VISA 375 “Artists in Society”

I am a believer in the benefits of engaged/experiential learning for students as a pedagogical method, and my dedication to this type of learning led to the creation of a community based experiential learning course.  I taught the course yearly with 20-30 students each year for the past four years, the last two years were in an isolated new course code (VISA 375) for which I could expand curriculum towards the benefits of experiential learning.  Over the years I’ve matched about a hundred students with community partners, many leading to continued paid employment, names published in catalogues or on wall didactics, but most importantly all come out with vital exposure as to how they negotiate their place in the professional art world. As a community based experiential learning course, students are paired up with local art institutions and artists to complete various projects.  Through interviews with both students and community members, I recruit and customize projects and partnerships.  Students commit fifty hours a term to their partnership projects, and attend a weekly class with discussions, reflection, readings, presentations, and knowledge sharing performed throughout. The experiences students encounter in the community are brought into the classroom to dissect major topics such as the artists’ role, the role of the studio and institutions, art and activism and artistic labour.  In full circle, students bring scholarly knowledge into the community to generously negotiate ways in which one facilitates themselves as ethical and productive contributors. Index: