Art Program


Xavier Cortada

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Art Gallery

Curated by Maria Apostolidis

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Braiding & Sphering

Amber Ward & Rebecca Christ

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Welcome to vCIES Art!

vCIES Art Program explores the innate relationship between Earth, education, and art through the work of amateur and professional contemporary artists. During these uncertain times, the link between global environmental issues and education has deepened, highlighting the important global, local, social, and cultural aspects of this relationship.

vCIES art program includes the work of Amber Ward and Rebecca Christ, Maisa Mreiwed, Amy Scott Metcalfe, Jennifer Fricas, Sara Pan Algarra and Carlos Páez, Reyila Hadeer, Qais Assali, Yingxue Yang, Caitlin Shepherd, Paige Morency-Notario, and Xavier Cortada.

All artworks are woven into the conference program to make a bold move of bringing together not only artists and researchers in education, but also those researchers and practitioners who are thinking and exploring education ideas through art. Some artwork relates directly to education, while other has a more implicit connection. However, all of the presented art engages with the conference theme in a myriad of ways to offer a perspective, approach, or provocation, while encouraging the audience to personally experience and be affected by the art. Collectively, the art makes us pause in the hectic search for answers – how should education research reflect, re-live, and reimagine the pressing climate and educational issues? Through this artistic  platform, we aim to create an inclusive environment to explore, think, fail, support, disrupt, and transform.   

The current global pause, caused by the Covid-19 health pandemic, requires ontologically different approaches to how we think about and envision education, the world, and our place in it – thinking that is not linear and “more-than” but situated, curious, unpredictable, and entangled. With these artistic forms of communication we are changing the “language” for describing the world, thus disrupting habits of mind. We “leave language undefined, and thus acknowledge its open-endedness, its mysteriousness.”

“It may be best, then, to leave language undefined, and to thus acknowledge its open-endedness, its mysteriousness. Nevertheless, by paying attention to this mystery we may develop a conscious familiarity with it, a sense of its texture, its habits, its sources of sustenance.”  (52)
                               – Abram, D. (2012). The spell of the sensuous: Perception and language in a more-than-human world. Vintage.

Submissions for this virtual art program have come from a diverse range of artists. Some were inspired by the ocean’s rich history, folklore, and mythology (Maisa Mreiwed), others were motivated  by the stories of trees (Amy Scott), or an embodied interaction between human beings, their environments, and each other (Jennifer Fricas). Artists also bring into focus the acts of resistance against disappearance (Sara Pan Algarra and Carlos Páez), and envision a new possibility for the reconfiguration of the relationship between the human and non-human (Reyila Hadeer). They challenge the borders of language, politics, geography, technology, and time-scale as points of departure (Areej Mawasi; Qais Assali) and focus on community education and multi-generation interaction (Paige Morency-Notario; Yingxue Yang). Above all, they reflect the closely interwoven connections between human and more-than-human worlds (Amber Ward and Rebecca Christ and Xavier Cortada). 

In addition to the Art Gallery, we invite you to engage with the participatory art. Amber Ward and Rebecca Christ offer an opportunity for us to explore the closely interwoven connections between people and beyond-human worlds. Their interactive art installation Braiding & Sphering invites you to join in making-with, a wording-with each other, humans and non-humans alike. Furthermore, vCIES Artist-in-Residence, Xavier Cortada, brings his art practice to foster social engagement and environmental concerns, and generates awareness about global climate change through the unique experience of inviting us to write Letters to the Future, which will become a part of the mural he is creating.

We hope you will enjoy, explore, create, and weave your voice into this collective effort to make a difference!

Mariia Vitrukh & Ann Nielsen, vCIES Art Program Co-Chairs