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Art as Activism and Social Justice at Vermont College of Fine Arts

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Art as Activism and Social Justice at Vermont College of Fine Arts


(Image Courtesy of VCFA)

Social justice is the focus of Vermont College of Fine Arts ​MA in Art & Design Education founding faculty member Kim Cosier’s work, from creating activist arts-based community events with the ​Art Build Workers​ to her afterschool media-literacy​ ​Milwaukee Visionaries Project​, and in her teaching at VCFA. Cosier explains the power of art in activism, saying, “Art invites playfulness and a joyful approach to social justice work, which is important to maintaining momentum over the long haul.”

Working with Cosier inspired alumnx Lorien Leyden to use her time at VCFA to explore how art teachers make their classrooms inclusive for students who identify as LGBTQ+, recognizing art rooms as spaces in schools that may be uniquely inclusive. In response to teachers who reported a lack of resources and preparation, Leyden curated a set of LGBTQ+ resources and took on the role of Curriculum Chair for the ​National Art Education Association’s (NAEA) LGBTQ+ Interest Group​.

When William Estrada comes to VCFA as guest faculty, he shares his experience as a community artist who questions power structures of race, economy, and cultural access. In 2018 he brought the ice cream cart that he’s retrofitted as a ​Mobile Street Art Cart​ to Vermont and worked with MAADE students to help the public make silkscreen prints that posed questions about home and belonging.

Art educators like Cosier, Leyden, and Estrada show us that we can use art for social change and that change can start with imagination, collaboration, and a bit of screen printing ink.

For more information, visit vcfa.edu/programs/ma-in-art-design-education.





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