Transcommunality and Transformative Learning

How do we begin to make connections between our own lives and choices with the lives of others around the world and with the world itself?  

Thinking about this question, I don’t have an easy or even well thought out answer to this question. Making connections does not always lead to change in thinking or how we view some one different from ourselves, but it is a great start. Connections always begins with communication and sometimes something as a simple hello can make the difference between fear and understanding. 

Choices and communication depends on first, ourselves, and then whomever we choose to communicate with on a daily basis. If we originally start out an angry person and seek out other people that are angry, you will continue to remain the same. If you seek out a different mind set from your own, you can begin to think about the choices you make on a daily basis. 

How do we begin to integrate consideration of these things into our everyday experience?

Thinking about integrating conversation, our lives, and choices we make influences education, I think about trying to be allies to students and parents as an educator. After watching The New Public, I saw a school that dealt with issues of communication among parents, students, and especially the staff, specifically how to discipline students and dealing with test scores and graduation. Once again as I am beginning my educational journey I don’t have many solutions. I do know that when all parties began to communicate with each other and making mistakes along the way.





Thoughts on reading – There’s something queer about this class.

“LGBT, I must first confess that I am have great discomfort when I learnt that I have to reflect and lead in the discussion on this topic.”

Shirley, I feel many people, and even those who identify as Queer have trouble talking about “queerness” in life and in the classroom. I feel like the discomfort may partially be from the discomfort other people have felt talking about this conversation. 

“In the reading, Olivia Gude shares ways teachers could develop the appreciation of ‘diversity’ (in this context relating to LGBT) in the art classroom. Professing her own bad choice of word i.e. ‘queer’ used in the reading, she highlighted the importance of freeing students from the limiting terminology of dominant, oppressive cultural practices.”- Shirley 

Gude does talk about this but I would disagree that the word choice is bad. I identify as queer, and I feel like it is a great blanket term for me because it allows an individual to choose and open identity. Wen we talk about LGBT as a term , many have felt excluded ( those that are gender non-conforming or do not identify as lesbian, bisexual, or gay.) Queer is now used in the same way gay was used as a blanket term for all individuals who identified as homosexual. Queer in some ways helps combats limiting terminology. 

“She offers many different strategies to effectively engage students in LGBT issues such as establishing a climate of safety and respect as a crucial foundation for introducing LGBT content into the curriculum, introducing students to queer artists as serious culture makers whose works builds on and responds to the history of modern and postmodern art and sharing stories about various creative communities that will help students to imagine a way of life where diverse people are accepted.”

I feel like a lot of emphasis is how we can include queer artists and their work into the classroom, and as you stated above, is a way to show respect without the identity over shadowing the work. Identity and work, in my opinion, should be side by side. When we talk about their work we include their queerness, and we begin to accept it more. 

While I agree with the goal and her strategies as relevant to what a ‘good’ art teacher should and can do, some of the strategies may be tough and complex when implementing in the classroom with diverse individuals, coupled with different expectations from schools and society…Not forgetting other possible hindrances arising from stakeholders such as parents. 

Ahh Dealing with parents is one of the most difficult part of talking about issues of sexuality. Parents can be the barrier between open conversation between students and teachers. Parents usually only want the best for their children and many teachers have not been trained or are even open to talking about sexuality in the classroom. IT will have to be a united front between teachers, parents, and students. Teachers have to prepared for backlash and not be afraid to talk to parents. Students should have agency in what they are learning and have a chance to speak about what they want to learn. 

I’m going to answer this question. 

Do all students need queer curriculum? This is a question raised by Gude in the reading.

I feel like imputing the queer curriculum is not the only answer. Imputing lessons about race, gender, sexuality, and other issues is a way to make it an open conversation and the focus does not have to be should we it will be when it will happen. Not force feeding the conversation, but having an open conversation. 
– Erica

Race, Gender and Art in Chicago:Midterm Recap


Link to Prezi Project:






October is Chicago Artist’s month, which is a city wide initiative to “discover the work of hundreds of artists through performances, exhibitions, open studios, tours and neighborhood art walks”1. I began to think about Chicago and its art scene. After attending an event in Uptown, there were many people from diverse backgrounds, but I still did not see many women of color in the space. Thinking back to many of the art events I have attended around Chicago, segregation seems to still be a part of the framework. This segregation does not seem to be based on hatred, but more on which neighborhood you go to.

