Cultural Appreciation or Cultural Appropriation? When Cultural Studies Meets Creativity, an Autoethnographic Narrative

Dr. Sandrine Han
Associate Professor of Art Education
Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, UBC

Friday, February 26, 2021 | 11:00 am to 12:30 pm (PST) | via Zoom

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From Marcel Duchamp’s portrayal of Mona Lisa with facial hair to Andy Warhol’s painting of Campbell’s Soup Cans, artists have used creative license to appropriate and/or modify other’s work for their own interpretation. However, appropriation is not always about purely representing another’s work; it is sometimes tangled in political, economic, global, and cultural hegemony, particularly in virtual worlds where it can create a Third Culture. The Third Culture is a worldwide intercultural mix of cultures created by residents who speak different textual languages. Virtual world residents create and recreate their own and other cultures’ visual representations to promote their virtual products or ideologies. In the Third Culture, the meanings of images are built and negotiated by the Third Culture residents. This paper contemplates artistic creativity and whether cultural appropriation can lead to cultural appreciation in the virtual world of Second Life through a research-based conversation between Kristy, the female avatar of this art educator/researcher, and Freyja, a Taiwanese research participant, interspersed with the real-life thoughts and experiences of the author.


Sandrine Han is an art educator. Her research interests are in the fields of art education, technology, semiotics, visual culture, cognitive psychology, visual communication, and visual literacy. Her current research focuses on the visual culture of the virtual worlds and social media, applying virtual world to art education. She is interested in how people learn from the 3D gaming world and how educators can use the 3D gaming world as an educational tool for both academic and vocational education.