Self Care and Sustainable Artmaking will consider how teachers and students might work collaboratively to weave social and well-being contexts into competitive graduate landscapes often focussed on notions of success, criticality, and achievement.
The paper shares the development of an intensive teaching unit by the same name by visual artist and lecturer Dr Kate Just with graduate students in the Master of Contemporary Art Program at the Victorian College of the Arts. The intensive was developed in 2022 with a post-pandemic focus on care and community and sprung from Just’s own artwork SELF CARE ACTION SERIES, a series of hand knitted panels bearing texts relating to self-care actions that Just undertakes to sustain herself as a teacher, activist, and artist. The corresponding intensive program for students investigated the importance of considering self-care and sustainable practices when planning a future life as an artist.
This paper will present the model of collaborative discussion, dialogue, art making, curation and exhibition making between students and teacher to address challenges to personal and societal well-being. Students were given two key prompts: a poster by Sister Corita Kent, a feminist nun, printmaker, and political activist, which espouses a set of rules for making art and a quote by feminist writer Audre Lorde ‘Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’ Sharing discussion, discourse, collaborative making and readings, and then working together to formulate art and an exhibition in response, teacher and students explored the value, problems, and potential of creating spaces and experiences focussed on well-being.