Women of color (WOC) that are curators, jurors, and artists often work in communities with mostly other people of color. Even if a WOC artist is in a space that does or does not have other people of color in it, there is another separation: the ability to discuss both gender and race in their work. There are shows that discuss both aspects of this identity, but it is often not outside of the neighborhoods in which these artists are based. Through this paper I want to know: do female artist of color working in Chicago have similar experiences?  How does identifying as a woman and a person of color artist overlap in the creative process?

Chicago and the Neighborhood Effect

Some people never leave their neighborhood while others love to explore the city; but understanding neighborhoods is more than just knowing about people’s feelings towards them. Robert J. Sampson discusses this in his book Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect, “Neighborhoods are not merely settings in which individuals act out the dramas produced by autonomous and preset scripts, or empty vessels determined by ‘bigger’ external forces, but are important determinants of the quantity and quality of human behavior in their own right”( pg 22).2  Reading this quote I thought about WOC artists in Chicago and the places I saw their work and presence. Though there are organizations like The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago, Woman Made Gallery, and others across the city there is still a feeling of individual autonomy for singular WOC artists. I interviewed artist and sculptor Debra Hand and asked : Do you feel accepted as a woman of color and a practicing artist in Chicago? Debra answered:

“ No. Sometimes. It is a constant struggle to try to penetrate which have not been set up to include African American artists. It’s not so much that these systems are trying to exclude me, as it is that they were never built to include me in the first place.”

Hand, Debra. Personal interview 1 Oct. 2013.

Art and its history is one of segregation of race, gender, and class. Even though there are many WOC in art institutions, and individual WOC artists, there is still a fight against this larger system of discrimination in art.

Being a Chicago native when I visited art galleries on the upper South Side, areas like 35th, I saw artists of color, but only further North in the city. I assumed the further North I went the better my chances were to meet other artists.

“ I feel very conflicted about the city as a native and I didn’t really feel that [Chicago] was the art capital so I went to New York City to be in what I thought was the art world… As the economic turn around happens more people flock to Chicago because it’s more affordable.”

Davis Fegan, Angela. Personal Interview. 20 Sept, 2013.

Angela is originally from the Hyde Park area, left for New York, came back and is now a graduate student at Columbia. As we continued the interview, I wanted to know more about more about her experience in Chicago as a WOC and a practicing artist.Angela stated “I fight to carve out space for myself all the time. I rarely feel “accepted”. I struggle to be visible as a person of color and as a queer woman.”

Hearing Angela’s quote I thought about Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect, and the chapter that discusses interneighborhood migration.  In this chapter Sampson describes that interneigborhood migration is based on “ (1) spatial proximity, (2) differences in race and income composition, and (3) dissimilarity of the social and cultural climate” ( pg 310). Angela and many other artists that live in areas like the lower South Side, the West Side, or more disadvantaged areas of Chicago, seek to leave and begin a new artistic life; instead of trying to cultivate their own neighborhoods.

If an artist does choose to work an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, the artist, the organizations or populations they are working with may not have the chance to branch out and have access to funding, materials, or space to work on creative projects. Staying in a disadvantaged area may mean decreased spatial proximity to other artists or art organizations outside of that neighborhood, a lack of racial and income diversity of those working with or within in the organization and decreased ability to fund their own artistic projects.

As I continued my interviews, there was a feeling that WOC artist were outsiders in  pre-established artistic spaces like the Museum of Contemporary Art or the Art Institute of Chicago.

“ I was in a panel at the Art Institute a couple years ago about the invisible artist, and that was supposed to be artists of color. Well I had a Chicago Reader that had an article about an artist named Al Tyler who was exhibiting at Chicago State University, so I didn’t consider that invisible… I knew I was exhibiting in many places, and I knew other artists were exhibiting in many places so we weren’t invisible but the perception when you go to major institutions was that there are some artists [women and people of color] were still considered invisible.”

Owens, Joyce. Interview by Waubonsee Community College. 12 Sept. 2012. 3

Joyce who has worked on Chicago’s far South Side at Chicago State University, with the

Art Institute, and with Woman Made Gallery does not necessarily work solely on the

South Side of Chicago, but still deals with title of the “invisible artist” that women and

people of color artists often are placed with.


