Organised as part of AAA’s twentieth anniversary, Life Lessons is a new series that enquires into models for education led by artists. We ask: What was the most influential lesson they learned in school? And how have they, in turn, passed on what they learned about forms of knowledge and care to their students or communities of learners?

Scheduled for spring 2020 to spring 2021, Life Lessons presents online and offline conversations and workshops with artists and art collectives who teach at universities, build educational programmes at arts organisations, and run their own schools. Each session addresses their unique teaching methods.

The fifth session invites Evelyna Liang and Anurupa Roy, two artists who have dedicated themselves to community art and education. Over the decades, they have worked with people in conflict zones and natural disasters, migrants and sex workers, as well as children and youth. In this session, Liang and Roy will discuss how they see art as a medium of expression that can transcend social norms, class, and gender to build connectivity and solidarity. They will also talk about the power of art to bring hope, empathy, and possibilities to transform people’s lives.

Evelyna Liang studied fine art at the University of British Columbia in the early 1970s and since then, she has spearheaded several community projects in Hong Kong and beyond. In the late 1980s, she initiated the Art in the Camp project, where she developed art activities with her students in Vietnamese detention camps in Hong Kong. In the early 1990s, she founded Art in Hospital to organise therapeutic arts projects for health workers, patients, and artists. In the early 2000s, she created Art for All, an organisation that uses art to empower communities, including ethnic minorities and migrant workers. She also trains social and community workers to employ art as part of community development.

Anurupa Roy received training in the art of puppetry from Dramatiska Institutet at the University of Stockholm, and in the Guaratelle tradition of glove puppetry from the Scuola Della Guarattelle in Naples. In 1998, she established Katkatha, a travelling puppet theatre company that performs at international and Indian puppet, performing arts, and theatre festivals. A major aspect of her work is using puppets for psycho-social interventions in conflict sites ranging from Kashmir, Sri Lanka, and Manipur, to juvenile remand homes. She has worked with youth and women across India, using puppets to create discussions around reproductive health and sexuality, the stigma around HIV/AIDS, gender discrimination, and violence.

This series is part of AAA’s ongoing research about the role of academic and alternative pedagogy in the development of modern and contemporary art in Asia and beyond.

Evelyna Liang is an artist, art educator, and community art facilitator based in Hong Kong. She is the founder of Art in the Camp, Art in Hospital, and Art for All—organisations that focus on art therapy and community building. Liang's works have been exhibited around Hong Kong and Asia, including Bandages for You: An Art Project at the Gwangju Biennial and Hong Kong Arts Centre in 2002, and To copy or to steal, or is it merely artwork? at the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards in 2009. She received her BA in fine art at the University of British Columbia, as well as MFA and DFA from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University.

Anurupa Roy is a puppeteer, puppet designer, and puppet theatre director based in New Delhi. She has directed numerous shows for children and adults, from the Ramayana and Mahabharata to Shakespearean comedy and the Humayun-Nama. With her theatre company Katkatha, she participated in numerous festivals across Europe, East Asia, and South Asia. She was a recipient of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar in Puppetry in 2006. She was previously a visiting faculty at the University of California Los Angeles and an artist-in-residence at Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council.

This event is part of the AAA Learning and Participation Programme, supported by the S. H. Ho Foundation Limited and C. K. and Kay Ho Foundation.

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