Personal Statement and Study Plan
Akari 17th April 2017
My main reason for wishing to undertake the MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies of Contemporary Art at the National Taipei University of Education is to further strengthen my knowledge and experience in my undergraduate studies, community education and socially-engaged arts. After completing my studies, I would like to use my expertise to contribute to society by working alongside marginalized people, in order to raise their awareness of active citizenship and sustainable community development. I learned to see art education as a mirror that reflects people and society, as a mediation between individuals and society, and a compass that shows us both the origins of our existence, as well as our future path through life. This is why my areas of interest include both museum and heritage studies and arts and cultural studies; it is also why I commit myself to social justice and inclusion.
My professional and personal interest in community education is heavily influenced by my upbringing and academic history. Having gone through my secondary education in an international school, I enjoyed spending my adolescence with friends from various backgrounds, learning from each other about ourselves and how we live in a multicultural community. This positive experience and appreciation I gained for ethnic diversity led me to join exchange programmes, which were held in five foreign countries within Asia and Europe including National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan. I received the Japanese Ministry of Education Scholarship in 2014 and 2015 for these programmes. Through my continual effort, while studying art education in an international environment, I have been able to develop alternative and inclusive perspectives on art education to acquire intercultural communication skills. I regard these as essential qualities for conducting art education as an internationally aware practitioner in the global context.
In addition to my strong academic background on community education and socially-engaged arts, I have relevant experiences of internship and paid work both in Japan and Finland. While I did my practical training as an assistant director in three artists-in-residence, I co-operated with artists and curators to assist management of gallery education programs and arts projects. I also did internship at Chiba City Museum of Art where I worked in a team to build the contemporary art exhibition. Moreover, I did a voluntary work facilitating arts and craft workshops for girls in Save the Children and the NGO for women’s rights. After all my training in diverse community settings, I completed professional qualifications both as a community education supervisor and a museum educator. This experience enhanced not only my practical skill in applying theory for planning, conducting and evaluating museum education programmes, but more importantly, it strengthened my confidence in team work, and gave me a deep insight into the effects that art museums could have on each individual’s life and for society as a whole.
Based on my academic and professional background, I am especially interested in the art education to engage with the marginalized communities, particularly the ethnic minority groups for the purpose of radical personal and social change. While I worked at the artist-in-residence, (name), located in ‘Brazilian town’ where roughly 2000 Brazilian-Japanese people live, I found they were facing severe racial discrimination, which shocked and frustrated me, as a person who stands against racism and oppression. One of my tasks was supporting the community-based arts project (name). The project shed light on the racial segregation and created a bond between the participants, both Brazilian-Japanese and Japanese students while the artist (name) educated them in arts to strengthen equality and democracy in the community. I see this artistic practice with special emphasis on education as a field for political, social and educational participation. In my undergraduate dissertation, I critically analysed this project and wrote my criticism based on Pedagogy of the Oppressed devoted by Paulo Freire and personal interview surveys with the participants and artist. Employing educational, artistic and sociological perspectives in my criticism enabled me to improve my interdisciplinary analytical skills, which will be beneficial to work further on community-engaged arts criticism and treating arts in education in Taiwan.
At this point, I see the theme of my dissertation would be the integration of critical pedagogy in community arts practice with the aim to strengthen equality and democratic society. I am thinking of continuing my evaluation on socially-engaged arts projects on the basis of interpersonal relations that they represent and build, and their impact on individuals and society. More specifically, I would like to find out how art education in the framework of arts can give participants the viewpoint of cultural diversity and tolerant attitude towards coexistence in this global era with a great challenge of transnationalism and multi-cultural societies. As the practical placement, I would like to build an inclusive and democratic space where diverse people, including those who are on the side of the oppressed and face the invisible barrier to access formal education, actively participate in the process of arts creation, which hopefully led them join in society as an active and critical citizenship.
Taiwan, with an interesting history in art and education, is the ideal place for me to delve into my specialty. Personally, and most importantly, I have special attachment to Taiwan, which attracts me to study contemporary art in Taiwan specifically. During one month of my studies in National Cheng Kung University in summer 2015, I took lectures of art and cultural studies, and the professor introduced us Taiwanese art and took us to cultural institutions including Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts and The Pier-2 Art Centre. I saw some socially engaged arts that emerged from the political state of Taiwan and controversy surrounding the relationship with the mainland of China and the modern history with Japan, which was interesting and thought-provoking. I desire to explore and learn more about Taiwanese socially-engaged art under Professor (name). National Taipei University of Education is a world-class research institution, and there are leading experts with vast experience in education and art ranging from various areas. During my MA degree, I hope to develop the theoretical understanding of Taiwanese contemporary art and museum studies throughout the courses. In my opinion, the best class for me would be ‘Public Sphere and Art Intervention’, which is well-suited to my interest in applying and demonstrating art education theory and practice creatively to engage the diverse groups of people in a variety of community in social and political contexts. Practicing art education in a museum in Taiwan is also prominent in my academic and professional goals. Therefore, I am also fascinated by the opportunity to do practical training where I would like to demonstrate teaching strategy for acquiring the employability skill contextualizing, creating and critiquing educational programmes in a contemporary art museum in Taiwan. Developing my critical writing skills in community arts from the perspective of education will also feature prominently in my academic and professional goals.
I am confident that joining this course is the best option to gain the key attributes that will absolutely support me in achieving my ultimate goal: realizing the social integration through art education. In terms of a future career, I see myself working as a responsive, creative, collaborative and socially-engaged art educator in cultural institutions in Taiwan and globally, and possibly publishing community arts criticism. For a favorable start to my career in this field, I am determined to commit myself to studying and practicing at the MA program. I believe my fierce passion, ambition, and interest in this area makes me a very strong candidate for the MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies of Contemporary Art at the National Taipei University of Education.