Introduction to Community Arts

Because much of community based art making success is contingent upon community partner input, contributions and collaboration, the course begins with history, methodologies and approaches to community arts. As with any discipline, one course premise is to recognize contributions of past artists, organizers, and activists, and to understand historical context. Since the course is taught in the spring, students are asked to engage/attend events of Martin Luther King week of service at the top of the semester and to engage/attend specific events of New Orleans Mardi Gras. We will examine the threads that weave through the course historically and in contemporary context. We collectively set forth ground rules for the operation of the class and we capture students' goals for this class. One of the first classes focuses on the Story Circle Process (Junebug Productions, Inc.), actual experience of a story circle, and reflection on that process. The Story Circle Process is a foundation of the course, for in-class exercises and in-community research. We will examine case studies of projects, past and current, of New Orleans and beyond. One particular case study is the Home, New Orleans project, a project that gave birth to this class in post-Katrina New Orleans. Among other videos, students view and reflect on Appalshop's documentary titled, Stranger with a Camera, as we consider how to enter, build and exit communities.