This article features a creative fabrication project assigned to participants in a short-term education abroad program at a Midwestern state university in the US. The Get-in-Touch assignment merged intercultural research and studio work to enrich and transform participants’ travel experience in China. Several aesthetic stances (mimetic, formalistic, and contextualist) were adopted to interpret the three-dimensional projects documented with photocollages and stories in this manuscript. Travel–study provided a dynamic platform that allowed the four participants to manifest intercultural learning outcomes: making the dissimilar similar, making the unfamiliar familiar, making the familiar unfamiliar and making the similar dissimilar. This article further illuminates the aesthetic stances noted above through the work of four contemporary Chinese artists and offers an indirect glimpse into the art school curricula found in higher education in both cultures. The discussion highlights learned lessons of cultural humility.
Arts integration and 21st century skills are increasingly relevant to addressing complex student needs in contemporary education. The Creative Classroom Collaboratives: Creativity, Confidence, & Competence (C32) study found that comprehensive arts integration approaches and peer-to-peer professional collaborations between teachers, teaching artists, and cultural partners such as museums, theaters, and arts councils had a positive relationship to students’ achievement and 21st century skill development. By reinforcing criteria that make up the core 21st century skills of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication, arts integration methods were associated with increases in student learning in a cluster randomized control trial of a study of fourth- and fifth-grade students in two school districts with low socioeconomic status on Long Island, New York. This study includes implications for arts integration in schools, peer professional development and teaching practices, and dynamic partnerships with arts and cultural partners.