What is the point of having an artist in a ‘school’ - isn't it just an 'interruption'?

There are competing ideas as to the role of artists when they are in residence in a school. Some see the role of the artist to provide ‘leadership’, in terms of developing a new work for public display, or performance of some kind. While this might well form a part of an artists’ role, so much more might be derived from the school, if the artist is allowed to be, and let her art decide the way in which episodes within the institution might occur.

In Mary Ann Hunter’s chapter, she examines the role of a visual artist-in-residence with reference to the work of Selena De Caravalho and Laura Hindmarsh. Both artists work in a quite a different manner, not aiming to bring something to ‘do’ with the students, but looking to engage with students in the school environment. The presence of the artists and how the artists as artists work, holds a fascination for Hunter, who looks at the way that interruption – taking her cue from Biesta – absorbs her in what makes education ‘good’, going beyond curriculum frameworks.

This area of ‘process’ that the artists engage in, has received little attention according to Hunter, who follows the artist moving from a teacher, and multi-purpose individual, to one who is in the school being an artist rather than performing a teacher-instructor-training role. Hunter explains, that the potentialities of what may arise in the school space, and being changed by what happens is facilitated in this environment. Observing the tensions between the valuing of personal knowledge and the school, Hunter cites the pressures of the high stakes testing regime, and the need for a counterbalance, in line with an understanding of ‘grown-up-ness’. Countering the terms of ‘achievement’, Hunter asks if the curiosity aroused by the artist is the ‘gift’ that is offered, making the interruption matter.

For more on this see the Art, Artists and Pedagogy website: Art, Artists and Pedagogy contact Chris Naughton: chris@academicservices.biz

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