Does art reflect our reality or does our reality reflect our art?
The human imagination has kindled a plethora of ideas that have manifested into real structures – buildings, bridges, cars, and new technology. In addition, humans simulate realities that are akin to desires, wants, needs by producing music, fine art and literature. Does the reception of our thought patterns elucidate our visual pictures? Or does the perception of those visual pictures that surround us in our daily lives create the thought waves that then signal the internal screen for playback in the imagination? However we choose to describe it, we must try to grasp the fact that we are attempting to dissect a process that is in a constant state of flux.
Psychosclerosis, a “hardening of the attitudes” has certainly infected a major portion of the American culture. As we welcome the 21st century, its resulting side-effects include a physique so grotesque that the wasting of human life has become more than a past-time. The once repulsive compulsion to kill fellow humans has evolved into a sport via video gaming. Civilization is becoming its own endangered species because we have allowed our media to become mediocre… Villains are glamorized as heroes for taking potshots at a passersby. This scenario not only makes the top story on the nightly news, but also somehow disguises itself as dramatic possibility and is often sold for a high price as tempting contraband. Actually, aesthetics tells us that these “true-life dramas” are not dramatic by content or nature, nor do they represent the truth of life in any way. Not to mention that they are hardly charming or interesting. Yet, the “hardened attitudes” of the modern audience seem to really lap this up. Theses stories are stained with real human blood. They are spoiled, curdled to an unhealthy point. In truth, they are poisonous and can be fatal to the mind, the body and the spirit.
Like scientists examining a culture of bacteria in a petri dish, we need to scrutinize how the first cells of art and culture start to form. A thought drifts into the human mind. As each thought enters the body it vibrates into a “feeling.” As the thought passes through its feeling stage, it collects the energy to move into action. However, psychology tends to reverse this pattern, looking at behavior from the action stage, back to the feeling, and then to the thought stage. I propose that through examination of the creative process (tracking forward from thoughts into actions) we might be able to avoid much of societal despair. What I am suggesting is that by learning how to engineer the process that creates the art, we can then begin examining the process that constructs the social formations that create our realities. We realize that the disaster stories in the nightly news can document our reality into fiction – and our fears into a potential for even more disasters. Perhaps we need to find an approach that will be able to transcend the limits of ordinary reality, one that lets us break through the barriers of time and space. It is then possible to bridge the gap between the real and imaginary, between sociology and art, with a new set of blueprints and patterns of words? We know that words effect us; they make us think and they make us feel certain ways in certain situations. We have seen how the media is using this to its own advantage. And often our media images depict humanity in a somewhat bleak and dismal setting. Yet, could it be that art might be the best deliverance from that possible eventuality?
My particular response to this question is a new approach to pedagogy called “Formative Stages” that explores the purpose, scope and nature of the creative process. The creator arrives upon the art “form, and begins the “form”ative creative process – re”forming”, con”forming”, de”forming” the work until he or she finds just the correct formula that works as the creative solution. Above all, the theatrical setting forms words into living realities, allowing audiences to think and feel simultaneously, breaking the bonds of alienation and communicating the transformative power of the creative process.
I hope to gain further insight on the primordial picture of art by studying the process that weaves words and other elements artistically into a fabric transparent to the “either/or” mentality – until imagination and reality are at last synthesized. Upon completion of my academic / creative research, I plan building a network of new art that will create a brighter reality by the formation of words into living realities. The formation of words in literature employs an unencumbered process. Through the very core of its structure, it permits us to delve into alternative models of human experience. It enables us to be in two realities at once, one real, one imagined. In literature we may find the roots to the same cultural processes used in the development of social structures. I’d like to suggest that the initial link between art and sociology is the movement between. It is thus actualized by the very essence of the conjunction “and” which allows the process of vacillation between them. If cultivated properly, art just might be a deliverance from division. If we can use the ampersand to sculpt society through the artistic process, the divisions will eventually fade. But first, the artistic approach must be accepted into mainstream reality. The business departments, the industrialists must look to the way of the artist, and accept the artist’s way as more than frivolous, recognizing the tremendous transformative power in art. Looking back to the beginning surge of the Industrial Revolution, society started to automate and expand its physical strength through mechanical transformers. Now it must expand its imagination. We need to take a revised look at art as a science, and see the science of life, in its rawest formations breed into art.
