Art-based enquiry workshops and ESCALA

Posted: 18 November 2014 by ESCALA

Tagged: Jasmine Magana   Gisselle Giron   Cecilia Vicuña

Two of our interns, Gisselle and Jasmine, helped the Learning and Development team here at Essex with a series of object-based learning workshops aimed at helping students increase their research skills. They used two works by Cecilia Vicuña from our Collection. Here's a short blog post they wrote based on their experience.

Art-based enquiry (ABE) at the University of Essex is an educational program born out of the collective work and endeavour of ESCALA and the department of Learning and Development. As one of the events carried out during the 2013 Latin America Week, which focused on the 40th anniversary of the Coup in Chile, ESCALA organised a mini-exhibition of two collages by Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, palabrarma (1974) and eman si pasion/parti si pasion(1974), which she made while exiled in London following the 1973 Coup. The traveling exhibition stopped at various classes from different departments including Government, Human Rights, Art History and Language and Linguistics. The works were taken to each of the classes and a facilitator invited students to share their different readings of the pieces and to motivate them to generate more questions of the Chilean Coup. Dr Kate Dunton and Dr Joanne Harwood saw this exhibition as a jumping board to use the resources at ESCALA as a tool for teaching various academic skills, including the importance of formulating your own questions, referencing, and active discussion. A series of workshops directed to academic staff at Essex were carried out during the 2013-14 academic year. This aimed to motivate lecturers to use art objects in their teaching to train students for academic enquiry. The enquiry process by which every student went through when confronting these pieces seemed effective and able to be transferred and applied to different disciplines. When a biomedical team from the University of Sindh, Pakistan, visited Essex they asked for an ABE workshop and to our surprise they greatly enjoyed of the exercise and commented on how this could motivate their students to gain more confidence towards academic material and this way take ownership over their own questions and findings. The program this year has been re-focused and is now directed to undergraduate and postgraduate students; it aims to ultimately give them the skills and tools necessary to pursue independent research. As of 29th October, Vicuña’s pieces were once again used in workshops which aimed students to identify the differences between effective referencing and plagiarism. Material related to the art pieces was distributed throughout the workshop and students were invited to answer their personal questions regarding the pieces by referencing the material they were offered during the session.

On Gisselle: Gisselle is currently a postgraduate student of History of Art and as ESCALA’s Marketing and Communications frontrunner for the 2013-4 academic year, Gisselle helped developed the ABE project alongside Kate Dunton, from Learning and Development, Joanne Harwood and Sarah Demelo. For her undergraduate research project, Gisselle worked with an art piece from ESCALA, Colombian artist’s Nadín Ospina’s limestone sculpture, Chac Mool (undated) . The rich and unique art collection at Essex was ultimately a determining factor in Gisselle’s decision to continue her studies at Essex.
On Jasmine: Jasmine is currently a postgraduate student of Art History and Theory. As an undergraduate she worked with the Children’s Literacy Project, a Seattle University initiative that places student-volunteers at primary and secondary schools in Seattle’s Central District. Later she was able to establish a connection between an interest in issues of education and her art history coursework as the Museum Education intern at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Whilst at the Getty she assisted in seminars for primary and secondary school teachers on how to incorporate the Getty’s collection into core curriculum classes such as Language Arts and History. This included leading and contributing to workshops, gallery teaching, as well as planning and leading artistic media exploration based on art objects from the museum’s collection.

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