For decades I am working in art education. And I think I am rather good at it. Within the Dutch circumstances, I am convinced that I come up with original ideas and innovative projects. Yes, you are right, I am pretty arrogant. And I realize it.

When I got my invitation to attend the Vilnius conference, I had to think about my arrogance. I decided that the only way in which that meeting could contribute to my personal development was to leave my arrogance at home. And I can assure you, that’s not easy for me. My intention was to be as open as possible. Not to profile my (fantastic) views on art education, but to listen to others, hoping that after the conference I have to re-invent my views on art and education. I was hoping for an earthquake that would damage my arrogance without totally destroying my self-confidence.

Now I’m back in the Netherlands and I have to draw the conclusions. Did the conference succeed in reaching my personal goals? No, I don’t think so. Is it because my arrogance was still hiding in my suitcase? I am not sure…maybe.

The meeting started with Paul Collard. In his eloquent lecture he formulated his views on art education and the role of creativity in society. Although I would never have found the words the way he did, I almost totally agreed on what he said. He perfectly stated the things, which I felt (unconsciously) inside. That was not good beginning for my struggle against my arrogance.

In the corridors of the conference I talked to a lot of participants. What were these talks about? They were like this:

“Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “What is the situation in your country” “What is your contribution tot art education?” “Oh well… in my country…”

I found it very interesting to hear about all those different situations, to talk with a lot of practitioners. But did those conversations changed my views? No. In fact, often I had a hard time to keep listening and to restrain myself from the tendency to profile my projects and my fabulous views on art education.

I attended three fantastic workshops during the conference. I enjoyed all three of them, just because they were wonderful workshops. They gave me some new ideas about ways of doing things that I can use in the course I give at home. That’s fine, but that is not what I came for. Did the evaluations of the workshops shake the foundation on my convictions? No, they didn’t give me the discussions I hoped for.

And then at the end of the conference there was ‘open space’. Yes! I was in two groups with fierce discussions, open-minded, there was brainstorming together, I had to relate to other personal views, conclusions were drawn and provocative statements were made. I loved it. Because my mind had to accelerate on top speed, because I was forced to put my views on the table and to compare and relate them tot other views. My arrogance was shaking and I didn’t mind at all. This was what I came for. It was a pity that we only could put the questions and conclusions on paper and that there was no follow up; at least not during this conference.

In the airplane back home, I saw that little pocket in my suitcase, which I tried not to open in Lithuania. I opened it and yes, inside was still a lot of arrogance. In spite of all my efforts, I didn’t completely succeed in leaving it at home. But then I thought: “What would I do to make the next conference a success for arrogant people like me?” Because there came no answer in my mind, all of a sudden my arrogance shrank back in the suitcase and I felt humble.


Views: 77

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of ICEnet to add comments!

Join ICEnet

Comment by Greg Klerkx on May 27, 2013 at 15:14

That sounds like a great combination of activities. I also think that perhaps delivering a workshop, as I did, is a sure-fire way to take a risk: I know I was a bit nervous in advance, mainly because I'd not done that kind of workshop for a multi-national audience, let alone a multi-national audience of highly-experienced arts practitioners! So in terms of comfort-zone challenge, I'd highly recommend it :-)

Comment by Victor Frederik on May 27, 2013 at 7:42

I realize Greg, that my blog is rather provocative. In Vilnius I wanted to come out of my comfort-zone and I didn’t succeed completely. I don’t blame the conference. For the most part I blame myself: that I didn’t get more out of it.

And I agree that the conference also was a place where we “celebrated the power of arts”. 

Maybe in the next conference there should be a choice for the practitioners to follow workshops in order to share practice and for others 'open spaces' to have challenging discussions. You can do both or you can focus on one kind of exchange. It depends on what you personally want to get out of it (or want your personal style or learning is).


Comment by Greg Klerkx on May 26, 2013 at 22:19

Personally, I would have been happy to hear more of your fantastic ideas about arts education, and about your projects: that is partly what I came for, to hear about what others do elsewhere and to learn from that. I did learn quite a bit from the workshops I attended, so in that sense alone the conference was, for me, a success.

But ICEnet is much more, or at least I'd like it to be. I believe that the arts and creativity are often saving graces in an increasingly disconnected and callous world; they remind us of our shared humanity in the best possible ways. We all have our 'arrogance'...or rather, many of us are confident in what we do and why and how we do it. What we don't do enough, as practitioners, is to celebrate the power of the arts and creativity outside of our little bubbles of comfort, whether that means sharing practice or engaging in challenging conversations (personally, I was ready for much heartier political much to talk about!)

As an American living in the UK who delivers much of his practice abroad, crossing borders has opened up so much for me personally...there's been risk, but also reward. I want to learn, discuss, challenge, celebrate, and learn some more. We've started that; let's expand it, and take it further.


© 2022   Created by Radka Jágriková.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service