Maybe the creation of a society that questions the reality of its fiction and the fiction of its reality is only a page turn away. Conceivably it is no longer a question of controlling what is real; instead, is it a question of controlling the market analysis that controls what the individual assumes to be real? Perhaps then, we will able to give birth to the new science that is no longer bipolar in its relations of the art and the social – a new science that is born out of a culture that was modified to be the perfect blend of both fact and fiction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a research fellow at the Hybrid Reality Institute at CUNY. She sits on THE STEAM ACADEMY’s Curriculum and Programs Development Committee and Executive Board of Directors. Currently, Coni is also working in collaboration with composers Joe Izen and Joe Kelly on a socially significant theatre project that explores the potential of man’s creative interaction with technology in the aftermath of singularity.
THE STEAM TEAM, an internationalof educators, researchers, artists, scientists, and other valued individuals sharing our vision are developing a revolutionary, global education model for education. We’re devoted to our vision of producing and packaging our curriculum and proven methods in a manner that will provide free, online access to innovative and progressive K-12 education to educators and families worldwide.
Through our “Schools That Work” model curriculum of integrated fine arts and technology, project based, collaborative learning, international student peer relations and unique focus on service oriented living, THE STEAMwill foster student expression, social and emotional health and cultivate creativity, ingenuity and global awareness. Each student will grow tremendously as we deliver enriched, individualized and engaging instruction of the national core curriculum while paying special attention to the skills will need to become successful and fulfilled adults of the 21st century.
Students will graduate having immovable, strong moral character, cultural perspective, unparalleled social strength, humility and confidence as they enter the world having achieved excellence in academics, entrepreneurial thinking, problem solving, critical thinking and engaged social responsibility.
We’re working to create a place of learning that is a reflection of the world at large- a microcosm of what life will bring and how it will come, so as to best prepare our resourceful and proactive future leaders.
Because of our shared belief that the visual and performing arts are vital to the effective, thorough education of any student, THE STEAM TEAM is also dedicated to the implementation of comprehensive fine arts The current initiatives of United Artists Foundation involve supplementing existing schools in the Foundation. with enriching arts education experiences. We’re also looking forward to collaborating with international organizations and educational entities so as to support any and all efforts to integrate and infuse the arts into the instruction of students worldwide.and abroad. In collaboration with accomplished, talented visual and , we’ve created
- United Artists Foundation ~ Artists Supporting the Arts in Public Schools (thesteamacademy.wordpress.com)
- STEAM ACADEMY – An Innovative Approach to Global Education (thesteamacademy.wordpress.com)
- International Collaboration ~ Student “Solutionaries” (thesteamacademy.wordpress.com)
- Why I love project-based learning (shelleywright.wordpress.com)
The STEAM Academy and Global Children’s Village are teaming up to present one of the most innovative and practical educational programs in the world. Using thinking and learning methodologies from both the sciences and the arts, scientists and fine artists of all kinds will collaborate with learners of all ages all over world in creating projects that not only educate the whole child, but that also solve problems found in our communities and in the world.
The first step in our global initiative will be to identify 8-12 schools all over the world in which to initialize our programs. In each school, at least one local scientist from an institution of higher learning or from a community corporation will be teamed with a fine artist. This pair will visit a specific classroom or school and collaborate with the learners to create a project with both science and art components. Each project at each school will target a particular social, health or infrastructure problem such as creating clean water or promoting community health through vaccines or through better habits. As learners solve problems in their communities and in the world, they will be developing a variety of thinking, planning and teamwork skills from the fine arts and from STEM processes. The result? Problems solved. Kids educated- well. Our shared vision of preparing youth to become local, national and global “solutionaries,” a term coined by social educator Zoe Weill, will begin to be realized.
Yes, such revolutionary approaches to education will prepare students to master core knowledge and skills. Our ultimate goal, however, is not to simply help students pass tests. It is not to only to ensure that learners will graduate from high school, enter college and go on to lead successful careers. We are preparing students to enter the world with talents and skills that will help them to solve the problems caused by generations past and perpetuated, even worsened, by us. Essentially, it is our responsibility to ready our children to save the world- and us.
We bring the arts to schools immediately by hiring and aligning teaching artists with schools throughout the country for intensive, two-week “artist in residencies.” We also work with advocacy groups, focusing our energy and resources in our efforts to reinstate in public schools the teaching positions of full time arts education specialists. Training professional artists to become teaching artists, enabling us to employ them for public school workshops and artist in residencies is also among our organizational objectives.
Our vision is to conquer two pervading and seemingly perpetual cultural crises- that of the questionable nature of the fine arts being an essential component of a comprehensive, highly effective education and also of the need for our fine artists to be employed and to be properly recognized as contributors to our cultural progression.
