I am an artist and educator. My art practice ranges from freestanding sculpture to wall pieces, to museums, and gallery installations to public art pieces and community-centered projects.
When I engage with communities to enable new insights through a creative activity, I allow stories to emerge in art-pieces. I usually want to work, or pursue an art project with marginalized communities or people who are displaced through forced migration. By marginalized people I mean, those who are excluded from society due to race, gender, identity, religion, language and immigration status. Through creating a safe space, and the alternation of the surroundings, or by showing examples and the exchange of ideas, a shift of perception might happen.
I see that, in this process, my focus and interests shift from a studio-centered practice to a participatory-centered practice. This involves adaption to the conditions I find, rather than imposing being the creator of the artwork.
This shift, is a shift to a more pedagogical practice or what I understand to be the work of an Artisteducator.
When I developed myself as a visual artist, I gathered an expended knowledge of techniques, and material. I learned as well over the years, that I could use my art and artistic skills to enable a change of perceiving. I have experienced that the narrative strength of an artwork can leave an imprint on someone's self-awareness, and therefore an artwork might offer other perspectives to a narrative.
The master at IMAE has only strengthen this notion and showed me that there is a need for Artisteducators.
Besides being a visual artist, I am the director of an artist in residency in the Netherlands (ARE: Artist Residencies Enschede), an art teachere and the former head of the Fine Arts department at the University of the Arts (ArtEZ).
As an Artistseducator I combine my art practice and my knowledge in the educational and international field into new methods of working.
My background in Yoga and Buddhist philosophy helps me to be present and support those who suffer due to a traumatic experience or other challenges caused by displacement.
As a research method I collect data by sharing experiences, with those I work with.
I visualize the individual stories through drawing, and use these drawings to co-produce ideas for an artwork. This could be a tapestry, a drawing, a performance or a sculpture. I engage with the people in the community, in such a way that it often just accelerates what they are already doing, and that the art can become a vehicle for expressing and amplifying their voice, through sometimes minor adaptations.
During my final project at IMAE I worked with a group of women from different migration backgrounds. Their challenges were to find ways to integrate, to deal with traumatic experience and to adept in their new environment.
Their common interest was sewing, some of them came already together every week to repair cloths. Together with these women, we created a tapestry which was a visual story or one could call it a journey, of their experiences and shared life-stories.
This process gave them agency in creating something together, and outlet to express their feelings and emotions and they learned from each other and connected with the other community members. In the meanwhile, they learned the language and became more confident in sharing and expressing.
IMAE has also given me the theoretical foundation to write teaching programs for communities, educational programs and cultural institutions.
Underpinning my overall development by the critical pedagogy of Paulo Freire (1970) the knowledge of socially engaged art by Pablo Helguera (2011) and the highlighted social aspect of bell hooks (1994) which have been so helpful in connecting the artist and educator within myself.
My intention is to dedicate the congregated skills, my theoretical foundation and my artistic practice as a visual artist, to create art projects in collaboration with marginalized communities to enable them to share their stories and support their voices being heard.
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