Documenting and Preserving Art Education Materials From Conflict - Affected Global Contexts: ArtsAction Group
ArtsAction Group members Ann Holt and Cindy Maguire present Documenting and Preserving Art Education Materials from Conflict-Affected Global Contexts at the Mapping International Art Education Histories Conference at Teachers College Columbia, Thursday November 30, 2023.
Our presentation focuses on ArtsAction Group’s (AAG) archive of teaching projects and global arts partnerships. Positioning our work here, particularly in regards to Mapping International Art Education Histories, is the notion that archives are vital to countering erasures, amplifying marginalized, at-risk histories, and increasing possibilities of generating discourse in the global field of art and design education. Engaging with archives is an active process that informs teaching, research and creative practices. Archives are not simply materials about the past; they reflect lived experiences, and provoke questions relating to both historical and contemporary educational paradigms. We archive “as a way to document how we live now so that we might change how we live now. Archives are not static hermetically sealed museums; they are active commentaries about our lives” (Tierney, 1993, p. 4).
We are headed back to Suhareka, Kosovo for 9 days of making art, and joining with friends for food and the best macchiatos in the world! It's been 3 1/2 years since our last trip and we are excited to re-join our partners at Fellbach Haus Centre for Creative Education for more community arts experiences. This spring the trip will also run as a study abroad opportunity via Adelphi University. For more information about the study abroad trip you can contact study-abroad.adelphi.edu or call +1-516-877-3487. For more information about the project, reach out to us at email@example.com.
The article describes ArtsAction Groups approaches to arts and healing through our global partnerships. We focus on Kosovo and Sri Lanka in this article, sharing best practices and challenges. The journal is a special issue focused on difficult knowledges and includes several compelling articles that address teaching and learning in the arts when confronted by "histories, objects, and narratives of trauma" (Mandrona & Patterson, 2022, p. 5).
Arts and culture is one of the most expansive modes of social transformation. Even in the face of social emergencies, it brings people together- sparking hope, life, and global connections. Our recent Routledge publication Arts and Culture in Global Development Practice provides multiple and nuanced expressions of the work of development from all over the word using the power of arts and culture. It emphasizes practice, including ethics and responsibility (towards each other) and impact (self cultivation and responsibility together). Aligning with the belief that all individuals deserve the opportunity to participate and to engage in building lives of personal value and dignity including "the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community" (UN General Assembly, 1948), we recognize that we need each other in this mutual endeavor. It takes purposeful action with others in this work. At this moment in time, as we witness another devastating global emergency, these tenets are particularly salient.
We've put together a book of our work in Sri Lanka from 2016 – 2019. Starting with our introductory arts and healing workshops in Alampil to our most recent work incorporating STEAM with socially engaged art. Check it out here.
New Publication! Transformimi: Dikur, Tani Dhe Nesër/Transformation: Past, Present, Future in Therandës-Suharekës, Kosovo
ArtsAction Group: Kosova presents a visual narrative documenting our 2019 project, Transformimi: Dikur, Tani Dhe Nesër/Transformation: Past, Present, Future in Therandës-Suharekës, Kosovo.
We share a brief background of our collective before moving into the Kosovo partnership and context. We finish with our 2019 project created on the 20th anniversary of the NATO bombings.
Through this shared work we reflect on the impact the arts can have in transforming communities with a focus on the role of socially engaged art and healing in fostering capabilities and human development during rebuilding. We hope to shed light on the possibilities inherent in our shared work, always defined by the relational aspects of environment, identities, and experiences of all (Desai, 2019). You can see the book here or a companion website here.
Partnerships We want to thank Jillian Fishback, a high school student and owner of JFdesigns. Jillian brought together her passion for designing shoes with her passion for helping others. Seeking a way to make a difference in the world through the arts, she created a line of custom shoes with 15% of the proceeds which went directly to ArtsAction Group. The work is beautiful as is her commitment to children and youth globally. If interested in ordering a pair of these custom drawn shoes or if you want to learn more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow @_jfdesigns on Instagram to see the work. Thank you Jillian for partnering with ArtsAction Group.
In 1995, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the midst of Europe, the ongoing and systematic crimes reached their abhorrent heights through the crime of genocide committed against the population of Srebrenica, a small town in Eastern Bosnia. In less than a week more than 8000 Bosnian Muslims were exterminated solely for being of different ethnicity and bearing different names. The Srebrenica genocide was committed on the very threshold of the European civilization, with the entire international community observing, and the world hardly caring at all.
Located in a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Srebrenica genocide was committed exactly fifty years after the liberation of Auschwitz when the world promised “never again.” Today, we remember this genocide and recognize the patterns of discrimination that still, everyday, lead to unspeakable crimes all around the world.
In 2004 Tarik Samarah photographed a mother from Srebrenica standing and looking at the photo depicting Anne Frank and her sister. The girls in the photo have their backs turned and the focus of the mother is not apparent to the observer. The European contemporary history and its restless narratives are symbolically united in this photograph. Knowing how easy it is to be pushed beyond the limit of what is considered civilization, it becomes impossible not to ask who will be observed next and whom will we remember in the unknowable future and in the unfathomable present? Will there be someone or is someone already there to observe our backs in the same solemn manner?
© Tarik Samarah
Gallery 11/07/95, Memorial Centre Srebrenica
Inspired by the removal of the ruins of the houses destroyed during the war in Kosovo in 1998-1999. Refki is an artist and arts educator from Theranda/Suhareka, Kosovo and one of ArtsAction Group's long-time partners.
Joseph Cornell Untitled (Hôtel de la Duchesse-Anne), 1957
Like the work of his Surrealist contemporaries, Joseph Cornell's art was often connected to the world of dreams. Based on what you can see in this Cornell box, write a short story that begins with this line: "Last night I had the strangest dream ..."