The visual and performing arts play an essential role in education. Due to the circumstances of public education policy and the prioritization of funding, most students across the United States and abroad are not receiving the education that is deserved.
Gaping holes exist in our public schools with regards to comprehensive and enriching fine arts programs. In most classrooms, the visual and performing arts are not being integrated into instruction of the core curriculum.
Furthermore, multicultural fine arts are severely under appreciated in our current society. Visual and performing artists of all genres tend to suffer financially, unless of course they are of the rare group that happens to find great success in doing that which is their passion. Achieving stability in an arts related field has even become very difficult. Now more than ever before, fine artists are constantly in search of income from jobs relating their talents.
We are a highly collaborative organization and we invite strategic partnerships and alliances with other non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals. There is power, success and fulfillment to be found when we align and creatively develop programs and strategies. We therefore we are always aiming to find logical and mutually beneficial relationships.
There are so many ways that you can help us in our efforts in bringing the visual and performing arts into schools NOW. For more information on how to support this important work, please email: KidsNeedTheArts@gmail.com
- How to Make America Innovative, Competitive, and Prosperous
- John M. Eger: The Future of Business Is the Arts
- Why Integrate the Arts into the Classroom? Part 3
- Why Integrate the Arts into the Classroom? Part 2
- Why Integrate the Arts into the Classroom? Part 1
- You Say You Want a Revolution: Notes on Arts, Education, and Crisis
- Neuroscience and the Arts
- ArtsSmarts: Engaging children and youth in the creative process
- The Arts are the Key
- I See, I Think, I Wonder
Global Children’s Village is an alliance of international charitable organizations for women, children, families, community and cultural development, clean technology and the preservation of the environment and natural resources. Through creative, active, solution driven collaboration, the alliance sustains the efforts of member organizations that bring education, clean water, sustenance, hospitals, health care, shelter, supplies, relief, opportunity and hope to impoverished children and their families in developing countries throughout the world. Representatives of allied organizations share ideas, resources and efforts for sustaining funds, raising awareness and generating public support.
Association with this organization enables students, teachers and families to be engaged with network of individuals working to enhance the lives of children and their families across the globe. As active members, STEAM ACADEMY seeks to facilitate and foster the growth, development and sustaining efforts of G.C.V. organizations. Through the use of video-streaming and other innovative technologies, students attending schools utilizing STEAM ACADEMY’s education model engage in collaborative “solutionary” projects, wherein learners are guided to tap into a harmony of the fine arts and sciences to solve problems that somehow are relevant to their lives. In this tremendously powerful process, STEAM students develop meaningful relationships with international STEAM students attending schools created by G.C.V.’s partnered charitable organizations such as Project Rhino (India), Mupenzi Children’s Home (Uganda) Africa Heartwood Project (Ghana) and Liberia Education Project.
STEAM ACADEMY students build character by generating ideas and realizing solutions for all Global Children’s Village charitable organizations. Orienting students to live meangfully is a priority of STEAM ACADEMY and we firmly believe that service is essential to a purposeful, fulfilling life. Through required course projects, STEAM K-12 students develop innovative thought and capitalize upon a harmony of arts and sciences while in pursuit of solutions to human, animal and environmental devastation. The following is an ever-growing list of organizations partnered with or endorsed by Global Children’s Village and STEAM ACADEMY.
Project Rhino identifies children who do not have access to basic healthcare or cannot regularly attend school due and provides them with a free education, food, and medical care. The platform delivers an accredited primary school education through engaging online lesson plans and the help of over 300 annual volunteers. Sponsor Sawgrass Shack added interactive games and lesson plans to the curriculum, engaging students in learning as they make adjustments from their disadvantaged backgrounds.
Head First facilitates lasting socioeconomic impact within impoverished communities. Their collaborative, founding philosophy is that the need of individuals in such communities is fairly simple and all encompassing- sufficient tools to reshape their own world.
Africa Heartwood Project is a grassroots non-profit seeking to redress causes and symptoms of poverty in West Africa by providing humanitarian aid, education and development work. Their small-scale, targeted efforts at the family and community level address poverty and marginalization using measurable, sustainable, socially-conscious methods. AHP’s current efforts to make the world a better place include projects like the AHP Orphan Home, village clean water projects and deaf student vocational education.
