In case of emergency, break convention: A case study of a Human Library project in an art gallery
Keywords:Adult education, Art Gallery, Portraiture, Human Library, Social Change
Against a backdrop of elitism and exclusion, many public art galleries are adopting educational processes aimed at tackling society’s pressing social and cultural problems. This paper shares the findings of case study of one such project, a Human Library (HL), hosted alongside a portraiture exhibition in an Art Gallery in British Columbia. Findings show how this ‘safe’ space of ‘discomfort’ illuminated stereotyping, bias, and ignorance and the subsequent transformation of perspectives around both people and art. It also provided a critical space of social reflection on the media and gender issues. Yet those who attended were predominantly middle and upper class and female and there was confusion around the link between the portraits, the mission of the Gallery and the HL. However, the Gallery can be seen as an intentional, critical space of adult education, playing a unique role in promoting social justice and change.
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