Experiencing an Artistic Community Part 1

Impact of Community Based Experiential Learning on Students’ Learning and Development as an Artist

Project Report 2015

Prepared By:

Centre for Community Engaged Learning
THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, VANCOUVER


 Contents

  1. Background and Context 2
  2. Purpose of the Evaluation. 3
  3. Methodology. 4
  4. Guiding Evaluation Questions. 4
  5. Overview of Findings. 4
  6. Findings in relation to relevant CBEL literature. 5
  7. Significance and Future Recommendations. 6
  8. References. 6


1.     Background and Context

VISA 481 Readings in Art Theory and Criticism, is an advanced Seminar course, offered to fourth year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) students at the University of British Columbia (UBC). During Winter Term 2, January-April 2015, thirty students were enrolled in this course that was taught by Christine D’Onofrio. The course involved a Community Based Experiential Learning (CBEL) component where students, mostly in placed in pairs, worked with partnership institutions that take many different forms in the Vancouver Art Community (VAC) and include the local art galleries and diverse art centers such as Artspeak, Anvil Centre New Media Gallery, Equinox Gallery, Contemporary Art Gallery, Grunt Gallery, Western Front and many more. During their CBEL engagements, students were asked to write four individual reflections sharing their understandings regarding the role of the artist in the society, and the impact of culture and artistic practices on society and vice versa.

The main focus of this CBEL experience was to extend and strengthen students’ learning of visual art practices by providing them opportunities to apply and relate the theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom with practical, real world, outdoor, hands-on learning experiences in the VAC. Prior to, during and after the CBEL experience, the students were asked to submit their perspectives regarding role of artist in society and reflect on their experiences as they engage with the community partners through this CBEL engagement.  These pre, mid and post written assignments were designed to gather students’ insights regarding their expectations of the CBEL experience, any change in their learning with regards to their perceptions of artists and artist’s role in society, impact of societal contexts on artistic practices and any other additional personal, academic and professional skills and attributes which the students might have developed because of their engagement in the CBEL activity. Please refer to Appendices A, B, and C for complete assignments.

This project report comprises the findings that were generated through qualitative analysis of pre, mid and post CBEL responses of 29 students (total 104 responses) from a VISA 481 that conducted its CBEL activity at various art galleries and studios of VAC, British Columbia, Canada in the spring of 2015.


2.     Purpose of the Evaluation

The Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) is helping the course instructor in analyzing the student reflections to evaluate the impact of CBEL experience in light of following CBEL oriented Student Learning Outcomes of the course:

  1. Apply and contextualize theoretical knowledge base of VISA 481 and the BFA program into practical experiences.
  2. Develop a transformative understanding of the relationship of the artists to both a local community as well as the society at large.
  3. Envision themselves as active members of the cultural industry, and be prepared to enter the professional world of contemporary art practice in a variety of capacities.
  4. Resolve the aim and purpose of artist run culture in a wider societal context, and illustrate those contributions and their effects to a peer audience.

Evaluating the impact of CBEL experiences on students’ learning prior to, during and after completion of course will help in continuing and making CBEL experiences more robust and meaningful in a BFA context.

  1. Methodology

Pre, mid and post CBEL responses of 29 students (total 104 responses) were analyzed using qualitative data analysis software (NVivo). To analyze student responses, the guiding evaluation questions were developed by the Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) team in consultation with the course instructor. The underlying criterion for developing these questions was based on the expected course learning outcomes as well as the specific learning outcomes of the CBEL activity.

  1. Guiding Evaluation Questions

The guiding questions for this evaluation were:

  1. What were the students’ prior expectations of this CBEL experience?
  2. How does students’ understanding of the role of artist (and artist led culture) in the society change?
  3. How do students characterize the CBEL experience?
  4. What influence this CBEL experience had:
    1. on students’ own identity as an artist?
    2. on students’ preparedness as a professional artist?

5.     Overview of Findings

Total 104 responses of 29 students were coded across themes that emerged from the data. Overall findings of the analysis of student responses coded across these themes are presented in the following

Figure 1:

Figure 1: Percentage of students demonstrating positive responses coded across themes

The findings of the 29 students’ pre, mid and post assignment responses reveal a positive impact of the CBEL activity.  This CBEL experience also positively influenced students’ own identities as artists and their prepared as a professional artist. In addition, this CBEL experience also promoted enhanced learning of many other additional positive attributes such as enhanced communication skills and knowledge of workplace skills. The key findings are as follows:

