Bourgault, R. (2018). Across the bridge: A story of community, sociality, and art education. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 19(18). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.18113/P8ijea1918
The article examines the planning, development, and outcome of an experiential learning project that brought together undergraduate studio art students and the workers of a power plant about to shut down. As one of the instructors for the project, I reflect on how our emergent pedagogical methods interfaced or conflicted with students interests, and plant employees.
Principles of phenomenological research inspired my early steps to the study. However, its operative conceptual framework follows the thoughts of socially engaged artists Suzanne Lacy (2010) and Pablo Helguera (2011), guiding an analysis of the relationships between students and workers with instructors as observer-participants. I investigate how these roles and relations developed through different modalities that ranged from familial sentiments to memorializing impulses, including the industrial conditions that inspired various sensual and aesthetic student responses. I argue that the production of artwork as autonomous objects, which constituted the self-evident outcome of this community-focused experience, contributed only a transactional materiality to the project, and that the relational exchanges from which transformative experiences originated, offered unrivaled creative possibilities.
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