An Audacious Conversation on Ex–Centric Alternatives

Burren College of Art Time, Space & Inspiration

An Audacious Conversation on Ex–Centric Alternatives

Harvest from the 20th Anniversary Celebration

Purpose of the gathering:

Stories of historical and contemporary alternative approaches from the US and Europe served to stimulate conversation, elicit new understandings and served as ‘sparks’ to ignite new possibilities in arts education. Contributors included Uffe Elbaek, former Danish Minister for Culture, founder of KaosPilots leadership school in Denmark and of “The Alternativet” political party;  Professor Brian Butler, Director of Black Mountain College Museum; Tracy Meisterheim, Director of the Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability at Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden; and Mary Hawkes Greene, Founder and President of the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaghan, Ireland.

Thursday Morning Theme of the Day:  Expanding the Horizon / Blowing the Heart Open

  • Welcome and Opening of the Audacious Conversations
  • Welcome to the Burren College of Art, Mary Hawkes Greene, BCA President and Founder
  • Introduction to the Burren and Place-Based Learning, Brendan Dunford, Founder of Burrenbeo Trust
  • Framing the Audacious Conversations, Tracy Meisterheim, Chris Chapman, Mary Alice Arthur (Facilitators), Eimear McNally (Graphic Harvestor)

Opening Harvest
Participant questions from the Opening Circle of the Audacious Conversation on Universal Creativity (these are sorted into categories that emerged as we harvested them)

Education - General
How can we sustain and enhance education in our changing world? Can transformative learning experiences be achieved at scale? How can we make education more engaging and inspiring for all? How can we practically mainstream creativity in 2nd level education?

Education - Art Schools
How can we get young people interested & engaged in contemporary art methods & concepts in the classroom? How can art be a research method? What is possible for an art school to become that no art school has been yet? What is the potential role and social function of the art school in a time of economic and environmental crisis? How can we raise awareness and interest in art educations in Ireland? What can art education be as part of a democracy? What is a way to broaden value of art & design education? How can schools of art and design build on the past and contribute to expanding the possibilities for human culture in the future? Are alternative models of art education going to survive in a time of economic severity and cutbacks?

Burren College of Art
What is the future of BCA in the world? What will BCA prototype with a passion after this weekend? Will BCA still be here at all and in what format?

How do we get the general public to understand the importance of art to our humanity? How does art engage struggling urban centers? Can creativity be non-destructive? How can I/we dance between directionality & focus and the unknown space between? Can the visual arts compete with the society we live in which is bombarded with visual imagery in media/internet etc.? Why does Ireland place such little value on the visual arts and its practitioners? How do I depict my feelings about the Burren in a painting? Does the ‘mood’ of the art created here in the winter change from that in other seasons?

Art Across Disciplines
How can artists truly effect change in the area of sustainability? How can art education engage scientific/environmental ‘policy’? What could an art college also be? What story might open the door to universal creativity? What is the relationship between narrative models of thought and representational thinking in conceptualizing (?) about politics and arts?

Personal Capacities
How can I maintain the level of awareness I experience while walking or making art outside of those activities? How can we connect to passion & productivity to create a more desirable world? Why do we not pay more attention to listening, not preaching? What support would be helpful to leaders/educators, in building capacity for stepping courageously into innovative new models of transformative learning?
Connection to Nature & Place
Is the human relationship with nature necessarily destructive & dysfunctional? Is where you come from important to you? What is the role of ‘place’ in an art education?

Burren Questions
I wonder about the word ‘erratic’…we use it to describe the boulders that have been left behind by the ice flows, but which came first: geological designations or commentary on an individual’s behavior? Who were the original people who came to the Burren and why did they come here? How could that history be incorporated into the Burren College of Art? How can the landscape be preserved from development?

Larger Than Self Questions
How can we achieve world peace? How do we create a future where our children have the freedom and power to live their lives? How can we make change happen? Opening minds? How do I/we stay open and available to the fullness of life – the terror and beauty? What can we do to better get to grips? How can dynamic/brave ideas be disseminated better in the public sphere? Why do clouds block out the sun?

See photos from this session here

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