  1. Prior to the experience 86.20 % students shared positive expectations of the upcoming CBEL experience and identified it as an opportunity to gain professional knowledge, practice their artistic skills and gain experience of working with “real” artists in community settings.
  2. Around 70 percent of students (68.96%) gained a more nuanced or completely new understanding of artists’ role in the society and thus connected the theoretical concepts involved in the VISA 481 course with their practical experiences.
  3. More than three-fourth (75.86%) students demonstrated enhanced understandings of the impact of art on society and vice versa.
  4. Many students (58.62%) found this CBEL experience valuable and helpful in developing their artistic skills as well as in developing other personal skills which they could use in many other life contexts. It also helped them in engaging in professional artist networks.
  5. About eighty percent (79.31 %) of the students (completely unprompted) reported improvement in their communication skills and knowledge of workplace skills and valued engaging in reflections during their CBEL experiences. They found reflection to be helpful in thinking more critically in their art practices as well as in informing other aspects of their lives.
  6. More than 65% of students acknowledged that this CBEL experience helped them in reflecting and developing their own identity as an artist.
  7. This CBEL engagement proved to be a professionally enriching learning experience for more than 72% of the students who felt that this experience has helped them in becoming more prepared to enter into the artistic world as a professional artist.

Please see Appendix D: Table 1 Key findings with examples of student responses for direct quotes of students’ coded for each theme.


6.     Findings in relation to relevant CBEL literature

The above findings are consistent with the literature on community based learning which suggests that CBEL experiences are an essential part of inquiry and can serve as a catalyst for enhancing students’ learning and sense of social responsibility and civic engagement (Butin, 2007; Fusco, 2001; Harrison, Clayton, & Tilley-Lubbs, 2014; Myers-Lipton, 1998). According to Dewey (1998, as cited in Hickman & Alexander, 1998) community based experiential learning present students with experiences of inquiry which lead to dissonance and thus, require students to take on complex roles often in unfamiliar and challenging situations. By critically reflecting on these experiences, students test and refine the knowledge and skills gained, utilize these to pose and examine new questions, and learn about themselves as learners.

The present analysis of students’ engagement in CBEL activity during their involvement in VISA 481 resonates with the literature which posits that CBEL experiences have multiple positive impacts on students (Eyler, Giles, Stenson, & Gray, 2001; Gemmel & Clayton, 2009; Kassabgy & El‐Din, 2013). For example, students’ demonstrate enhanced academic learning when they engage in activities that allow them to connect theory with practice by utilizing the course content learned in the classrooms to engage in tasks that involve community service (Bringle &Hatcher, 1995; Furco, 2001). Positive impacts of CBEL experiences extend beyond the academic learning and induce deepened understandings of civic, social, moral responsibilities among students (Billig, Jesse, & Grimley, 2008; Wyss & Tai, 2012).

The significance of CBEL experiences in learning of art is reflected in many literary articles which emphasize that CBEL based instructional approaches expand subject matter, make curriculum more relevant by relating it to real-life contexts, accelerate personal and group development and strengthen the sensory capacities of all learners and promote advocacy initiatives among them (Berman & Allen, 2012; Bolin, 2000; Buffington, 2007; Carroll, 2006; Chung & Ortiz, 2011; Lim, Chang, & Song, 2013; London, 1994; Ulbricht, 2005). Interestingly, present findings of VISA 481 students’ involvement in CBEL activity at the VAC reverberates with the CBEL literature as this experience not only resulted in enhanced content knowledge among most students but also promoted development of additional attributes and increased sense of social responsibility as an artist towards their own growth as an artist and an artist’s contribution to the betterment of the society. Many students acknowledged that this CBEL experience motivated them to think more deeply about their own identity as an artist and the role of art on society and vice versa. Many expressed their willingness to continue participating in CBEL activities as this experience provided them with a learning opportunity that was complementing their academic learning and was intellectually stimulating and professionally rewarding.


7.     Significance and Future Recommendations

The data emerged from this analysis informs the impact of CBEL experiences on students’ learning of VISA 481 content and its utilization while engaging in their CBEL experiences as well as any shift in their understandings regarding role of artist in the society, and their own identity as an artist. This data also serves as a foundation for unpacking the longitudinal outcomes of CBEL in relation to students’ perceptions of their own professional identity (the selected students will be interviewed after 6 months of course completion). As evident from the above findings, this CBEL experience proved to be a worthwhile component of VISA 481 course and we recommend it to be included in the future iterations of the course.


8.     References

Berman, K., & Allen, L.  (2012). Deepening students’ understanding of democratic citizenship through arts-based approaches to experiential service learning, South African Review of Sociology, 43 (2), 76-88. DOI: 10.1080/21528586.2012.694245

Billig, S. H., Jesse, D., & Grimley, M. (2008). Using service-learning to promote character education in a large urban district. Journal of Research in Character Education, 6(1), 21.

Bolin, P. (2000). The value of local history and places within art education. Art Education, 53(4), 4-5.

Bringle, R. G., & Hatcher, J. A. (2009). Innovative practices in service-learning and curricular engagement. New Directions for Higher Education, 2009(147), 37-46. doi:10.1002/he.356

Buffington, M. (2007). The big idea: Service-learning and art education. Art Education, 60(6), 40-45.

Butin, W. D. (2007). Justice-Learning: Service-Learning as Justice-Oriented Education. Equity & Excellence in Education, 40(2), 177-183.

