The 33rd InSEA World Congress, Budapest (27-30 June, 2011): Art-Space-Education

The themes of the 33rd InSEA World Congress  included cultural spaces – that explored art education from a cultural, anthropological and sociological perspective; common spaces between arts and science – that explored the synergy of creation in fine arts, the liberal arts and science; spaces and objects – that explored environmental consciousness in the 21st century; virtual art spaces – that explored the creative potentials of new imaging technologies; new spaces for art education – that explored multimedia in museums and virtual museums; issue based art education and authentic assessment in art education. One of the highlights of the congress was the InSEA awards ceremony during which The Sir Herbert Read Award was presented to John Steers for significant lifelong contributions to art education in schools and society, in his own country and throughout the World. The Edwin Ziegfeld Award was presented to Rachel Mason for significant contributions to scholarship in art education and the Mahmoud El Bassiouny Award was presented to Angelika Plank for special service and contribution to InSEA. For more information on awards, please visit the Awards section. Another interesting highlight of the congress was the First InSEA Art Exchange, a Slovenian initiative that aimed to foster international friendship, cooperation and networking in the arts education world.

The Hungarian Art Education Showcase at the congress provided an opportunity for us to see what is new and exciting about Hungarian art and design education. There were several museum education programs organized at the Ludwig Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Hungarian National Gallery and the Hungarian Open Air Museum.  There were an incredible number of presentations and discussions on the Congress themes put together into ninety-one sessions, seventeen workshops, thirteen symposia and an impressive exhibition of artworks from Japan, Kenya, Germany and Hungary. The congress concluded with an elegant sunset dinner cruise on boat ‘Europa’ on the beautiful Danube River. For more information on the congress, please visit the Congress site. Following extracts are some reflections and memories from the congress participants.

Rita Irwin, Canada: I hope all of you enjoyed the World Congress. I am happy to announce that the congress was a success in many ways.  Over one hundred Hungarian art educators attended the congress creating a whole new energy for art education across the country!  Participants came from over sixty countries and we had well over 600 attendees.  If my memory isn't correct here, I have tried to be conservative, so it could very well be that even more attended the congress.  The congress had a wonderful collection of exhibits, a stimulating research pre-conference, thought provoking keynotes and sessions, and lots of occasions for people to network with other art educators from around the world.  I want to thank Andrea Karpati and Emil Gaul once again for hosting InSEA and congratulate them for all of the success the congress brought to InSEA and its members.

Mousumi De, USA / India: In December 2005, somebody from the Coventry peace gallery sent me an email about a call for papers on the theme of art and peace. The closing date for paper submissions was in September 2005, but I sent a message to the organizer anyway, asking about the possibility to present a project that I was doing. To my surprise, the organizer made an exception, as it was an interesting topic and somebody could not make it to the conference, so I could fill that space. When I went to the conference, I could not believe that there existed an entire community of people dedicated to the education of art and education through art. It was the InSEA world congress in Viseu organized by Teresa. Five years hence, I am typing this text for that very community of people and it all started with a random email. The most memorable part of the Budapest congress for me, was when there was a power failure during one of the keynote sessions. The room was suddenly filled with discordant noise, until Graham’s powerful voice broke through the cacophony, and calmed everybody for Rita to make an announcement. She asked people to turn around and introduce themselves to people they did not know while the generator was being set up. It was a very simple but a powerful act; it resonated with one of the founding philosophies of InSEA - to use the arts to promote international understanding. It all starts with a random dialogue.


Teresa Eca, Portugal: Budapest is a very special place and an InSEA world congress is a very special event. This year the World Congress in Budapest was a unique and special experience. Meeting friends, discussing art education issues with colleagues from all around the world, meeting new people, sharing ideas and planning common projects for the following years - this is what is unique and fascinating in InSEA congresses. This one was also special for me because we publicly expressed our thanks to the great people who built in InSEA, this wonderful network of art educators: John Steers, Rachel Mason, and Angelika Plank.  I shall never forget the days I spent in Budapest, with the bright colours and music of the roman children dancing for us, the luxurious architecture of the city and the wonderful Magyar landscapes.  For that I need to thank the great work of the people who generously invited us to come to Budapest: Anikó Illés, , Gabriella Pataky  , Emil  Gaul and Andrea  Karpati  and all the others who received us in their hearts.


Purnima Sampat, India: It was with some apprehension that I registered for the event and the eventual trip to Budapest to attend the World Congress of InSEA. I did not know any of the councilors, except on emails and the two people who I knew traveling from India, had already booked their stay, so there was going to be no one I knew. My first morning was spent locating the venue and trying to figure out the transport systems. Of course once I reached there, my entire day was spent attending sessions, some of which were very interesting and stimulating. From the next day onwards my days became more interesting. I got busy attending the official council events and meetings, which was my first opportunity to meet all the councilors in person and exchange views. It was very heartening to learn that everyone shared the same excitement towards art education, and also to know that a lot of the people I met were keen to come to India to attend an event. But it was the time beyond the conference sessions that will be the most memorable moments of the trip. I met many members from several countries and the time spent with them was unforgettable. We explored the city, its architectural sites, various restaurants and baths. These social outings were also opportunities to engage in interesting ideas and exchange information about the work we do in our countries. Looking back, I feel, the trip was a great way to bond, share ideas and thoughts and get to know many people. I look forward to attending many more such events in the future.

Carl-Peter Buschkuehle, Germany: I saw interesting presentations and met many colleagues at the Budapest-congress. These meetings were rather intensive this time; we discussed research aspects and controverse positions in art education (for instance relations and controverses between "Visual Culture Art Education" and "Artistic Education" which stresses more the element of artistic production and educating artistic thinking). Budapest was a beautiful place, no question. It is hoped that future congresses could be a bit better, both in terms of origanization as well as the presence of the hosts. It is commendable however, that in spite of difficulties the organizers did their best. 


