Topic: Socially Engaged Practice
Guest Editor: Cathy Smilan, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Social Justice, a central them to democracy has met with controversy as societies debate the virtues of personal freedoms versus abstract philosophical constructs (Miller, 1999). Of late, there has been much discussion of social justice with regard to art for advocacy and consciousness raising; and as such art activism has found its way into the art education dialogue. Be it in political forums or other social constructs ––including schools, community groups and cultural institutions–– one thing upon which debaters agree is that there is no common understanding of the term social justice with regard to meaning, and more importantly, practice. (Bell & Desai, 2011; Miller, 1999). As we as a society grapple with social policy, clearly the concept of agency and impact come to the fore. For artist and art educators, these ideas have lead our increasingly interdisciplinary field to consider how empowering voice through various media can lead to intersectionality (Keifer-Boyd, 2017) and transformative action (Britzman, 2000; Clarke, 2005; Smilan, 2017). While there has been a movement in studio arts programs to include performance events and phenomenology as social practice, sometimes supplanting more traditional, skills-based curricula, many art educators are working to develop learning experiences in which visual and performative skills are continually developed around a larger concept of social justice learning. In the attempts to focus our work on empowering artist/learners to understand their world and impact that work through visual and performative means, a splintering of approaches, including socially engaged art practice, social practice, social justice art education and feminist/humanist perspectives, among others, has occurred in which artists and students strive to identify inequities and raise awareness if not activate change.
This special IMAG issue seeks to highlight projects by artists, community art programs, art educators and art pupils to showcase the important work being undertaken in our schools, museums, and other organizations that raise social consciousness about problems whose negative impact on humans, creatures and the planet can be transformed through changing behaviors.
Deadline for submissions September 30, 2018