Carroll, K. L. (2006). Development and learning in art: Moving in the direction of holistic paradigm for art education. Visual Arts Research, 32(1), 16-28.

Chung, S., & Ortiz, C. (2011). Art education in action on the street. Art Education, 54(3), 46-52.

Dewey, J. (1998/1993). Analysis of reflective thinking: How we think. In L.A. Hickman & T.M. Alexander (Eds.). The essential Dewey, volume 2: Ethics, logic, psychology (pp. 137-144). Bloomington. IN: Indiana University Press.

Eyler, J. S., Giles, D. E., Jr., Stenson, C. M., and Gray, C. J. (2001). At a glance: What we know about the effects of service-learning on college students, faculty, institutions and communities, 1993–2000 (3rd ed.). Retrieved from http://www.compact.org/resources/at-a-glance/928/

Furco, A. (2001). Advancing service-learning at research universities. New Directions for Higher Education, 114(Summer), 67–78. doi:10.1002/he.15.abs

Fusco, D. (2001). Creating Relevant Science through Urban Planning and Gardening. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 38(8), 860-877.

Gemmel, L. J., & Clayton, P. H.  (2009). A Comprehensive Framework for Community Service-Learning in Canada. Canadian Alliance for Community Service-Learning.

Harrison, B., Clayton, P. H., & Tilley-Lubbs, G. A. (2014). Troublesome knowledge, troubling experience: An inquiry into faculty learning in service-learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 20(2), 5.

Kassabgy, N., & El‐Din, Y. S. (2013). Investigating the impacts of an experiential Service‐Learning course. TESOL Journal, 4(3), 571-586. doi:10.1002/tesj.92

Lim, M., Chang, E., & Song, B. (2013). Three initiatives for community-based art education practices. Art Education, 66(4), 7-13.

London, P. (1994). Step outside: Community-based art education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Link

Myers-Lipton, Scott J. (1998). Effect of a Comprehensive Service-Learning Program on College Students’ Civic Responsibility. Teaching Sociology, 26.

Ulbricht, (2005). What is community based art education? Art Education, 58(2), 6-12.

Wyss, V. L., & Tai, R. U. (2012). Service learning in high school biology and college major choice. College Student Journal, 46(2), 459.


Appendix A: Pre CBEL Assignment

Pre-experience assignments

Pre-Reflection #1:  Envelope

In the envelope given to you, write out a small description of what you think the artists’ role in society is.

Pre-Reflection #2:  Goal Setting

At this stage in the course you have had the opportunity to gain an understanding of your partner and project for the term.  This is an ideal time to pause and articulate personal, academic, and professional goals that you hope to achieve by the end of the course. This intentional creation of personal learning goals will help you to more fully collaborate with your partner while taking an active role in your own learning.

Below are some guiding questions that you might find useful in writing one of each type of goal. Instead of simply listing the goal, provide some background/context to make it clear why this goal is important to you. Setting goals that are achievable within the frame of the course is important. Consider how you will know if you’ve achieved them.  What will that look like to you?


Personal

  • How might this experience inform my identity as an artist and/or arts professional?
  • What personal characteristics do I hope to better understand and develop through this experience?

Academic

  • What histories, theories or models do I hope to learn more about?
  • What knowledge do I hope to gain about studio practice?

Professional

  • What skills do I hope to gain through this experience that will help me in my art (or future) career?
  • How can I ensure this experience allows me to gain the skills I need to embark on a career in the arts?

Appendix B: Mid CBEL Assignment

Mid-Experience Assignment – Mid-Term Reflection

Throughout the course, the CBEL component has been accompanied by active reflection of the experience.  This has happened in class, in writing, and perhaps even in conversation with your fellow peers and partners in varying ways.  The habits of critical reflection are an integral part of developing life-long learning skills.

  1. In an objective and detailed way, describe (without interpretation) parts of the reflection process that you remember most.
  2. Has practicing reflection as part of the class, (and on your own) activated new questions, confronted bias, examined causality, contrasted theory with practice, or pointed to systemic issues for you?  In other words, has your reflection gotten to the level of a critical reflection?
  3. How do you see the activities of reflection informing your artistic practice and approach?  How has the focus on reflection given you new tools to generating and deepening the experiential process that informs the creation of art?

Appendix C: Post CBEL Assignment

Post-experience assignment:   Final Reflection

  1. At this point in time, what would you define as the artists’ role in society?
  2. Return to your first answer of this very same question from the start of the year (that you placed in the envelope). Did you see the role in the same way? How did it change or how did it stay the same?  Why do you think that is?
  3. Overall, what do you take away as the most important components of your partnership and the experience? How will it have changed (or how has it already changed)? How you will approach your practice and goals beyond the classroom?

Note: This final question may be shared with the UBC administration, Centre for Community
Experiential Learning, or members of the Department for pedagogical research and curriculum renewal.

