Introducing Dr. Harlow

Feature Article »
By Jeff Young, Professor of Art, Art Education »

Dr. Harlow has built a state, regional, national, and international reputation in art education.

The Department of Art and Design welcomes Dr. Trina Harlow to UCA. Dr. Harlow joins the faculty as a tenure-track assistant professor of art education this fall. Her background and experience in teaching make her a welcome addition to our program.

Dr. Harlow has a state, regional, national, and international reputation in art education and is a sought-after speaker. In the summer and fall of 2020, she spoke at fifteen state art education conferences including conferences in California, Arkansas, Kansas, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Virginia. She also consulted with state art education associations in New Mexico and Alabama on how to host a digital conference. She was a guest speaker at meetings for Nebraska, Ohio, and South Carolina art education associations and various school districts. Dr. Harlow has been working diligently to help art educators and art education survive the challenges of 2020.

For the last six summers, Dr. Harlow has led university courses and professional development workshops for art teachers in and around Santa Fe, New Mexico. A highlight of the workshop is making pottery at the home of Rose Pacheco, Robert Tenorio, Billy Veale, and family at Kewa Pueblo.

She has served in various positions with the Texas and Kansas Art Education Associations and looks forward to getting involved with Arkansas Art Educators. She has been highly involved in the National Art Education Association in a variety of capacities, including serving on national platform committees, attending the annual Delegates Assembly and the Western Region Leadership Conference, leading national webinars, serving on national convention planning committees, as well as presenting at the national convention more than 20 times. She served on the National Art Education Association Research Commission’s Professional Learning through Research Working Group for the last four years and currently is serving as President of the NAEA Public Policy and Arts Administration Group for two years, as part of a six-year term which also includes serving as president elect and past president.

In 2020, she was awarded the Emerging Scholar Award by the Arts in Society Research Network. Dr. Harlow is an associate editor of the peer-reviewed Art Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal. She co-directed the documentary film Refuge in the Heartland and edited and authored the companion book, Journey to Refuge: Understanding Refugees, Exploring Trauma, Best Practices for Newcomers and Schools. She invited scholars in refugee studies, education, and trauma to join these projects. Both are available free on the Internet.

On March 11, 2020 she founded the Online Art Teachers (K-12) Facebook Group, which is now much more than a social media group and has over 17,000 members. Through OATK12 – a service project by art teachers for art teachers in uncertain times – she works with a remarkable team of art education leaders from across the United States in mentoring and collaborating with art teachers from across the world and has led two international digital conferences for the group that were attended by over 2,000 art educators. The group’s website is

Dr. Harlow co-led the Meow Wolf Dragons of the World Project as part of 2017 International Folk Art Alliance & Meow Wolf’s celebration of folk art from around the world. Four enormous dragons, designed, made, and carried by over 100 youth and other volunteers, were part of the International Folk Art Market’s opening night processional.

She served as the education outreach coordinator – a volunteer position – for the International Folk Art Alliance in Santa Fe, New Mexico for two years and a volunteer in other capacities for ten years. As a part of this effort, she led over 50 children’s art making workshops all over northern New Mexico, hosted folk artists from several countries at her former university, and led professional development workshops for art educators in Santa Fe.

She received her bachelor’s degree in clothing and textiles from Kansas State University, attended the Paris Fashion Institute, studied oil painting and Renaissance art history in graduate level courses in Italy as part of her master’s degree in art education from Boston University, and received her PhD in curriculum and instruction with an art education emphasis from Kansas State University. She has been a teacher for over 28 years and has taught all levels of K-12 school art. She also taught school short-term in Uganda, Ecuador three times, and Switzerland. While most of her art education career has been in Texas, she was the program coordinator and instructor for the art education program at Kansas State University for the last six years. Dr. Harlow’s research focus is social emotional learning, folk art, refugee studies, and storytelling through art making.

For two summers, Dr. Harlow has led professional development workshops for art educators in Eyeries, Ireland. A highlight of the workshop is riding a cable car to Dursey Island for touring, hiking, a picnic lunch, and a watercolor workshop.

A tireless supporter of art education, she is committed to visual art education and the value that art brings to the lives of children, adolescents, and adults. She looks forward to settling into life in Conway, Arkansas and being on faculty at UCA. It is an honor for her to be working at UCA as her father’s family has been from Arkansas for many generations and coming to Arkansas has been an important aspect of her life since she was a child. Some of her earliest memories are of watching her Grannie Cole sew beautiful quilts out of worn out clothing on a hand-crank sewing machine and then on the first electric Singer sewing machine. Her dad’s family is very large and her grandparents’ worldly belongings were very meager, but four years ago a cousin actually gave Dr. Harlow her grandmother’s sewing machine – the metal machine from her childhood memories that most likely inspired her creative spirit.