Contemporary art is the art of today, produced by artists who are living in the twenty-first century. Contemporary art provides an opportunity to reflect on contemporary society and the issues relevant to ourselves, and the world around us. Contemporary artists work in a globally influenced, culturally diverse, and technologically advancing world. Their art is a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenge traditional boundaries and defy easy definition. Diverse and eclectic, contemporary art as a whole is distinguished by the very lack of a uniform, organizing principle, ideology, or ‘ism.’ Contemporary art is part of a cultural dialogue that concerns larger contextual frameworks such as personal and cultural identity, family, community, and nationality.
Critical pedagogy is a term that applies to a number of educational perspectives that address the issue of power in teaching and learning. Important contributors to these perspectives include Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Henry Giroux. Critical pedagogy is best understood not as a single theory, but as a range of possible educational responses to social structures and relations that are unequal or oppressive. The “critical” in critical pedagogy refers to the ability to analyze, expose and challenge the hidden social, cultural and political processes that are a part of knowledge production, including how one’s own views and assumptions come from a particular cultural and historical formation.
Critical pedagogy encourages educators to not only be aware of injustices but to take action to transform the practices and structures that perpetuate them. Ultimately, critical pedagogy seeks to provide education that is democratic, emancipatory, and empowering to students.
Critical theory for us describes an interdisciplinary field of study. It provides a way of understanding institutions, such as the art world and education, in terms of the ideas and knowledge they produce and reproduce in our society, which is characterized by the unequal distribution of power. It involves looking at the ideas that shape cultural practices such as visual art, media, advertising and entertainment. Additionally, critical theory enables the examination of particular facets of these practices, such as the nature of representation, artistic authority and voice.
Pedagogy is the whole art of teaching. Our program looks at the ways in which pedagogy can include making decisions about curriculum, how and in whose interest knowledge is produced and passed on, and what instructional methods best serve both the educator’s teaching philosophy and the needs of diverse student populations.
Praxis is practice, or action, with the thoughtfulness of reflection. Praxis as an idea emerged from the work of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who described it as “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.” (1990, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, p.36). It embodies our belief that theory and practice are not binary opposites, but rather complements that work together to further one’s lifelong growth as an artist-educator.
Social activism addresses social, political, cultural, and economic inequities by organizing and connecting individuals with a community-based movement in order to enact social change. While social services address the needs of individuals, social action looks more at the root causes of injustice and tries to find ways to organize communities in an effort to eliminate or overcome those injustices.