-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐Extra-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐

If you are willing to be contacted in 6 months or a year after the end of this class, to update us on your thoughts or progresses in relation to this experience, can you please provide an email address or phone number for us (either myself or   Centre for Community Experiential Learning) to contact you.

Thank you for considering!

Christine


Appendix D: Table 1 Key findings with examples of student responses

S. No. Theme Key Findings  Examples of Student Responses
1 Positive expectations of this CBEL experience 86.2o% students shared positive expectations of CBEL experience and identified it as an opportunity to gain professional knowledge, practice their artistic skills in company of “real” artists. …better communication skills, enhance my identity as artist, gain practical skills such as inventory organizational and listening skills, work ethics (Student 1_Pre reflection 2)

I feel my experience at the New Media Gallery will inform my identity as an art professional and an artist…interning at the gallery I feel it will give me a great understanding of how a new media gallery runs and works. Since there are not many galleries that represent solely new media or digital works, I predict this experience will give me reassurance as a working artist utilizing this medium. But also working at the New Media Gallery, I think I will gain the knowledge of the care involved handling other artists’ works. Especially, how do you work exhibit an artwork if the artist themselves are unable to travel to the gallery? How does the curators communicate with the artists or galleries that the work is being borrowed from. (…) I am eager to be apart of the installation process. I am hoping to learn the planning and curating involved in the decision process of how artworks either communicate with each other. I am interested in the process of the mapping of how each artwork will create cohesion to the whole exhibition. I hope to hone my communication skills. The New Media Gallery entails working with two curators and international artists. I want to know how the curators communicate efficiently with international artists and big galleries when borrowing these works and what that process entails. With that, I want to listen, learn, communicate, and assist the curators so the artworks can be exhibited properly. I intend to ask multiple questions and do my own research about these artists that are being exhibited. With such, I would also like to also be detail oriented. A lot of the tasks at the gallery involve handling international works. The importance of photo documentation is significant as we are given the responsibility of other artists’ work. (Student 8_Pre reflection 2).

I think the largest way in which this CBEL project will help me grow/evolve as an artist is just through pushing me to go to more galleries and write gallery reviews. (…) Doing research on exhibitions that are relevant to the satellite, more specifically experimental exhibitions will help me with my identity as an experimental artist. (…) In relation to fascets of art I aim to learn about through working with the Satellite, Mainstreeters: Taking Advantage hopefully will begin to teach me about past Vancouver art, such as from the 70’s and 80’s.  (…) My professional goal mostly revolves around using effective methods of clarifying and reassuring, allowing no room for miscommunication to occur. And learning, through experience, how to handle extreme miscommunications. (Student7_Pre reflection 2).

Through this CBEL project, in partnership with Satellite Gallery I am hoping to find clarity in my understanding of where [student’s own name] as an “artist, maker and society shaker” may come into form. I am hoping this will come from a term of engagement, learning, application and discovery (Student 5_Pre reflection 2).

Grunt Gallery is known for its inclusive environment, which promotes community arts involvement and the promotion of marginalized groups/individuals/art practices. As a feminist artist I am interested better understanding how visual arts can promote the status of marginalized groups/identities. As an Indigenous artist, I am interested in better learning how visual arts evoke traditional materials, narratives, symbols. So, I think to achieve this goal, I will take advantage of Grunt Gallery’s public archives, essays, dialogues, and statements in order to enrich my knowledge of community engaged art. Professional A professional Goal I hope to gain through the work experience project with Grunt Gallery is to learn how to facilitate art events with the community. I think that it is important to my work experience, as arts/community events are integral to spreading awareness and creating dialogues. To achieve this goal, I would like to be able to create a clear plan which details how I could plan, promote and facilitate an art/community event. I believe that through the Grunt Gallery performance video events I could learn how to achieve this goal (Student 4_Pre reflection 2).

 

2 More nuanced or completely new understandings of artists’ role in the society 68.96%  responses indicated that students gained a more nuanced or completely new understanding of artists’ role in the society and thus connected the theoretical concepts involved in the VISA 481 course with their practical experiences An artists’ role in society is to create content by the means of art…Artists will try to find a way to break these routines, and to liberate subjects from its identification. (Student 2_Final reflection Q1)

The role that an artist has in society cannot be defined because it is always fluctuating. I think that it depends on each artist’s understanding of where they see themselves fitting into society that helps to shape their role. Ultimately, artist’s work to make us see things in different ways, and all of their multifaceted nuances (Student 21_Final reflection)

Artists are rebels who resist to conform. Within the context of contemporary art, I think art is essentially a cultural practice that critically reflect upon our present. Attitude, not aesthetics, is what defines art practices nowadays; at the very core of it, criticality is the force that drives creativity, and makes art more than just an act of recreation or entertainment. Through visual or experiential languages, artists challenge our preconception about society and life in general, and I believe that instead of contributing to the productivity or advancement of society, this realm of resistance is where artists belong in society. Artists are a group of idealists who always try to defamiliarize the familiar, and reveal the blindspot of society and humanity. (Student 30_Final reflection)

I believe artist have huge responsibilities in their societies. Artist act as a conduit for all sort of social interactions. Artists have a unique role in the development of culture in a society. They can influence the socio-political path of the societies. Artists have influenced social revolutions and brought significant changes to the societies.  (…) Thus, artist’s role can be very significant and critical when it encourages the society for critical thinking and social-political engagements (Student 11_Final reflection).

