Investigating Appalachia’s Highlander Folk School through Socially-Engaged Art
Artists Greg Pond (PI) from Sewanee, Harrell Fletcher (CI) from Portland State University, Molly Sherman (CI) from Texas State University, and Anna Craycroft (CI) from Yale will create a new inquiry-based art course that examines the sites, histories, and impacts of the Highlander Folk School. Students will work collaboratively with faculty and community members to present their research in the form of a group exhibition and publication that travels from the University Art Gallery in Sewanee to the Yale galleries in New Haven.
Project Alignment with the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies
This project will support the goals of the Southern Appalachian Studies program by utilizing experiential education methodologies to form new connections to local history and place. Students will take on active leadership roles in the conceptualization and production of a large-scale collaborative project in which they use art, design, and research skills to increase civic engagement and engage in meaningful dialogue.
As a team, we will bring together resources from a liberal arts institution in rural Appalachia (Sewanee), a research institution in urban New England (Yale), and diverse public universities in the Pacific Northwest (Portland State) and Central Texas (Texas State). It will include interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty, staff, community members, and students in Southern Appalachia through the development of a new academic course. The coursework will be inquiry-driven and place-based. Students will develop leadership skills by working collaboratively on a community-based art project. Their work will reach a wide audience by being presented in the form of a traveling exhibition and publication—generating an interdisciplinary exchange between faculty, students, and staff at Yale and Sewanee.
Our objective is to examine the pedagogical methods and social impacts of Highlander and curate, edit, and design our findings into a book and exhibition. These outcomes will showcase our collective research findings and generate dialogue related to the relationship between critical pedagogy and social histories, and highlight the relevancy of Highlander’s participatory approach to civic engagement in today’s political climate.
This project will impact students by providing them with the opportunity to develop and apply their artistic, collaborative, and research skills to a significant real-world project in the public sphere. Our work will encourage participants, partners, and audiences to be engaged citizens within their communities by taking part in the meaning and making of the collaborative project. The primary audience impacted by the project will consist of participating community members, faculty, and students. The secondary audience will include people who engage in the project by visiting the exhibitions at Sewanee and Yale and reading the publication.