In 2010, I began a summer education practice in China, teaching visual arts for Alpha Partners Education’s Pegasus Model United Nations Program. The program emphasizes English language acquisition and communication skills; research and analytic thinking; and building cognitive skills through critical thinking and the arts.
Courses in visual arts, theater, and creative writing engage Pegasus students in the creative process. It challenges them to look, listen, feel, pretend, interpret, explain, question, and reflect. Demonstrating an understanding of self and ability to relate to multiple perspectives in a global context.
United Nations curriculum centers on core UN committee topics: Environment & Sustainable Development, International Law, World Health Policy, Economic & International Trade. The program culminates with a mini-Model UN Conference. HIV/AIDS awareness was a Pegasus-wide topic we threaded through the fabric of each course.
2013 brought Pegasus to the city of Chengdu, capital of the Szechuan Province, and to Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Each camp program was nine days long. In that short time it was amazing to see students grow and embrace ideas in Western teaching and learning methods. They worked collaboratively, moved around the classroom and campus, and contemplated open-ended questions.
In my visual arts course, we studied the artworks of Wassily Kandinsky and microscopic images of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), constructing complex thinking processes about art, design, and disease.
Students actively listened, responded, and made connections while interacting with each other’s ideas and building on each other’s interpretations. Students explored art elements – color, shape, movement, line, expression, emotion, meaning, and atmosphere – to create dynamic collages representing HIV attacking T-cells and corrupting DNA.
Each year Pegasus students collaboratively create works of art that are auctioned for charity at Yuanfen~Flow gallery in the 798 Art District. All proceeds benefited children in China affected by HIV & AIDS through the Chi-Heng Foundation.
This is my third year teaching with Community-Word Project. CWP supports teaching artists and classroom teachers to start where the learner is and push students to exercise their own potential for meaning-making and appreciation of the ideas, aesthetics, and concepts of artistic practice and creative writing.
I teach others to look closer at the world and discover their unique perspective to communicate ideas through light, color, and space.
Lisa M. Gutting, Artist, Educator