At this point in time, I feel that the artist role in the society can not be defined. Each artists have to find their own role in society instead of having a role that can be commonly defined. There are so many different kind of artists and artistic practices so is it possible to define a specific role for the artist? However, I do believe that an artist need to have the ability to listen and speculate others. Since those “others” are all different for each artist, the role of the artist is always shifting (Student 15_Final reflection).

Many artists are part of the greater community, often mirroring its values and thus can be effective in providing a sense of community. However, the most effective role for the artist is one that challenges the thought, views and observations of the individual and the community. By occupying a position outside the community and not inside, artists challenge us better when they upset the status quo to show a newer way of looking, thinking and behaving. They do this in contemporary art by visually translating reality or imagination of a story or thinking that provides the concept of the work. By engaging with the art beyond ‘looking’, art and the artist has power to change the way the viewer sees and acts (Student 16_Final reflection).

In society we need artists to speak about what is often not said. About politics, religion, history, etc.. They provide thought provoking commentary and inventive perceptions on a vast array of ideas. They arouse the minds of society, and challenge others to question what they think they know. They take many places in society, from many different perspectives (Student 18_Final reflection).

I have been struggling with the word “artist” recently. (…) The best I can do is offer what I think any person, or anyone who is creating, should do: Strive to be thoughtful and caring; work to improve the world around you in a material way. Try to use your creativity to encourage compassion and curiosity, when you can (Student 19_Final reflection).

I believe in a very general view that my definition of the role of an artist has not changed, although after this semester my initial belief has evolved and developed into a deeper understanding of why I define artists as thought provoking content creators. The aim of the artist now is not to imitate, but to recreate an existing subject in a way that the subject has never been presented before. In fact, artists do not bring us emotionally, physically, or mentally closer to the present life we live in. Artists are people of alienation. We do so in order to rescue our lives from falling into a routine of acceptance and submission. Artists are widely viewed as an excessive and unnecessary profession because we are the people who do not want to fit into the social norms- once we choose not to fit in the life of money, business and hierarchy we are viewed as useless to the human power force. Perhaps once this point is brought into view, maybe the tables will turn. (…) It takes a certain level of understanding to really appreciate what artists try to do for the society. Living in a world of money and systematic structures, perhaps emotion and visual stimulation has been seen as a threat to our current systems (Student 2_Final reflection).

 

3 Enhanced understandings of the impact of art on society and vice versa 75.86% students indicated enhanced understandings of the impact of art on society and vice versa. I am also more aware of the vast and various types of communities in Vancouver and how institutional and global economic and cultural influences its structures as well as its individuals (Student 13_Mid reflection).

It was interesting to get a closer insight into other galleries practices and expand on the various locations each gallery is situated in. We had an in-depth conversation about the downtown eastside and the current ‘renovation’ it is going through and how that effects the homeless population of Vancouver, exploring the positives and the negatives of the situation, and how it might affect galleries such as the Gam individuals (Student 22_Mid reflection).

I am of many minds when I think about the role of an artist in society…mostly two minds actually. One mind is concerned with the material reality of human existence under capitalism, and when I think about the role of artists in society in this way, I think about paying bills and staying afloat, and how this constrains artistic production. (…) So, in this frame of survivalist thinking, the role of an artist is that of a worker who produces a commodity. (…) My other mind is concerned with more a metaphysical interpretation of the role of an artist. That interpretation draws from Kantian/Marxist ideas around some kind of universal human need to create or outworldly manifest and change their reality in order to be fully human. The other end of this is complete alienation. This is the postion from which I work as an artist. On a basic level, the artist is driven to make an idea into an image which someone else can immediately read. The role of an artist from this ‘metaphysical materialist’ perpesctive is to act as a filter for the world, to interpret society, and repackage that interpretation as some kind of creative work whether it is a painting, photo, dance, performance, song or sculpture. If I combine my two minds, I can get to the idea that the role of the artist is to both act as a filter for undiluted spirit and to transform some working material into beauty which can be grasped by others. The role of the artist is to question society and to navigate it as a worker who produces a commodity called Contemporary Art. The role I have always seen for myself in society is as someone who points to injustice and this is what I would like my role as a artist to be as well. The most amazing thing about art is that it can speak about everything. I don’t believe there are any areas of human life that art cannot refer to, and this is another reason I engage as an artist (Student 10_Final reflection).

