Art Education Activism: Exploring Our Responsibility as Educators/Change Agents

The Art Education Department proposes to invite artist Roberto Lugo and art educator Mindi Rhoades to VCU for a series of lectures, conversations and workshops over the course of three days in February. The goal of this series is to illuminate ways in which Art Education can address and break open aspects of cultural identity – class, race, gender, and sexuality.

This series will be open to all School of the Arts students, as well as preK-12 teachers in the Richmond area, with whom our students work regularly.

Roberto Lugo is a potter, activist, culture-maker, rapper, poet, and educator. He grew up in Philadelphia in the 1980’s in a poor neighborhood ravaged by the crack epidemic. He learned ceramics at a community college at the age of 25. He eventually earned a B.F.A. from Kansas City Art Institute in 2012, and an M.F.A. from Penn State 2014. “My life’s story takes shape in the form of teapots, poetry, murals, rap, artist talks, and sheer acts of activism … Today my graffiti is defacing social inequality.”

He utilizes the aristocratic language of porcelain, traditional forms and ornament as his point of departure. Rob pulls widely from contemporary and historical figures: an urn features Erykah Badu and Sojourner Truth, a teapot joins Maya Angelou and Desmond Tutu. “My work and my life are really about bringing my culture and my background to places where they don’t necessarily belong.”

In addition to his own active studio practice, Roberto is especially invested in the transformative power and promise of Art Education.

Mindi Rhoades is an Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State University with a focus on using multimedia and interdisciplinary arts-based approaches to teaching, research, and activism. Dr. Rhoades’ past scholarship and research includes gender and 3D animation technology and digital video filmmaking and outreach with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) youth.

Mindi teaches courses in equity and diversity, arts and creative pedagogies, digital media and new literacies, urban education, and middle and early childhood education.

On Thursday, February 2, 2017 Roberto Lugo and Mindi Rhoades will discuss cultural diversity and the current state of public art education with VCU Art Education faculty, a much too infrequent opportunity for professional development. On Friday, Rob will hold a workshop (likely in ceramics) for School of the Arts students. Participation will be on a first come, first serve basis. Friday evening, Rob will give an artist’s talk followed by an onstage interview with Mindi. The talk will be open to all VCUarts students and faculty as well as local PreK-12 art teachers. Saturday, Rob and Mindi will hold a bias-impact workshop on campus for Richmond PreK-12 art teachers and Art Education students.

Inviting local teachers into this series not only impacts future VCUarts students who are currently in their classrooms, but also our current VCU students who work closely with these teachers in practicum and student teaching experiences. For this reason, we believe bringing Roberto Lugo and Mindi Rhoades to VCUarts has the potential to significantly impact the conversation around cultural diversity in Richmond for years to come.

Submitted by Art Education


November 3, 2016