The story of PZ’s influence in arts & education is at the core of the story of PZ itself. The role of the arts in education and the nature of learning in and through the artsfrom PZ’s conception to current-day projects, including Arts Propel, Artful Thinking, collaborations with the Silk Road Ensemble, and morehave been central to PZ’s research. Participants in this session will examine questions at the core of this work and explore how the foundations of PZ’s arts-centered research may influence its future.


  • What and when is art and art-making?
  • What are the cognitive aspects of engagement in the arts?
  • How can artistic processes inform human development in other domains and professions?


  • Curiosity and questions in the arts are linked to the human need to make meaning. Such inquiry is the genesis of all learning.   
  • Works of art are designed to engage people in consideration of the deep complexities of human experience. They have the power to provoke curiosity and the desire to come to deeper understandings. 
  • The work of artists is to inquire and explore through making. In a sense, they make their learning visible in their products. In turn, their works catalyze curiosity and inquiry in others. Cycles of inquiry, research, and learning are inherent in all serious artistic experiences. 

Languages of Art

Published: 1976
This small but significant bookdrawing upon psychology, linguistics, theory of mind, technology, and the sciences presents an approach to a theory of symbols. It is... Read more

Invented Worlds: The Psychology of the Arts

Published: 1982
Unlike other human universals—language, tool use, the family—art makes no material contribution to mankind's survival. Dealing with the three major art forms: painting, music... Read more

The Intelligent Eye: Learning to Think by Looking at Art

Published: 1994
In this unique contribution to the literature of arts education, David Perkins explains why looking at art requires thinking and presents an argument for the value of looking... Read more

Another Safe Haven: Portraits of Boulevard Arts Center Then and Now

Published: 1996
This work documents the struggle and effectiveness over time of this Chicago center. 1996. Read more