By Luisa Múnera and Dejha Carrington
In these Kavanaugh hearings, the time and place we call high school is being used to characterize some kind of shared rite of passage. He said, “Senator, let me—let me take a step back and explain high school.”
So let’s take a step back and talk about high school: What needs to be unlearned? What are the systems and who are the people that influenced our education? How has this affected how we move in the world?
These are questions that the exhibition “Education as the Practice of Freedom”, curated by Jasmine Wahi
, seek to address with 20 artists from the National YoungArts Foundation. Informed by bell hooks’ book Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
, the activist, writer and educator had a vision of changing the way we think of pedagogy as something that could be freeing for all involved in the process. In her view, teachers and students alike need to self-actualize: both parties have to take the risk to first know themselves for a healthy exchange of information to happen.
hooks calls for educators to challenge the source of their formal training. Imagine a ripple effect of progressive, holistic learning—one where knowledge is not only in books, but is manifested in how we live in the real world. This real world experience is core to “understanding high school” because experience and understanding are not universal. When high school is framed as one absolute—a truth that everyone understands—it mutes the matrix of systems, doctrines, politics, institutions and personalities that shape how we receive information.
In “Education as the Practice of Freedom”, the exhibiting artists whose participation in YoungArts began as early as 1987, use critical reflection as a point of departure. Taking radically different approaches to discussing education as a practice of freedom versus a process of oppression, their work looks at the ways that learning can happen beyond the confines of a classroom. These artists are investigating the mechanics of learning and unlearning, and remixing what constitutes spaces and places where learning happens.
In a city that is as diverse as it is segregated, Miami is ripe for coming together and dismantling archaic structures that have been aimed to divide communities. But first, can we do the hard work of looking at ourselves in the mirror to identify our biases and how they have impacted our ways of being? This is the task. We must take a critical lens to reflect on the training that has influenced how identity and intersectionality show up in our every day.
“Education as the Practice of Freedom” opens on Tuesday, October 9 at 6 – 8 pm at the YoungArts Gallery, located at 2100 Biscayne Boulevard. RSVP at yaexhibition.eventbrite.com
. Click here for more information about the exhibition.
Luisa Múnera is the Exhibitions Manager and Dejha Carrington is Vice President of Communications at the National YoungArts Foundation.