Intersectionality is described as “a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions ( racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.”4 One of the most important questions I asked in my interviews was about the intersection of race and gender for WOC artists and their work. All parts of identity influence an artists work, and how those personal identities interact add another layer to the meaning and direction of an artists work. For WOC artists it can become a balancing act and a choice between which identities they want to discuss, race or gender.  This is not to say that many WOC artists do not discuss both race and gender, but often dealing with reactions to works discussing both identities can be a difficult process. I asked both Debra and Angela the question: How does identifying as a woman and a person of color artist overlap in the creative process?  Debra responded, “I feel I can discuss them equally, but to discuss either immediately limits an artist’s audience.  There are people who immediately reject themed-based work that deals with either issue.” Angela responded, “I do not feel like I can equally discuss race and gender in life, but I don’t place them at odds with each other in my work. I talk about them in an intersectional way in my work, so I rarely make a choice between the two in my approach. It is more often that the viewer makes a choice between these two topics when viewing my work.” In both answers the struggle doesn’t seem to be the action of discussing both race and gender in their work, but often a viewers negative reactions to it.

To begin to talk about race and gender within work lends to the idea that you may alienate some viewers who don’t identify as a woman or a person of color, or both. The anger that some WOC artists feel is grounded in the fact that they are not invisible artists. White male artist have the freedom to choose whether or not to discuss their race or gender in their work, and their work may not be negatively affected by that choice. For WOC artists, that is not often a choice once they decide to discuss race and gender in their work.  Angela describes how she counteracts this with her work.

“I get into spaces based on my work and try to keep as much identifying information about myself out of it. I am not generally shown in women specific galleries or galleries specializing in artists of color either.”

Davis Fegan, Angela. Personal Interview. 20 Sept, 2013.

With this statement there is not rejection of her identity, but to be able to have her work be the focus, she opts to not disclose her gender or race.


In conclusion after interviewing Debra, Joyce, and Angela, I saw and underlying  message from each woman. Whether or not they chose to disclose their race and gender and discuss it in their work, there is still an underlying feeling of being excluded from the art scene in Chicago because of their personal identities. So what can be done to combat these feelings of exclusion? What can be done specifically here in Chicago? To answer this question I looked at many of the current projects the women I interviewed. Joyce is part of the group called Sapphire and Crystals, “collective of professional African American women artists in Chicago.”5

This past November Sapphire and Crystals had a show at Woman Made Gallery called “State of Race” which included work about “addressing various themes such as race and gender, limited palettes, and honoring their pasts”4. Though the show was about the experience of WOC artists and race, there was active conversation about race with non-WOC artists. Conversation like this provides an open forum to talk about similarities and differences in work, without the feeling of being the “invisible artist” in that space. Sapphire and Crystals has also worked with South Side Community Art Center, which is further south in the city than Woman Made. By working and exhibiting in various areas around Chicago, there is interaction within differing communities and a breaking down of segregation in Chicago’s art scene.

Angela is also working on current projects that deal with sexuality and feminist movements.

“Currently I am working on a series of handset wood type letter press broadsides. They will be printed under the name “lavender menace” which is a reference to the fight within the first wave of the feminist movement to include lesbians…The slogans I am coming up with mainly talk about how legal marriage is not the primary concern for most queers in their fight for liberation, survival or equal rights, but also I have a lot of feminist and anti racist slogans too.”

Davis Fegan, Angela. Personal Interview. 20 Sept, 2013.

Talking about the intersection of gender, race, and sexuality is the beginning of the process of seeing the multidimensionality of what it means to be a woman. This can also be used in the conversation of WOC artists. As Angela described marriage is not the only concern in the liberation of queer people, just as race or gender can’t be the only main concern when understanding the visibility of WOC artists.

We have to discuss race, gender, class, sexuality and all the aspects of personal identities that influence not only WOC artists, but all artists. When we look at issues like class in Chicago, we can see places like the Art Institute of Chicago and The Museum of Contemporary Art(MCA), are usually operated by privileged white males. Though there is an increase of women and WOC in institutions like this, the opinion is that it is still a place for artists and individuals with class privilege. In Chicago this means that people who are from economically disadvantaged areas may not have access to these spaces, and do not feel welcome in spaces like the Art Institute or MCA in the first place. When we begin to understand the impact of the intersection of identity for an artist, we can begin to see what improvements need to be made. Along with understanding identities, we must also understand identities are not solely what make up an artist. Debra Hand, who is currently sculpting a statue of Paul Laurence Dunbar for Dunbar park on the 31st  in Chicago,  gave me this advice when I asked her: If you had to give advice to an artist, what would you say?