 

4 Value of CBEL experience 58.62 % students acknowledged that this CBEL experience is valuable and helpful in developing their artistic knowledge as well as in developing other personal skills which they could use in many other life contexts. It also helped them in engaging in professional artist networks. I met some wonderful new people, who I now have as contacts in the industry. I know everything I have learned will help me with everything I do from here on (Student 1_Final reflection).

Thanks to this course and CBEL experience I do have a better knowledge and understanding of the function of different galleries (Student 6_Final reflection Q3).

my overall experiences in this course is leading me to walk away with a solid understanding of contemporary art, clear idea about the path I am taking in my art practice, the way I will approach art galleries to present my artworks and also the art industry in general (Student 11_Final reflection).

There are definitely similarities to the way I see an artist’s role now in comparison to how I saw it a few months ago; the importance of an interaction between artists’ and the rest of society, and our ability to introduce new ideas and viewpoints. But the one key difference is that it seems more accessible, not just one huge, impermeable abyss. I think that in dipping my toe into what it is actually like to work within the artistic realm, outside the bubble of academia, I have found that finding your niche is a doable task. And though it is feasible, I have also learned that is by no means easy. There are definitely similarities to the way I see an artist’s role now in comparison to how I saw it a few months ago; the importance of an interaction between artists’ and the rest of society, and our ability to introduce new ideas and viewpoints. But the one key difference is that it seems more accessible, not just one huge, impermeable abyss. I think that in dipping my toe into what it is actually like to work within the artistic realm, outside the bubble of academia. (Student 28_Final reflection).

I think the most valuable thing I’ve taken away from it is seeing how artists work in ‘real life’ and what it takes to be apart of that. Also, learning a lot about Vancouver and its Artist Run Centers and their role in society is very useful when coming out of school and entering the “real world” (Student 18_Final reflection).

 

5 Value of engaging in reflection 79.31 % students appreciated the reflection opportunities provided during this CBEL experience. They found reflection to be helpful in thinking more critically in their art practices as well as in in other aspects of their lives. …practicing reflections will transfer skills that will help me with anything I choose to do (Student 1_Mid reflection)

Practicing reflection as a group definitely activated different question and ideas that I wouldn’t have realized if I was doing it by myself…This discussion in class made me realized that I was only focusing on a very small part, such as self-reflection and some reflection on Publication Studio, but not looking broad enough to see Publication Studio being a part of different Vancouver Art Organization. (Student 9_Mid reflection)

I didn’t like the reflection exercises, but strangely, they were the best part of the whole CBEL project for me. They, of course, required “reflection” and I guess we don’t do this enough in our daily lives! Trying to answer the questions, you do have to reach inside and write down how you feel or are impacted by events. My nature is to move forward, don’t look back, but I’ve learned that looking back influences in a more positive way, the move forward (Student 16_Final reflection).

I think that through the process of reflecting more often, I try and think about things for not only longer periods of time, but also try to look at them from different angles, this helps to help my creative mind work more efficiently (Student 18_Final reflection).

I like the idea of recording information that can be looked at in the future and used as a kind of mapping system of my experience (Student 10_Mid reflection).

I remember that writing reflections made me think more critically. It allowed me to look at the projects in detail. Practice of reflection demands more critical attention to our classmates and our self in order to question the feelings and thoughts we have experienced as we come to a realization of our work. Practice of reflection gives us new understandings and act as a basis for any possible debate. (…) practicing reflection has led me think more critically. Practicing reflection allowed me to raise questions and confronting bias. (…) It had pushed me to make more explicit decisions and also to be able to communicate with my colleagues or my audiences in a more professional manner. It also made me understand how to differentiate fare judgments over bias judgments. Overall, Practice of reflection is the new critical and developmental tool for both creations of the artwork and also recognizing the art industry (Student 11_Mid reflection).

Reflecting on the space and purpose of the gallery has made me question my own position in the gallery. Now I can’t stop thinking about how out of place I must look walking around Chinatown and I also look around to see which places attract what different groups of people within the area. I have become very conscious of the setting and how people are interacting. It does make me uncomfortable. I am aware that I need to spend much more time on reflection in all areas of my life, and it is always beneficial to my art practice. I could use reflection to go back and recreate some of my art works that perhaps haven’t been fully resolved. I should reflect on my experiments each time to create better art. (Student 11_Mid reflection).

One thing that I find I am getting better at is reflecting on negative aspects and how I can work to overcome them. It has also opened me up to asking more questions, and considering different aspects that I wasn’t thinking about before. The Practice of reflection has actively helped me to reflect in other aspects of my life. Also to consider how I could fix or change something that is not working for me. I would absolutely agree that I have confronted a bias in the sense that I try to look at things from more than just how I initially think about them. What other ways are there to approach something? What else am I taking from this experience besides the obvious? The contrast of theory and practice has been something I’ve struggled with for quite a while. (Student 18_Mid reflection).

