Can art inspire me to think critically about…? (2017)
As the Artist in Residence at Portland State University’s Housing and Residence Life department, I worked closely for three years with the administration, faculty, and students who were part of the Living and Learning Communities in the residence halls. Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, I hosted workshops with first-year students from non-art classes at the Portland Art Museum, and they did assignments designed to get students thinking about the value of art outside of an art context. Those workshops resulted in a series of student projects investigating current events, globalism, immigration, social justice, climate change, intersectional feminism, and police brutality.
After working with the students, I had a lot of questions about the role of artists in society, so I created an award called the Distinguished Socially-Engaged Art(ist) Educators of the Region (DSEAER) award which I used to entice people I admire to answer some of my big questions. Those questions include but are not limited to, “Can artists elucidate the opaqueness of social problems?,” “What is critical thinking?,” and “Who is the museum for?” In exchange for accepting the award, the DSEAERs wrote essays which were published in a book alongside student projects from the workshops; all the students, faculty, and DSEAER's who participated received a free copy and all profits from the book go towards making a scholarship at the university for students to get free passes to the museum. In addition to the book, there was an exhibition featuring student work, a living bibliography performance, an education library in the gallery, free wifi, and a public program highlighting the DSEAERs.
Distinguished Socially-Engaged Art(ist) Educators of the Region 2017
Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed