Inside-Outside: a post-Covid exploration of the possibilities of art education
At the same time as lockdown has isolated and insulated many inside the space of an apartment, in the world outside tempestuous movements rage. The virus, wildly infectious and minimally understood cuts an alarmingly rising curve. Hundreds of thousands mass in demonstrations about race, power, political interests, human rights, sectarian angers. Truths, speculations, petty gossip and lies mingle in social media and journalism. Economies teeter. Existing territorial and power disputes continue, perhaps grow. The power we have as individuals, always somewhat fragile and limited, now appears further restricted by enforced seclusion and technologically mediated communication.
A widely lauded function of the arts is that art–making provides both a medium and a critical yet visceral framework to question, explore and make at least transient and perhaps troublesome sense of the inner human situation and the world outside. In arts education we probe how artists in our heritages have struggled with such sense-making and work to facilitate new relevant navigations into making meaning in the face of problems. In this post-Covid era (and I use the term post- in the sense of something begun but not yet completed) we have plenty of material that needs to be made sense of. However, it seems that many of our most familiar tools have been confiscated and our opportunities curtailed. Some arts may be made in solitude; others depend on physical interaction. All expect and need audience. The varied ways of using one or more of the arts as a medium for learning, for research or for health have developed in contexts that allow embodied and interactive collaboration. Can we usefully adapt our existing practices to survive the restrictions of this time? And can we do so with aesthetic flair as well as with educational effectiveness? This presentation will be in part theoretical, teasing out the core elements of what makes arts education effective. It will also examine some post-Covid examples of communal art-making that have sought to break through the barriers of separation, more or less successfully.