This morning I had the opportunity to address the VAST teachers with a quote. I wanted to share a thought that reiterates learning and dialogue as the spark for socially engaged conversations.
For most of the week, the museum educators really emphasized the importance of creating a safe community space for conversation. The issues that were brought up are difficult to teach and talk about, but this quote brings back the importance of dialogue.
After that we heard from Paul Farber, the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Monument Lab. This last lecture focused on public history and the impact that monuments have in social spaces. He talked about his project and ways of engaging it with students.
Many teachers were really excited about the Virtual Reality Installations, and other works that were on view last fall in 2017.
My favorite is this one at Vernon Park by Karyn Olivier: “The Battle is Joined.” The piece reconsiders the act of removing problematic monuments from public spaces and instead conceals it to bring attention to its troubled history.
Throughout the week the teachers spent time talking about multiple perspectives, protest art and ways of including mindfulness into the classroom setting. Practicing engagement requires people to be present, and we discussed certain artworks, like Jina (Jain Savior-Saint) Seated in Meditation and compared it to other, more contemporary works like Ascension by Arpana Caur.
(Thanks for the awesome shot Rebecca! Educator Ah-Young Kim with a group of teachers)
Getting the opportunity to spend the week with passionate teachers was really special. Hearing their stories and understanding that they are also part of the same learning process is important.
My advice for the VAST teachers moving forward is continue to practice allyship and to keep learning about ways in which to continue to do this kind of social justice work in the classroom.
Thank you for letting me be a part of VAST 2018!
All my best,
Nana Nieto ⭐️