Liberia Education Project believes education is the key to unlock the potentials of young people, which are in short supply in Liberia; especially, for those disadvantaged young boys and girls in the towns and villages of rural Liberia who have no hope of ever stepping foot into a classroom. They establish and provide quality, affordable education to children and adults in Liberia.
Mupenzi Children’s Home provides shelter, protection, sustenance, and love, all under one roof- a true Home. Founded by a former orphan of Uganda, The Mupenzi Project also aims to initiate a campaign against child sacrifice in Uganda by educating people who participate in such disturbing practices. Through their outreach programs, volunteers visit villages to identify and address the needs of Uganda’s homeless, impoverished, abused and neglected children. Mupenzi hopes to expand by building a new community shelter for children, wherein they will provide and nurture a second loving home- a family- for more children.
One World Youth Project directly aligns with G.C.V. & STEAM ACADEMY, as they link schools around the world to build mutual respect and understanding among students and provide the global life skills needed for success in the interconnected 21st century.
iEARN-USA, a founding sponsor of The Global Education Conference, is the world’s largest non-profit global network that enables young people to use the internet and other innovative technologies to engage in collaborative educational projects that both enhance learning and make a difference in the world. Established in 1988 as a pioneering online program among schools in the United States and in the Soviet Union, iEARN is now active in more than 30,000 schools and youth organizations in 130 countries.
The Global Education Conference is a collaborative, world-wide community initiative involving students, educators, and organizations at all levels. It is designed to significantly increase opportunities for building education-related connections around the globe while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity. Member educators, schools, organizations and other individuals of the conference share ideas, examples, and projects related to connecting educators and classrooms with a strong emphasis on promoting global awareness, fostering global competency, and inspiring action towards solving real–world problems.
TRAFFIC Jam (Global) is committed to preventing circumstances of modern day slavery. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry and is predicted to soon overtake drug trafficking. Through their valued, trusted partners, Traffic Jam saves children from sex slavery and child militias by funding trafficking prevention, rescue and aftercare programs around the world.
The Trevor Project runs the Trevor Lifeline, a 24-hour, national crisis and suicide prevention lifeline for gay and questioning teens.
GLSEN Network and envisions a world in which every child learns to accept and respect all people. The organization works to ensure safe schools for ALL children by providing information and instructional resources for parents, teachers and students. GLSEN facilitates the implementation of awareness programs including The National Day of Silence and No Name Calling Week.
Courage to Hope (Ukraine) brings relief to women who have fallen prey to domestic abuse by providing safe, clean shelters, personal care supplies and first aid to women in Ukraine. CTH then fosters their independence, preparing them for employment. Like CAM Foundation (United States), Courage to Hope prepares individuals with skills essential for success and fulfillment.
Global Children’s Village is an association of like-minded charitable organizations realizing that the benefactors of creating relationships of mutual benefit and collaboration are those who are served – those in need. The mission of G.C.V. aligns with STEAM ACADEMY’s focus on instilling in students the immeasurable value of collaboration- the enhancement of solutions that is made possible by motivated, collective ideas and action.
For more information about becoming a partner, employee, sponsor, donor or volunteer, please contact Global Children’s Village at: GlobalChildrensVillage@gmail.com
The Center for the Arts in Natick (Massachusetts)
Many towns have something like this – a local arts organization that is run and supported by neighbors. Some are more successful than others, but they survive, just. A few towns over from mine is a great organization and space in an old fire station. It’s known as The Center for Arts in Natick – TCAN for short. I came to know of TCAN when my son’s rock band played at their once a month rock concert – known as Rock Off Main St. Rock Off Main is the longest running all-ages rock venue in the area. For 13 years, rocker mom, Diane Young has organized and hosted the Rock Off Main series of rock shows. The arts center has state of the art sound and lighting along with a cool stage.
Diane, who recently became a grandma, has a vested…
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Solving America’s education problems continues to be a conundrum. Our educational system poses unique dilemmas including diverse students, curricular choice, and even the purpose of education. Given the persistent and discouraging results in trying to improve our educational system, it is time to seriously rethink our ideas about school reform.
The most overlooked and most important aspect of education reform is the student. This long has been the case. Writing in the early 20th century, education theorist, John Dewey, argued that “the center of gravity is outside the child. It is the teacher, the textbook, anywhere and everywhere you please except in the immediate instincts and activities of the child.”
Jean Piaget, who first championed the understanding of children’s cognitive development, also stressed the importance of the student’s role in education. As Piaget stated, “Knowledge is not given to the passive observer, rather it must be discovered and constructed by…
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