Explore more writing prompts:https://www.artic.edu/visit-us-virtually/get-creative-at-home/creative-writing-prompts
Explore the educator resource packet:
Who are the artists that inspire you in your community?
The body mapping art project can begin with students viewing a series of artworks created by traditional and/or contemporary artists who combine visual imagery with text to explore personal/cultural identity. The artists we’ve worked with in the past include Mark Bradford's merchant poster series, portraits by Sharin Nashat and paintings by Pala Pothupitiye. Local artists and popular culture are great places to go to for ideas. The website Art21 also has many artists to refer to for artmaking projects.
After viewing examples of other artists who work with text and imagery, students complete the I Am Poem (template in English/Tamil attached). This poem becomes inspiration for the visual parts of the body map art. After completing the poem, have students turn over their poem. Create 4-8 squares by folding the paper. In each square have them sketch visual symbols based on the poem.
On a large piece of paper (you can glue smaller pieces of paper together to create a large body-sized canvas) have a friend trace the outline of the student's body. You can also work small and focus on, for example, an outline of a pair of hands. Inside the outline of the body or hands, begin to design the art project using imagery and text informed by the poem.
Materials can be as simple as pencils and markers to mixed media that includes paint, college and other materials. See the Body Mapping Projects on our website for student examples from Algeria, Kosovo, Sri Lanka and the USA.
For a more in-depth process around Body Mapping and Healing, see Body Mapping for Advocacy Tool Kit by Shirley Gunn, out of the International Coalition Sites of Conscience
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic our lives have been altered in ways that none of us could have imagined. More than one billion children are impacted by the closure of schools (Sites of Conscience). While physical distancing continues, we at ArtsAction Group are finding ways of engaging virtually with individuals and communities through the arts and education. We offer our website as a resource. If we can be of service, we invite you to reach out via our contact form or social media. Stay tuned for news, activities and more on this site AND our social media sites. In loving kindness, the ArtsAction Group team.
Planning Stages for 10th Year Anniversary of ArtsAction Group and Centre for Creative Education Kosovo - March 2020 - cancelled due to Covid-19
We're in the planning stages for the 10th anniversary of our partnership with our Kosovo team. This year we'll be joined by undergraduate students from Adelphi University. Pictured here is the municipal's museum in downtown Teranda/Suhareka. We're planning on again transforming the space, inside and out, with ephemeral projection art designed and produced by the children and youth at the Centre for Creative Education/Fellbach-Haus.
Symbiosis donated much needed art supplies for our recent workshops in Sri Lanka. This is our first collaborative effort with the student group. Farah Faizuddin and Rishabh Lohray started Symbiosis at UT Dallas in May 2017 to bridge art and science at UT Dallas as well as the wider world. The Symbiosis mission is to explore the interconnectivity between art, academics, and therapeutics. They do this by volunteering with the Texas Scottish Rite Children's Hospital and helping children heal through the power of art. Our other ventures include collaborations with the Dallas Independent School District where they support underdeveloped art programs at Dallas elementary schools by conducting art drives and art auctions. At UT Dallas they have helped to foster an interdisciplinary academic environment by kick starting the Medical Humanities program which aims to teach premedical students the power of the humanities and their potential use in healing.
Painting Music Exhibition Art & Design Gallery The University Hertfordshire Art Therapy Society (UHATS)
We were joined in Sri Lanka by students from the University of Hertfordshire's Art Therapy MA program. The team used a variety of media to express their intrapersonal experience while listening to music. Taking inspiration from songs requested by members of the public, the work conveys powerful and complex emotions, visualisations and connections that music can elicit. The links between people elicited by the project extended wider still, with proceeds from the sales put towards the psychosocial project in Sri Lanka, giveing people in the conflict-affected country of Sri Lanka the opportunity to experience the therapeutic benefits of art making.
Our catalogue documenting our most recent project in Kosovo. Interested in getting a copy? Please let us know.
This year ArtsAction Group partnered with Adelphi University to bring 8 students on a study abroad experience through the university's Center for International Education. The experience was led by Professors Cindy Maguire, Hannah Allen, and Ann Holt. Study abroad experiences are notably powerful not just because of the scholarly projects they focus on, but also because of the all-encompassing experiences that the students have meeting people, experiencing new cultures, places, foods, traditions, and values. An outcome of the course included an exhibition at Adelphi and an accompanying catalogue.
Integrating Sound with Artmaking
We've returned from Theranda/Suhareka, Kosovo where we worked with 35 children and youth to create a series of interactive artworks. We had several email conversations along with video, photos and document sharing with Refki Gollopeni, teaching artist and our partner in Theranda. Based on this sharing, Refki began preparing the students for the work prior to the workshops. For the younger studnents they viewed one of our favorite Makey Makey music making videos as well as artists making interactive work such as Federico Muelas' Sonic Graphite 2B and Christine Sun Kim's Game of Skill 2.0
With the younger students we focused on incorporating the Makey Makey to add interactivity into the artmaking. Refki called upon a former student, now designer, to get the younger children's styrofoam hand-forms cut using laser cutting technology. The hands became the sculptural elements further designed and embellished by the students using mixed media. The work with the younger students was held over two days for a total of four hours in the studio. Check out our short video about the work.
The projects we produce with the Centre have several aims and goals, depending upon student and community needs. Recently we've been balancing play and skill building by providing students with opportunities to approach familiar media, such as drawing and painting, in new and different ways. With over half of the population estimated to be under the age of 25 years, we want to encourage critical as well as creative thinking in support of their place in a growing global creative economy.
For the most up-to-date information regarding our work and projects, check out our website and social media sites. We will be using this space to comment and post projects, activities and conversations about our work.