Presence: the search for wisdom in a socially engaged art education project.
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Citation (published version)Rebecca Bourgault. 2019. "Presence: The search for wisdom in a socially engaged art education project.."
A socially engaged art pedagogical and relational experiment brings to light the necessity to trust the unfolding of personal and communal change as elusive yet credible value. Social practices of art, including art for social justice often situate the goals of their artistic project in qualities of relational exchanges. This paper reviews an experiment led through a pedagogy of presence for an open art studio at a homeless shelter for women. Narrated through the structure of Ground, Path, and Fruition, a Shambala conceptualization of life’s change, the paper is written from a personal, and philosophical storytelling approach. It situates the pedagogy of presence in the art studio as a shared method of discovery, experienced differently by every participant. Part social art practice inflected with quiet activism, part meditation, and borrowing from theories of adult learning, the qualities of presence at the open studio offered a centring counterpoise to the precarious living situation experienced by participants, enhancing human connections through shared artmaking, listening, and a sense of social belonging.