Please don’t lose your creative self by trying to live p to someone else’s ideals of what art its. Create from your heart and soul. Your art is the one thing that is truly your own and only you can decide what is relevant for you to express.”

Hand, Debra. Personal interview 1 Oct. 2013.

Originally my paper was simply a chance to interview other WOC artists and know their stories. It soon became something more. For most of my life, I assumed that WOC artists were fighting to be visible not only as artists but as individuals. I realize in speaking with Angela, Debra, and Joyce that WOC artists are visible, making work, and challenging the assumptions of invisibility regularly. It is has never been of question if WOC artists are making work, but rather who is recognizing it?  WOC and other artists considered “invisible” are no longer waiting to be heard as artists. They are demanding it. By staying true to themselves, talking about their identities, and not being afraid to speaking out against the assumption that they are the “others” in art; WOC artists are claiming their space in art in Chicago and beyond.

Works Cited:

1. “Chicago Artist’s Month.”   City of Chicago , n.d.  Web 1.Oct 2013.  < http://>

2 .Sampson Robert, J. Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect University of Chicago Press. 2012. Book

3 “Intersectionality.”  Geekfeminism. n.d , Web. <> 1. Oct 2013

4  Owens, Joyce. Interview with Waubonsee Community College. Web. 12 Sept. 2012.

5. “Women Working in Clay” and “State of G/Race” by Sapphire and Crystals” Woman Made Gallery , Web 30 Nov, 2012 <;

Ayers: Slow, Active, Surprising and North : What is all this talk about Social Justice

Hi everyone. I am summarizing Ayers and North this week. I blended the readings and pointed out some of the quotes I found most interesting. I will have questions up later today, as I finish digesting the reading:

“The author concludes that singular approaches to education for social justice, as well as policy formation processes that exclude or marginalize the actors implicated in them, will not result in more just and equitable forms of education”( North, pg 1).

This conclusion eloquently describes what I feel about social justice and education.  Exclusion or marginalization of any group will not lead to more equality. I feel like that statement is obvious, but as we have been discussing each week in this class, exclusion in our society is not always spelled out or apparent. Many times when I hear talk about social justice, I still feel the sense of “othering” of the oppressed. Social justice education has positive elements,  but there is still a lot missing in the execution.

“From Center X’s mission alone, it becomes clear that social justice can and does encompass a wide range of educational objectives, procedures, and processes… These educators and researchers, many of whom are associated with multicultural education, democratic education, critical race theory, critical pedagogy, postmodernism ,feminisms (e.g.,feminist poststructuralism), (dis)ability studies, postcolonialism, and/or queer theory, promote “radical structuralism,” “democratic citizenship,”“antiracism,” “anti–‐imperialism,” and “antioppression,” to name just a few( North Pg 2).

As I read about Center X, I think back to Ayers and the idea of slow teaching. If Center X wants to tackle all these intense issues and educate people, it will take time, or as North says “ a critical examination of the current literature on social justice education can bring into relief the strengths and weaknesses of various educational approaches( pg 3).”

Ayers tells us of the story of the girls in summer school. I compared this story to North’s quote , “Given that the majority of U.S. residents believe that all students have an equal opportunity to achieve their dreams because of our formally free, fair, and nondiscriminatory society, it makes sense to  see those who do not succeed in school as responsible for their own demise (Tye,2000).”

To some in society, these girls are responsible for their own “demise”.  But instead of summer school being a punishment for their “demise”, they are shown poetry.  Having to be in summer school is not seen as the end of their opportunity, but as a chance to educate themselves in a way that may relate to their own personal experiences, without the ever present fear of failure.

“Caring relationships among the various actors involved in teaching and learning are also important because they provide the kind of mutual appreciation needed for self–‐affirmation(Noddings,1984).”

In this quote I see the correlation between caring relationships  and slow, active, surprising teaching methods, the process of using art, poetry, and self awareness of multiple identities in teaching to bring more a mutual appreciation into the classroom and beyond.

