teaching, consultancy and advocacy at state and federal levels is grounded in a commitment to building professional identity and ensuring the intellectual value of Visual Arts education is recognised in education.



Art Education Australia (AEA)

Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE)

National Art Education Association (NAEA)

International Society for Education through Art (InSEA)

Visual Arts and Design Educators Association NSW (VADEA)

Current professional Activity

Research and Publications Officer, Visual Arts and Design Educators Association, NSW (2014)

Reviewer for:

Australian Journal of Art Education

International Journal of Art and Design Education