Department of Art

Art Education patching gaps between generations in EMMA

Students of Art Education from Aalto getting experience in teaching via “Art Holiday” –museum project. The co-operation with EMMA goes on annually and develops every year.
Material for A rug of stories and memories
Material for the rugs of stories and memories

On Friday, February 25, 2022, there’s several adults and children gathered in the lobby of EMMA for an Art Holiday. They are about to get acquainted with Chiharu Shiota's Wire Installation and to participate in an art workshop. (Tracing Boundaries of Shiota was on display in EMMA from October 27, 2021, to November 27, 2022.) But first it’s time sit down in the circle. Teachers are placing on each hand a small variety of wire materials. Participants are asked to feel the materials with their eyes closed, followed by a reflection on what emotions the materials evoke. It is clear to children which material is happy and which is sad. However, not all materials remind everyone of the same feelings.

Feeling the material eyes closed
Feeling materials eyes closed

Next, the Art Holiday participants wonder around in the Shiota’s installation. The colour and the amount of thread is causing intense feelings. The doors of the installation are seemingly interesting. It all feels good, feels weird. Someone is pondering about blood vessels, another heart, and another love. Little later, in the workshop, a delicious variation of threads, beads and ribbons is set waiting on a large table. A rug of stories and memories will be a theme of the workshop. One of the children remembers that Grandma has a rug. Some make their rugs happy alone, others together. The little ones are happy to receive help in sledding. Already during the process, the works begin to tell their story, to remind you of summer memories, landscapes…

A door in the Tracing Boundaries of Chiharu Shiota
Door in the Tracing Boundaries -installation
making a rug of stories and memories
Making of the rug of stories and memories

The day’s program was designed by Art Education students Oona Ala-Honkola and Taru Mäkitalo. The Art Holiday is a collaborative project between Aalto Art Education and EMMA, which has continued annually and is constantly evolving. During the winter holiday week, in 2022, a total of four workshops were held. All but one of the workshops were sold out. Each day had its own theme, where one got to know the exhibitions and participated in a workshop. (Also, its notable that you only need to pay for a museum ticket to participate.)

The youngest of the participants may well be a baby and the oldest approaching a hundred.

Oona Ala-Honkala, Student of Art Education
a rug of stories and memories
A rug of stories and memories

The museum lecturer, Maria Vähäsarja coordinates the project with Aalto. Also, she has graduated from Art Education, Aalto in 2012. Vähäsarja states that the purpose of the Art Holiday concept is to enable and strengthen the interaction between adults and children, and to offer nice experiences through art. The concept provides important pedagogical challenges. “The youngest of the participants may well be a baby and the oldest approaching a hundred. Designing of the art workshops has challenged to think about participation and the levels and ways of involvement more broadly and inclusive”, says Oona Ala-Honkola.

Vähäsarja describes the collaboration with Aalto as revitalizing for museum pedagogy. In a search for their own way as teacher through the project, Art Education students bring with them fresh perspectives from the field of art education pedagogy to museum activities. Taru Mäkitalo praises the museum environment as a pleasant learning framework for gaining first experiences as an art educator. “I learned a lot about, for example, the special nature of children, working together and teaching other students. I already recognize my own strengths as an art educator. I recommend the course to all art ed students!” She declares.

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