I have been reflecting on my role within the art world through this CBEL experience. I have felt that The Equinox Gallery has opened my eyes to an art environment that has been discussed very little during my time at UBC. I think taking the time to individually think through an experience like our CBEL process definitely makes me think more critical. As visual arts students we have now had 4 years of training to think critical, so think many aspects of my life i treat more analytically. These reflections asked important questions to reexamine our own feelings and believes related to this project (Student 24_Mid reflection).

 

6 Enhanced communication skills and work-place knowledge 79.31% students (completely unprompted) reported improvement in their communication skills and knowledge of workplace skills through their CBEL experiences. …the most important components I am taking away from the partnership experience are communication skills and a willingness to learn new things and improve on previous skills (Student 1_Final reflection)

One of the most beneficial parts of this CBEL project was to make me familiar with the numerous kinds of art organizations and institutions in Vancouver. I also learned about different associations that are related to different types of art galleries. (…)  What I learned the most was to gain more information about the expectations and values of the art gallery that I am planning to submit my work (Student 21_Mid reflection).

Talking is the first step of making friends so learning how to engage in conversation with new friends is an important and helpful skill to gain. This skill is going to allow me to expand my practice and career through the knowledge that I gain from conversations with artists and curators (Student 15_Final reflection).

The most important thing I took away from this partnership and experience is the practice of working with other artists, and the opportunities that may arise out of it (Student 18_Final reflection).

I would say that assisting the installation and understanding curatorial process behind the exhibition of a public gallery is the most valuable component of my CBEL experience. There are things within a gallery space that you just wouldn’t notice unless you got to be involved with the installation process, and the amount of time and effort required to realize an exhibition still continues to astonish me (Student 30_Final reflection).

I now have a better grasp of the skills I should continue to develop in order to pursue a career in gallery sales and/or curation. Skills include an awareness of art history and art making techniques, client-­‐dealer interaction, the local and international art scene, curation, and marketing practices (Student 24_Final reflection).

I believe that the most important components of my partnership /experience was being shown how things actually worked, being given the opportunity to prove my abilities, and simply talking with these art professionals. I have gained confidence about my skills and interaction with pre-installed artworks, so I am capable of being a helpful part of an exhibition installation elsewhere (Student 26_Final reflection).

 

7 Influence on students’ own identity as an artist 65. 52% students indicated that this CBEL experience motivated them to reflect and develop their own identity as an artist. Throughout this project I also figured out that I have a passion for teaching art to kids and being involved with community centers. Working in an environment like the Gam given me new sight and confidence to make some progress on creating a new series of artwork so I can exhibit in the Gam gallery in the near future (Student 6_Final reflection Q3).

I won’t pretend to know what the role of an artist is in society, however I am definitely constantly learning more and more about what that role is for me personally. The role of the artist in society, (at least the type of artist that I want to be), seems to be a role of constant struggle; mostly internal struggle and negotiation. What I mean by this is that we are constantly in this mindset now as artists, which seems to be both a blessing and a curse. I feel like as a result of our program, through the readings and discussions and critiques, we as artists and art students now think in a certain way, where we are constantly questioning everything and negotiating the space around us, and we think very critically now. (…) I am now opinionated and critical, and I overthink everything. But this is good. (…) I am starting to realize that the role of an artist is a difficult one, in the sense that you should be tackling real, raw, hard to talk about issues. And you should constantly be questioning yourself and your environment. And that’s a scary role to try and take on. But now that I am in this mindset that I discussed above, there’s no route to take other than making art. (Student 7_Final reflection)

I have become more confident in my understanding of what an artist does and is supposed to do. And through this change I can see my growth as an artist myself through the duration of this term and the course of my degree (Student 27_Final reflection)

A close community was formed among peers and I think that a space was created in which art became accessible and enjoyable. When that happens, things don’t seem as grim and as difficult. For me, the most important component of this partnership experience was learning a process. It is not necessarily a step-by-step process that all projects can be based off of, but through this process I have learnt more about subjects like grant applications and collaborations. I think this has really opened up my perspective on how artists must learn to function together. I believe that we become more powerful this way. Through ourselves, we become the source and the result. It’s definitely reinforced our group of graduating and non-graduating peers to create a community within ourselves. (Student 27_Final reflection).

We were expressing our “lack of direction” and disorientation within the world of art; what do we do after we graduate? This led us to discuss ARC’s that usually pride themselves on showcasing emerging artists, [such as the gam gallery, or access gallery] giving them a push off point, somewhere to begin. However over time, as each of these ARC’s becomes more stable, and receives more funding and publicity and recognition, the level of experience of artists submitting will rise. This inevitably creates a larger gap; because more experienced artists are submitting and getting into exhibitions, there is no longer a push off point for “us” [newly graduated, inexperienced artists]. At this point, we came to the realization that as emerging artists who recognize this trend, it’s our responsibility to be creating ARC’s and communities that young artists can flock to. In order for there to always be a “push off point” for inexperienced artists, new ARC’s need to be founded as pre-­‐existing ARC’s become elevated and more picky (Student 7_Mid reflection).

