Vol. 19 No. 1 (2023): International Journal of Education Through Art
IJETA 19.1 Table of Contents
Art, sustainability and partnerships
Victoria Pavlou, Frederick University
Raphael Vella, University of Malta
Viewing sustainability as a process rather than a goal places artists, designers and art educators in a key position to contribute to sustainability. Following Anthony Giddens’s theories of structuration and socialization, we can see that established values, world-views, structures, rules and norms influence human behaviour. However, as individuals begin to recognize the potential of reflexivity and ask themselves how change is possible, they learn to modify their behaviour. Art education needs to promote reflexivity in order to contribute to a sustainable process of change. Artistic practices and art education stress the value of shaping the self and our relations with others, and can lead learners to transcend common boundaries through creative thinking and imagining alternative realities. Partnerships forged by art educators amongst themselves and with other stakeholders can create new spaces of experience and empower individuals to achieve change. This Special Issue explores how art educators, activists and artists engage with processes of educational, cultural and political change and embrace sustainability inside and outside school.
Art activism: Art of dissent
Mary Grace Vella, University of Malta
Moviment Graffitti has, for the last 25 years, been active against the oppression and exploitation of people, animals and the environment with a vision of freedom, justice and radical democracy. Traversing different media, genres and styles, Moviment Graffitti has a dynamic, symbiotic and powerful relationship with art. This article will look at Graffitti’s passionate use of art as a pedagogical tool to create awareness and bring forth social change through the aesthetics of activism and the art of dissent. It explores the role, meaning and paradox of political art through the movement’s artistic sub-groups and the main artistic initiatives embarked upon. Deliberately eschewing the elitism of the art establishment, the commodification of education and culture and depoliticized notions of sustainability and development through art edu/activism (eduvism), Graffitti reappropriates art to agitate educators in revolutionary pedagogy to become pivotal actors in the promotion of progressive social change.
Cultural engagement as a learning environment in the artistic encounter zone
Rolf Laven, University College of Teacher Education Vienna
In the middle of Vienna between the locations of a sculptor’s studio and an educational campus Spalowskygasse (‘Bildungsgrätzl Mariahilf’), an artistic encounter zone is being created through the participation of artists, schools and neighbourhood residents. This artistic intervention employs service-learning and engaged learning approaches. Based on cultural heritage and local history, plans for using various found materials and employing processes of recycling and upcycling have been developed. Such an artistic encounter zone initiates a public creative discourse. It aims to expand the circle of participants beyond already established knowledge alliances to create new synergies. The concept provides for broad participation from art and cultural institutions, schools, universities and social institutions. Participants are invited to take the initiative in community learning activities. This article reports on the initial phase of this service-learning project where workshops have already been conducted.
Analysing eco-art installations for their value in affecting change
Carmela Cucuzzella, Concordia University
A distinctive form of environmentally driven art and design practice has emerged in urban contexts over the last few decades. This practice has developed a unique discourse aiming to inform and rally the public to action. The global eco-didactic direction of this artwork not only demonstrates an alignment with pressing ecological issues but is driven by an urgent need to explain unsustainable anthropocentric practices. Adopting the public realm as an audience is key for these works, since this enables human encounters with the issues collectively, contributing to the potential of ‘public space as a political forum’. This article poses the question ‘are these works a means of revealing the Anthropocene?’ A series of art and design installations are examined along with a discussion of the what these works aim to accomplish and how this can be achieved.
Building, becoming, believing: Participatory land art for empathy and meliorism
Nina Luostarinen, University of Lapland
In this participatory land art workshop, nature was used as a play material to represent the motif of metamorphosis while participants role-played herrings for empathy. The aim was to shift the perspective from our materials – which are agentic in co-constituting conditions evocative of empathy – to observing the outcome from a bird’s-eye view. The workshop sought to demonstrate the power of collaboration, by presenting an allegory of the collaboration of herd species such as herrings. Alone they/we are nothing but, with determination and a clear goal, we can create visible change in the environment and in emotions and attitudes like environmental empathy. Earlier research and this case demonstrate how ecological paradigms can be stimulated with the use of place-based art.
