A key question when working in collaborations is: who benefits from these projects?
Community art work is about learning together and from each other; in the process we learn about ourselves as we edit together, explore processes, gain insights, make work, generate collective knowledge. Community art is as valid, urgent and valuable as ‘high art’.
It helps raise awareness, brings about change, preserves histories, creates testimonials, documents realities, records dreams and memories. Most importantly, it sustains hope. Working and learning together in collaborative and participatory art education projects, we are often able to affect social and societal change and policies over time. Our work is based on collaboration, participation, sharing stories and experiences, and exchanging skills and knowledge. I have been hugely inspired by the work of artist, activist and academic Deborah Barndt (York U, Toronto) and Freire’s popular education work. The work of artists Lily Yeh, Wendy Ewald, Jo Spence, Keith Kennedy and Terry Dennett have shaped my own understanding of collaboration.
‘The artist is a conduit through which lost things are recovered’.