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October 15, 2015 at 12:19 pm in reply to: 3. Men's role in the struggle for women’s equality? #4690
My definition of feminist art is one of social justice. As bell hooks articulates that “feminism is for everybody” (hooks, 2000) there is a foundation as human beings that feminism is the standing together against oppression towards any marginalized people. In this same thread, we may then also see that men are also oppressed through hyper-masculinized indoctrinations of cultural and societal norms. There should not be a hierarchy between gender roles and sexual orientation or race and ethnicity. Contrary to what we consume in a U.S. context, this is not a competition; one oppression does not ‘win’ over another. In working together, collaborative work (as Chicago advocates through studio work and pedagogical art process lens), and awareness, we are tearing down barriers between so many segregated spaces.
Judy Chicago’s work interweaves and challenges the notion of what traditional art would dictate to be valid. For example, by incorporating sewing, various textiles, text, and collaborative artists working together, she defies the notion of the ‘creative art genius’ and replaces it with collaborative projects that not only require research but many different types of artists expertise. The At Home project and WomanHouse are two great illustrations of this as varies areas of expertise are developed collaboratively to create one cohesive installation/experience. Construction work, performative, sewing, costume design, photography, sculptural, and poetry to name a few. The Birth Project and the Dinner Party are other examples of collaborative work where ‘domestic or craft’ art practices are validated and come together to showcase an incorporation of many voices.
Art may be a tool for empowerment, challenging cultural norms, and addressing significant experiences issues of everyday life. For this reason, the arts as an interdisciplinary practice, as Judy Chicago situates through her participatory art process, works as a curriculum pushing beyond art education. For example, the Chicago Holocaust series ties history, testimony, visual arts, and contemporary issues of genocide and oppression through this curriculum. By stabilizing a theme to work from it will carry over into several areas offering balance, and empowerment through self and collaborative circle pedagogy, and expressing of a theme in various forms.
Empowering a class, begins by giving voice to each student. This varies on the size of the class you have and how you facilitate discussions and participation. By creating sub groups and coming together as a class unit is one way to approach voice on varies levels. Allowing for self-presentations and student led teaching/imparting of research and knowledge is another way to also facilitate conversation from the students perspective. I think that your point about being intentional about your role as educator and the power that may automatically assumed/implicit and challenging the assumed notions is significant as well. This then will allow for self awareness from both ends and a responsibility or accountability towards the environment as a whole. A perfect example is Judy Chicago’s WomanHouse, where coming together meant bridging ideas, developing, and working and literally building together.
A hierarchy of knowledge, and knowledge building may be present within the art classroom, where the teacher/educator is seen as the pinnacle of the hierarchal triangle. However, knowledge is based on varies things; perspective, lived experiences, formal/informal education, research, and curiosity. In recognizing these different characteristics of knowledge, the Judy Chicago pedagogy in the art classroom would resist traditional roles of teacher and instead shift to each individual as teacher and contributor. This is a significant point in highlighting and lending voice to each member of a class environment resisting a passive learner, but rather an active learner.
The anxiety and fear that may overcome students when faced with having to ‘come up’ with a project idea can be diffused using the pedagogy of Judy Chicago in the art education classroom (and I would advocate beyond). Because it is not dependent on the single individual as the creative genius, but rather a collective of voices, feedback, brainstorming, research, and in short, active participation in order to allow for ideas/concepts and contexts to emerge it offers a fluid and organic art process model.
In my own experience, when I have worked within an environment where I am actively part of conversations, readings, research, brainstorming sessions, and discussions it INEVITABLY injects itself into my studio work. This is intentional. The realization that what happens to individual, also effects the other, is a powerful tool for teaching and learning. This is what brings a voice from a personal space to a public space, where others can relate to the work.
Power is manifested all around us in various ways. Judy Chicago’s pedagogy addresses a balance of power within the classroom setting by distributing power between the facilitator (educator) to the learner (student). This is done through lending voice to everybody in the classroom, self-representing, and research/experimenting through art. In this way, for example, controversial art or the politics of art may emerge as a concept and through dialogue circle group facilitation to these themes may be analyzed and researched. Through this method what a previous comment suggested, about getting to know the students personalities, also emerges as a classroom setting becomes an environment of closer knit individuals coming together. Individualism is then also challenged, because through circle group pedagogy ideas may begin to interweave and emerge in unexpected and organic ways creating pockets for collaborations.