The Medium Is the Environment: Digital materialism, climate crisis and digital art as pedagogy
Kevin T. Day, University of British Columbia
This article examines the environmental implications of ubiquitous information and communication technologies (ICT) manufacturing, operations and usage, using the theories of new materialism and digital materialism, and offers an interactive video installation as a case study for contemporary digital art’s pedagogical potential in response to such environmental issues. Contrary to the imageries of the cloud and the notion of immateriality as promoted by the tech industry, digital media systems are grounded in the material world and operate at the expense of the material substrate. Such a sociopolitical landscape warrants an exploration of potential counter tactics in the fields of digital art and art education. Being informed by digital materialism and hinged on the notion that encounters with contemporary art can cultivate critical and different ways of knowing, this article proposes that a focus on the material can function as an antithesis to the abstracting act of information/data and its purported immateriality.
An interdisciplinary action for caring for the biodiversity of the Canary Islands through arts-based explorations
Noemí Peña-Sánchez, Universidad de La Laguna
Ascensión Camero-Arranz, Universidad de La Laguna
This visual essay is a reflective interdisciplinary encounter between three undergraduate students in a Bachelor of Elementary Education participating in a final year degree project narrated by two educators, one from art education and the other from science education. It applies a situated art intervention to sensory land walking methodologies to raise awareness about the loss of biodiversity in the Canary Islands. Walking as a pedagogical inquiry method supports the humanities in the post-human era for a new relationship between science and art. Art connects to science through the facilitation of sensate and kinaesthetic experiences that interweave the knowledge and methodologies of the educators, connecting lived experiences and memories of all participants in reshaping our teaching and learning culture. Our interdisciplinary approach broadens the perspectives of future educators towards an artistic practice engaged with nature, building civic commitment that pursues a holistic vision of a sustainable education that begins with the care of our immediate environment.
Visualizing climate change: Here we come to save the day!
Cathy Smilan, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Art educators teach visual literacy, criticism, multiple art media and technical skills representing many pupils’ only exposure to visual communication in school. Given curricular flexibility, art teachers redesign lessons to include important conceptual learning to accommodate department of education guidance addressing potentially controversial issues. Authentic art-integrative approaches provide opportunities for students and communities to interrogate serious issues like global warming and the impact of anthropogenic climate change. While not all teachers embrace this and other difficult conceptual learning, professional development and a supportive community of stakeholders are key for those who do. The following article presents a theoretical framework supporting a unit on an art-based inquiry into environmental justice from a recent course on social justice art education. Graduate student artist inspirations, art exemplars and learning activities are shared to inspire others towards art actionism.
Art education through the sustainable design of learning spaces
Ana María Marqués Ibáñez, Universidad de La Laguna
Art education is a valuable tool for achieving quality education by fostering creativity and an appreciation of learning and culture. Well-designed learning spaces are conducive to art learning. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted the author to review the design of learning spaces employed in previous pandemics and other outdoor learning spaces developed over time. A project was carried out at the university level with future secondary school art teachers to design a sustainable art learning space as a multidisciplinary exercise, combining art, architecture and design. Solutions were analysed across multiple criteria. The results demonstrate the suitability of the proposed activity to promote critical creativity among students in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. This type of project in art education is essential for academics and educators so that they become involved in sustainability issues so present in contemporary life.
Documenta fifteen: The 15th edition of Documenta, curated by the ‘ruangrupa’ collective
Reviewed by Costas Mantzalos, Frederick University, Cyprus
Synergy: Art into Fashion, Kika Ioannidou and Maria Neoptolemou, curated by Filep Motwary
Reviewed by Victoria Pavlou, Frederick University, Cyprus