This article examines arts participation as a context for youth to develop purpose. Two analyses were conducted of interviews with arts-involved youth to explore the relationship between their arts participation and purpose, which was defined as an “intention to accomplish something that is both meaningful to the self and contributes to the world beyond the self” (Damon, Menon, & Bronk, 2003). First, a grounded theory analysis examined interviews with 53 arts-involved youth to understand what motivated their arts participation. Relating to others emerged as an important motivation for young artists. Second, a longitudinal analysis examined interviews with 29 arts-involved youth who were interviewed twice over two years. Artistic purpose was unstable. Adolescents lost meaning in their artistic activity as they transitioned from school to work, suggesting that purpose development is complicated by the challenge of pursuing an artistic career.
©2015. Used with permission of the National Art Education Association