Our Tea Time this week focused on the topic of navigating personal life with demands of work/student responsibilities and going forward into the work force as graduate students. What obstacles should be expected? As teacher/student relationships, it is important to facilitate discussions about weighing out as many aspects of future decisions and impacts to personal life dynamics. How do personal decisions, such as family, fit into graduate studies and employment searches? In a similar sense, researching and dialogue is important just as our creative progress is developing. How is art studio work impacted through these processes of graduate studies and employment opportunities? What are the power dynamics involved? How are these power dynamics different when contextualized diversely? For example, how does family, self creative art process/work, scholarly goals add to these conversations differently?
As I sit here at our weekly tea time with a fellow colleague, we discuss our research and methods and process. As we discuss individual and social transformations, what it means, and how we hope to interact significantly with our field, art and research, we are engaging in an active process of listening and responding. Over our cups of tea, these conversations are meaningful ways of circle dialogue inspiring new perspectives and organizing existing ones. What do our research methods look like? How do we decide what to use? What are our goals?
I think that the response given above by Olivia are very thoughtful. I would like to add, that one of the significant struggles within the studio art’s is one of form/style/composition versus content. I believe, as an artist and educator that this is important to merge and not isolate, and as such many times is a form of activism. How do we then define activism? I am of the opinion that art can not and should not be isolated in interpretation, as Judy Chicago (Institutional Times, 2014) advocates for reading art in many different perspectives that are not part of a patriarchal way to see/view/observe/discuss art. It is through a feminist lens that for example, Dr. Keifer-Boyd was able to share with the class the Chilean arpilleras and we were able to have a social, cultural, activist, art discussion about them, their makers, their content and their power and activism. Would this be possible through other lens? Would this be considered activist art in other contexts? Seeing beyond the superficial, to the core contexts is crucial and what defines activist art.
As a learner and facilitator I have participated in ‘sitting in the circle’ and have observed a few things. First, that the simple act of sitting in the circle, opens up and creates an environment of acknowledging others. When you are physically positioned to sit in a circle you are most likely going to have to look at others next to you or in front of you and on some level recognize their presence. The next thing I noticed is that by having to talk and participate, as the learner you are listening to what others are saying, their reflections, experiences, commentary on life and issues–this then may spark your own thoughts for sharing. The expectation that everyone around that circle is waiting to hear from you, is powerful and inescapable. I could see how perhaps someone who is not accustomed or finds it difficult to share with others, may find this activity intimidating. However, I have observed that because it is organic, not rushed, and mindful of listening to one another, that many times, even the most reserved learner will ease their way into the circle. Lastly, I think that it is a way to hold each other accountable in speaking and listening, in dialogue and conversation through respect and honoring one another’s voice.October 7, 2014 at 10:27 pm in reply to: 2. Is emphasis on content and finding personal voice important? #4041
In my experiences in the studio arts, I have found that after coming up against many walls of resistance in my process of trying to locate myself, what ‘broke open’ for me was SEEKING women and feminist perspectives. By this I mean that when I hit a very hard time in my personal life and identity, I thankfully ‘fell into’ the office of a feminist studio art educator who gave me perspective and support by validating my feelings and experiences up until that moment of how I got to where I was. It was in this instance, that I was able to find my own gumption to return to the studio space and resist everything that I felt I had been and was perceived as. It was from this space in particular that I believe marked something huge in my identity as artist. I started to develop my voice and expression. I did this by working hard, but also knocking on every door of a female art professor and soliciting support and guidance. I felt that this experience (s) taught me that I have to advocate for myself, that I have to seek out the company of who I want to help me and mentor me into becoming who I want to be. I say all of this to say that I have tremendous respect for the creative process. I have learned to trust the creative process, and I have learned this by the women that I have been fueled by. They validated me in a way that had never occurred in my life. Personal voice and content, although a touchy subject by some artist, I have come to understand that there is an art and process of how our psyche, heart and creative process interact and are exposed. I believe it is of utmost importance.