P.L.A.C.E. Program


_Learning through


___Culture & the

____ Environment

Service & Relational Arts:

Introduction to Service-Learning

Service Learning Definitions

Relational Art: What is Relational Aesthetics and Relational Arts Practice?

Articles & Bibliography

Arts-based Service Learning

To the best of our knowledge, no university fine arts college is linking arts-based service learning with Relational Aesthetics. Three years ago the PLACE Program did an environmental scan of UNM’s sixteen peer universities as well as researched nationally recognized fine arts institutions and programs looking for examples of arts-based service learning, especially any linking to relational arts practice. In the transpiring three years, we have continued to seek such programs. The PLACE Program is interested in supporting a community effort to explore what these two approaches to art have in common; who is interested in exploring these issues and practices; how we can teach it; where we can do it; what is the significance and value of relational arts practice.

The PLACE Program already asserts that arts-based service learning belongs in the curriculum of fine higher education of a 21st Century public university. We think it is not only socially responsible to give fine arts students experiential and pre-professional learning opportunities in the service of our communities, we also think it has academic and research value to pursue new approaches to fine arts teaching and activity that is keeping with contemporary issues of identity, society, and technology.

Service Learning Definitions

Relational Art

Articles & Bibliography

The PLACE Program offers research and resources on arts-based service learning and relational arts practice to UNM’s College of Fine Arts and New Mexico communities. This service is aimed at promoting dialogue between faculty, students and community members about the role or fine arts higher education to develop opportunities that integrate fine arts learning experiences that directly engage and address community needs. The purpose of this dialogue is to explore responsive ways to prepare fine arts students for more diverse career pathways into relational arts practice that serve our communities creatively.

In addition to providing research and resouces toward promoting this dialogue, PLACE is also committed to developing opportunities that begin the practice of arts-based service learning and relational arts practice. This concurrent dialogue and practice are aimed at defining arts-based service learning (A-BSL) and relational aethetics (RA) as it relates to UNM’s College of Fine Arts and New Mexico communities. The PLACE Program doesn’t assert any one definition, methodology or pedogogy for these educational research areas. Rather, the PLACE Program advocates a collaborative mission between faculty, students and communities to develop a unique vision for A-BSL and RA that responds to New Mexico’s community cultures.

A Starting PLACE for Discussion:
What is Arts-Based Service-Learning (A-BSL)?

While there is ample research and critical literature on Service Learning pedagogy and methdology, there is very little literature that is focused specifically on “arts-based” service learning (A-BSL) and even less on A-BSL for fine arts higher education. This is an opportunity for the CFA to glean from the existing generic service learning (SL) research and begin to shape and embed an arts-based (A-B) foundation that could responds to our College and community needs as we push the A-BSL field on a national level. For a base-line conversation about Service Learning, the PLACE Program has researched and compiled references and resources from other universities and organizations that speak to SL pedagogy, methodology and practice.

The broadest definition for Service-Learning is a pedagogy that uses a variety of instructional methods and integrates community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking. From this most basic definition there are many critical approaches that reflect different discipline orientations, partnership collaborations, framed outcomes and, of course, the intangible— unpredictable experiences that occur as we engage communities beyond the classroom.

To review more basic definitions on SL pedagogy and methodology link to our “SL Focus” page. Click here.

Together, we think Arts-Based Service Learning and Relational Art are uniquely complimentary in their theory and approach to contextual meaning—to the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of people, places and situations. Both are unrestricted by any discipline of study or by the artificial barriers of institutions. Finally, both are highly flexible and adaptable frameworks to carry out interactive relationships.

The established models for fine arts higher education (emphasis on teaching history, theory and technique) and the persisting knock at the door for higher education reform seem, on the surface, to be competing. The PLACE Program proposes the theory and practice of Relational Aesthetics is the link between the established and the emerging approaches to fine arts higher education. They need not compete. Instead, we’re suggesting the complimentary nature between Relational Arts Practice and Arts-based Service Learning is an opportunity to integrate the educational paradigms of high art versus community art. The PLACE Program also proposes the merging of Relational Aesthetics with Arts-Based Service Learning is an academically viable and socially responsible means of engaging the College of Fine Arts and New Mexico communities in the common pursuit of celebrating our diverse expression of humanity.

We hope we have raised your sense of curiosity about Relational Art. Often times seeing—better yet, experiencing—is understanding. By way of explanation, we offer a brief introduction to Nicholas Bourriaud’s book entitled Relational Aesthetics accompanied by links to contemporary artists’ works that he characterizes as relational art. This is the fun part! (click here to Relational Aesthetics)

A PLACE for Building Further Discussion:
What is Relational Aesthetics and Relational Arts Practice?

Click here

Service & Relational Arts
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A PLACE for Building Further Discussion:
What is Relational Aesthetics and Relational Arts Practice?

Click here