North also talks about the redistribution of material goods and affirmative action. North explains that although affirmative action seeks to even the playing field for the oppressed, it also relies on the differences , which goes against the idea of being equal. I began to think about experiences in my own life. Being given opportunities as a person of color, and feeling as if I was being “tolerated”, that I was lucky to even have any of the positive experiences I’ve had in my life. I have felt like many of my accomplishments were overshadowed by my race and gender, while some were strengthened by my differences. I then thought about this quote,

“Allying with other students and teachers who are broadly concerned with the ways multiple forms of oppression, such as institutional racism, poverty, and heterosexism, can make urban schools more effective and safe for all studentsp. 194” ( North page 6). This is where being an ally is so important.  Being an ally can help build confidence in students and communities, taking the time to talk about multiple parts of identity can help mend the hurt and frustration of dealing with oppression and the influence it has in education and life.

North also discusses the use of technology for “hegemony” over every aspect of peoples lives. Thought, hopes, dreams, and almost every part of life in the U.S is directly or indirectly influenced by the use of technology. Though this is true I think about what I mentioned last week in class, the use of these technologies to fight the hegemonic use of technology. Within the last year, I have seen many people use blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and a range of other websites to fight back and educate themselves and others.

The discussion of the “cult of efficiency” in education, which calls for better test scores and better grades, but often not much else. This “cult” can begin to be dismantled with the use of art in education as Ayers discussed. Ayers quotes Gwendolyn Brooks “art urges voyages”. Art wants you to question this “efficiency” based learning. Ayers states “ art isn’t about getting the right answers or even making things to the required effort… Rather poems, performances, and painting are investigations and processes” ( pg 46).  Students are often never given the chance to evaluate and process what and why they are learning the things they are. Once you learn it, you move on to the next topic, without learning the connections between the things previously discussed. When students stop questioning and reflecting, they don’t see the correlation between technology and oppression, or the fact that test scores could possibly dictate the outcome of their futures.


North talks about the fact that there is no easy solution with social justice education.

Here are some of the main points:

-No longer just “tolerating” groups of marginalized individuals.

– A deep understanding of the suffering of others.

-Paying attention to the way we treat people in society on a micro and macro level along with fighting all forms of oppression.

– More conversation between policy makers, scholars, and practitioners.

– Question and expand knowledge.

BIshop Readings : Review

Silvia states:

“Love is a radical and necessary tool for change. Love in this work is an open eye, humanizing one another, sleeves are rolled up, and there is a steadfast recognition that work is to be done. There is nothing romantic about this, but everything genuine, a responsibility to educate and be bound to mutual liberation.”

 I feel like this is a very powerful statement. Yesterday during discussion, I heard the anger,the sadness, and confusion from many people. You could hear the lack of love. Not from family or friends , but in dealing with the emotional affect personal identities. Thinking about personal identity, is an everyday process. We often are moving so fast, you can’t think about how to heal. So we need an ally in ourselves, people with similar identities, and differing identities.
Some questions were asked:
How can we make visible, examine, and heal?
Conversation, first. Realizing pain or misunderstanding. Then creating a plan of action. Small plans of actions. When we want to mend pain, people usually wanted a quick solution. For this, we should maybe start off small and build up.
What are some ways in which we can encourage creative learning that can overpower our habitual need to react and protect? As Silvia said in class, we are often looking to teach people, or use the power of being a teacher to educate  instead of trying to be on the same playing field. Teaching assumes that there may be only one way to explain your personal identity. Everyone has a personal  experience even if they have a similar identity.

White Privilege: unpacking the invisible knapsack

In Brendan’s response he states, “We are constantly reaffirmed as we see our image reflected in the dominant culture, positions of power, the mainstream media. As a white male we are constantly fed a stream of information and feedback that affirms ourselves as the author of history, the cultural norm and the position of authority”. 

Reading this I immediately thought of these quotes from White Privilege: unpacking the invisible knapsack, McIntosh talks about the different of underlying forms of white privilege
“5. When I am told about my national hertiage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.” (page 2). The power of privilege seems to be the affirmation of it. Along with not actively realizing a privilege and the affirmation of it, they would be no way to realize that you even have it to begin with. 

Brendan asked “What are some ways that you see white privilege engrained in our culture?” To answer that question I look at Privilege 18 listed by McIntosh, “18. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person of my race. ” 
For example, many of the jobs I have applied for, there have been white males in charge. The higher in the educational system you go, there are more white men than any other demographic. There are people of color in positions at many jobs, but they are not often the supervisor, C.E.O, or the person “the person in charge”. 
In some situations white males never have to think about race as factor in housing, finding a job, or many social situations. If you are applying for a job and you have a name that sounds “ too ethnic” you may not even receive a call back or second thought. Just the perception that the person is white, means they would be a better fit for a certain company.