Exploring the souvenir as a means of materializing experience," collaboration as a model for teaching and learning
In the Spring of 2011, I was invited to participate in a women's leadership group consisting of Visual Arts Chairs. Within the context of this group we have been asked to consider approaches of teaching visual art and the dynamics of collaboration and the various questions and assumptions that surface within collaborative models. We often assign collaborative or group projects in the classroom without really engaging in analysis of what collaboration really means and entails. Oftentimes students become discouraged or disillusioned at what they perceive to be an uneven distribution of workload and shared responsibility. Why do we assign collaborative projects? What is the value? How can we better prepare ourselves and our students to navigate the various challenges of such models for teaching and learning?
As a means of testing the various assumptions that we bring to (art) teaching and learning group members were asked to work on a collaborative visual art project with current or former students. "Exploring the souvenir as a means of materializing experience", is the working sentence or prompt that my group came up with during our first brainstorming session. My group comprised of Chloe Briggs, Nate Burbeck and Steve Lemke, (CSB/SJU alumni) and myself, are curious and excited by the possibilities that might arise through a truly collaborative process in which we open ourselves to working outside of our comfort zone in all aspects. This means relinquishing personal control. An inability to imagine an individualized outcome necessitates trust in the process and in one another. Our presentation will discuss our experiences in this process, and its potential as an alternate model for teaching and learning. It also marks the beginning of the dissemination of our experiences. The project continues in an exhibition at The Minneapolis College of Art and Design in January of 2012 and will be accompanied by a document which details the nature of collaboration in its various forms as experienced by the entire group of collaborators.