Where Lived Experiences Resides in Art Education: A Painting and Pedagogical Collaboration with Paula Nicho Cúmez
This paper explores my perspective as a U.S. educated painter who participated in a mentored studio experience with female Mayan Kaqchikel painter Paula Nicho Cúmez. I examine the philosophy and methods underlying artistic stu- dio practice and pedagogy that takes place in an informal learning context in which artwork is made in the home and surrounding community. My goal is to provide art studio faculty with insights into female Mayan epistemologies and teaching philosophies that may be applicable to feminist art studio pedagogy at the college level in the United States. The situated learning mentorship that I experienced and share in this collaborative painting study involves female Ma- yan pedagogical practices of consensus, fusion, elicitations, and evaluation of the painting process based on each artist’s ownership of personal and cultural narratives conveyed in her paintings. Through my experience of a nonhierar- chical mentorship between two female artist-teachers from different cultures, I suggest ways to revise studio pedagogy in U.S. post secondary institutions so that it becomes inclusive of students who learn best with connected knowing.
Besides the importance of collaborative learning, the context of the subject matter, and, in this case, the philosophical framework that sustains the painting tradition, can be effective as pedagogical tools. This means, for example, that a collaborative learning session on credit risk in the offices of a bank, guided by a bank analyst, can be more effective than teaching a traditional class in the classroom. A learning session on micro-lending in a branch of the Grameen Bank, guided by a loan officer, can also be more effective. Granted, transaction costs can also be high, but they might be worth it. Probably the most difficult task is to take students out of the comfort zone; but that is the idea.