Atsushi Sumi, Japan: This was my third InSEA conference participation and the last two congresses I attended were in Osaka and Lapland. I had a good experience with researchers from so many foreign countries. My research is about developing simple and effective evaluation methods in art education for elementary teachers that involves children in the development of the evaluation process.  I presented one paper at the congress and was obsessed with reading the manuscript  word by word. I am a typical Japanese !!  But after my presentation people asked me many questions and my presentation was appreciated. In the Osaka 2008 congress I formed a good network with Spanish art educators and since then we have been conducting joint research. Compared to the Osaka congress, I did not find many opportunities to form network at the Budapest congress. However, my participation at the congress contributed to my overall knowledge and experience in art education. I spoke with researchers from several countries, attended their presentations and enjoyed the good view of the Danube River at night. I look forward to participating at the next InSEA regional congress in Cyprus and the World congress in Melbourne.


Georgia Kakourou-Chroni, Greece: I am very glad I managed to attend the last InSEA congress in Budapest. There are always interesting papers and discussions at InSEA conferences that provide opportunities for dialogue within our self and with others. These opportunities enrich our experience and engagement with the arts in education, and help us recognize the steps we have to take to improve our research further, to discover ways to renew our methods, and broaden our hearts and minds. The Congress also acquainted us with the amazing culture of the city of Budapest. Being a curator of the National Gallery in Greece, I am very happy that I was able to attend the interesting museum educational programmes. On the evening of the Night of the Museums, the museums were full of people and had many strong and interesting images to reflect upon. That night the Danube River was red with all the hues of red color during sunset. It reminded me of the many pasts the city of Budapest has had. The old glory and nobility of Buda seemed to balance the dynamism and pace of Pest. The same balance I felt watching a variety of my colleagues’ lectures and presentations at the congress.


Deniz Soezen, Switzerland: As an art curator and researcher at the Institute for Art Education at the Zurich University of the Arts, I was fortunate to be sent to the 33rd InSEA world congress in Budapest. It was a very stimulating experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet professionals from all over the world. It was a great platform to exchange ideas about the relation of education and art and/or education through art. I am currently working on the development of theory and practice of transcultural art education using new media through a post-colonial perspective. I found the approaches about cultural education and art education presented in the workshops and lectures to be very diverse, ranging from conservative to critical, as well as artistic and innovative. Over all, it was an extremely valuable and inspiring experience for me.


Rose Mary Aguiar Borges, Brazil:  I have been teaching art in a public school in Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro, for the last thirty years and I have a very close association with InSEA. My first InSEA Congress was in 1993 in Montreal in Canada, and since then I have attended several regional and world congresses at Lisbon, Brisbane, New York, Viseu and Osaka. At the Budapest Congress I presented a workshop titled Color Displacement based on a recycling technique for art making, suitable for elementary level children. I was surprised by the response of my workshop, as we had more than thirty people in the room and it was completely full. There were people from several countries and many students from the Budapest University. The participants at the workshop were very enthusiastic and showed a lot of interest in the technique. The impression I got from the participants in my workshop is that this technique was new to them and it gave me great pleasure in passing on a new and simple technique of art practice. 


Jane Awuor Otieno and Mariam Atieno Olieva, Kenya:  Our visit to Budapest for 2011 InSEA World Congress was truly an amazing experience. It gave us a chance to be in contact with different artist from all around the world and also showcase the works of our students in Kenya, along side works of students from other countries. Interacting with other artists and sharing our experiences of culture, ideas and challenges that we artists go through were very educative. The lecturers and presentations during different sessions motivated us in many ways. Some of these exposed us to various art forms like street art and monumental art, which have not yet been recognized as significant art resources in Kenyan schools, and it has given us something to review and think about back home. The open space exhibition was in an excellent setting with enough space and light, which allowed many people to visit and discuss the artworks we showcased. Back in Kenya, we shared our experiences with our students, who are very excited and cannot wait to take part in the next Art conference. We convey our sincere thanks to the organizers, especially our host Cathleen who made us feel so much at home in Hungary. 


Seija Ulkuniemi, Finland: We meet so many people at InSEA Congresses and make friends with them both professionally as well as personally. However, due to distances and differences in time and space, as well as workload and daily life pressures, we are not always able to communicate and sustain such professional and personal relationships. Such meetings are then unable to bear the fruit of their true potential. During busy congresses like this one, we are often occupied in attending talks and meeting new people that sometimes there is no time to renew old relationships. In this particular Congress, during the InSEA Art Exchange, incidentally, I received through lottery one of my old colleagues artwork with whom I was out of touch for a long time and coincidentally, she received my artwork through the lottery! Receiving each others artworks brought about a renewed reason for dialogue. Both of us now see each other's artworks as treasures, and symbols of possibility for new beginnings. This simple idea of exchanging artworks brought such a new meaning to artworks and how they can mediate deeper feelings in life beyond just a conference event. 


Sahar Khalil, Egypt: I teach curriculum and methods of teaching at the Art Education College of Helwan University and currently involved in a community service and service-learning project Khayrala that aims to engage thousands of children with the arts. My trip to the Budapest Congress was one of the most interesting and fun experiences I have had and I enjoyed the company of many colleagues and professors. I co-presented a paper with my colleagues from Egypt and also presented a poster on the 'virtual dimension of design and art education programs'. It gave me an opportunity to enhance my research skills both while preparing for the conference as well as while I was there meeting up experts from all over the world. It was a real challenge…and real hands on education…as well as fun.