January 2023 - June 2025

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Introduction

For my thesis project, I set out to understand how approaches to art making and art education might be adjusted when considering the context of the Anthropocene. What happens when one incorporates a socio-ecological perspective into one's art practice? How are artists and art educators in institutional settings addressing climate change in their practices? What ideas, theories, and practices are guiding these artists and educators? I am interested in the potential for a sustainable art practice to serve as a vehicle towards remembering that we are embedded in this world, not apart from it. 

Most of the theorists, artists, and educators I have researched speak to a Western, European-American context. While emphasis on context is an important undertone to place-based education, Throughout my research, I did not intentionally restrict my scope to a Western-European landscape. It was rather a matter of limited bandwidth that set the parameters. 

I began my research observing Place-Based Learning in Art Education through essays by Daniel Tucker and integral transformative learning theorist, Edmund O’Sullivan. These essays introduced me to further sources for my research, which I will elaborate on below. 

The social and ecological ethics of the anthropocene quickly became a guiding inquiry as I moved forward in my research. I wanted to understand the intersection of Art & Ecology in light of a wider ethical conversation about climate destabilization. Incorporating ecology into art is as critical as ever in face of climate destabilization. But it is important to understand the socio-political context we are in and how we got here. Dipesh Chakrabarty, TJ Demos, and Suzi Gablik, among others helped me understand indigenous, post-colonial, and post-human perspectives.

Weaving in and out of this inquiry was a concern for how this plays out in Education. I came across several theorists and concepts connected these topics to education, including place-based learning and integral transformative learning as discussed by Edmund O’Sullivan, among others.

For clarity’s sake, I have divided this research into three sub-headers:

  • Place-Based Learning in Art Education: Toward Reciprocal Ecologies

  • The Ethics of Reconciliation in the Anthropocene: Activism in Art and Education

  • Moving Beyond Anthropocentrism

 

All three areas of research have been central to my work and research throughout my thesis project. They have overlapped and connected and were critical in guiding my curriculum development for the eco-art classes that were to become my thesis fieldwork, and which I am now (after my fieldwork), continuing to evolve.