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Pieces of Eight

ECU Art professors Alice Arnold, left, and Jan-Ru Wan pose in front of a display of work by Farmville, N.C. middle school students at the World Creativity Summit in Taiwan. (Contributed photo)

Arnold Enjoys Summer Art Adventure

By Christine Neff

Alice Arnold, professor of art education at East Carolina University, embarked on an artist’s adventure this summer.

On two occasions, she traveled to Asia to attend gatherings of art scholars from around the world. “It was fascinating. It was beautiful. It exposed me to so much that was so wonderful,” she said of the experience.

Arnold’s first stop was Taipei, Taiwan, where she attended the World Creativity Summit, hosted by the International Society for Education Through Art (InSEA). The summit promoted the collaboration of performance, visual and musical arts at an international level.

At the summit, Arnold, who presently serves as past-president of the U.S. Society for Education Through Art, delivered a talk on shifting notions of creativity in the United States.

She and 80 colleagues from 24 countries discussed such topics as the importance of art in the lives of children and the role of art in a globalizing world. In the evenings, they ate traditional Taiwanese food and were entertained by cultural performances.

What Arnold called “a fascinating experience” lasted a week. “After one short week of sharing meals, ideas and hopes we returned to our homes, enriched by our encounter and ready to move our agenda forward,” Arnold said.

Arnold’s agenda took her next to Osaka, Japan where she attended the 32nd InSEA World Congress. More than 500 people from 44 countries presented research at the event. Arnold edited more than 150 of the research proposals submitted by art educators from all over the world.

Attendees discussed topics such as media and children, museum education and dialogue within the world community of arts education. Each speech was simultaneously translated into English and other languages represented in the audience.

Arnold spoke on the issue of confronting violence through visual arts. She compared classical images of war – Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” for example – with contemporary images of violence in popular culture.

She enjoyed hearing how colleagues around the world deal with issues she faces in art education here. “That’s what I believe is so interesting about international, cross-cultural work,” she said. “You see your issue in a new light, an absolutely new light, that enlarges your view of it.”

For Arnold, the most memorable part of the trip took the form of the day-to-day interactions between her international colleagues and people she met in Taiwan and Japan.

“When I look back on my summer, I think about the kindness of so many people: the woman who helped me down the steps in Kyoto with my heavy suitcases, and the young man who helped me find lunch in Kagoshima,” she said. “I experienced a great level of generosity and giving from others.”

This page originally appeared in the Nov. 3, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at http://www.ecu.edu/news/poe/Arch.cfm.