The most important component of my partnership experience is being able to practice flexibility and self-­reflexivity. As my role with the gallery had changed, I learnt how to be more accepting of last minute challenges and changes. As my role was to primarily do research for interviews, I found that it was a lesson in learning how to form engaging questions and be open to unexpected circumstances and opportunities. This helps me to be flexible for whatever opportunities and possibilities there may be for me in the professional art community (Student 4_Final reflection).

The introduction of the various galleries/institutions that are located in Vancouver was very helpful to reflect where my work could be a good fit. Understanding where my interests truly lie is so important to target work and not to place work inappropriate for the venue. There’s still much to learn as an artist or the arrangements between artist and gallery; artist to community; so I have lots of questions left. What I have learned is that I am not intending to make profound statements about my work. My work is not rooted in personal angst or in political, social, economic conditions or protest. Rather it is about a personal relationship to nature, specifically the small and insignificant, the overlooked and under appreciated life forms and processes. I’m not excusing this concept underlying my work as I’ve been fighting noble wars for much of my life. At this point in my life, I want to make work that pleases me rather than meet departmental or institutional norms (Student 16_Mid reflection).

Pertaining to my art practice, it has changed my outlook drastically on the idea of a studio space. Though I was fairly adamant that working at home worked for me, I now wish to have a studio space of my own to see how that changes my process and work. Separating my studio space from my living space might not accomplish anything, or even be worse, but the desire is definitely there to see if it works. It would be most interesting to see if that affects the creation of my ideas in anyway, though I presume it wouldn’t really do so as ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, and not just within your studio space, or if the occur there at all. I say the latter part due to my experience of working on projects, and the drive to execute a certain project tends to block out any new possible ideas on artworks completely separated from the one I am working on… (Student 22_Mid reflection).

In a way, both parts of my reflection concerns the question of identity. From individual to institutional, the concept of identity is defined by a kind of self-­‐knowledge through critical examination of oneself. Identification requires an understanding of self-­‐purpose, and a consideration of the reality/context of the identified. To me, the most important aspects of this process are to be in touch with factuality, to study reality with support of evidences, and to be open-minded and accepting (Student 30_Mid reflection).

 

8 Influence on students’ preparedness as a professional artist 72.41% students found this CBEL experience as professionally enriching learning experience as they found it helpful in becoming more prepared to enter into the artistic world as a professional artist. I know now there are few galleries in Vancouver that support emerging local artist, which is really heartwarming at this point of my life… Working in an environment like the Gam given me new sight and confidence to make some progress on creating a new series of artwork so I can exhibit in the Gam gallery in the near future (Student 6_Final reflection Q3).

Prior to this course, I was quite confused on what type of art gallery would best fit my subject matter in the conceptual art. After I learned about different type of art galleries, the nature of the art work they represent, their history and culture, their role and goals I realized that the best type of art gallery would be the artist run galleries at this point of my career. I also learned to participate in the art community in a more active and productive way to enhance my conceptual work of art. Now I have a much deeper understanding on what to expect from each type of art gallery in terms of context and concept (Student 21_Mid reflection).

Now more than ever I have hope and self-confidence to get out here and build my career…Focusing on reflections and working in an environment like the Gam given me new sight and confidence to make some progress on creating a new series of art work so I can exhibit in the Gam gallery in the near future (Student 6_Mid reflection).

…this experience will change how I will approach my practice because it has shown me the kind of passion and drive that is necessary to pursue art. It is not only finding what you are most passionate about but also being persistent, motivated and organized, and allowing yourself the time and energy to pursue a practice (Student 28_Final reflection).

In terms of developing my own practice, seeing an exhibition like Amour Fou being put together bit by bit really makes me want to try approaching exhibition as a medium, to try to express my ideas through not just an individual artwork, but a body of works, a somewhat continuous narrative. It makes me think more about the dialogue between all my works, and how that could be translated into an entity of conceptual coherence and consistency (Student 30_Final reflection).

The most important component of the partnership and the experience would be the realization in need of more background knowledge in today’s art scene. Beyond the classroom, I will be approaching my practice and goals with wider range of view in order to grasp the sense and direction of this trend in art, and perhaps also seek if this trend in art is also currently prevailing in other parts of the world as well (Student 14_Final reflection).

It was kind of nice to see that even established Artists leave things to the last minute and encounter hiccups along the way in things like installation and permits and such. It made me feel not so far below them, and coming out of University preparing to enter that world, it made me less scared of it. I still have a lot of work to do but it doesn’t seem as out of reach as it did before (Student 18_Final reflection).

This partnership and experience was incredibly new for me. I have little contact with the art world in an employment scenario and it was incredibly eye opening to see even just a small part of how it works. It has created an interest to further my resume towards more art-oriented jobs, rather than simply apply to a job to obtain money (though it probably will come to that at the start) (Student 22_Final reflection).

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