Studio as a dance together
Sylvia Kind, atelierista
School of Education and Childhood Studies, Capilano University

A studio, as conceptualized through the work at the Capilano University Children’s Centre and ECCE department in relation to various artists and Reggio Emilia inspirations and approaches, is a place of experimental interplay (Kind, in press). While materials, beauty, and aesthetics matter, the studio is not intended to be an art room, art area, exhibit, showcase, or artistic installation. A studio is an idea, an event, an experience, a working with and working through ideas, materials, places, spaces, and others. It becomes a studio in its use and through relational experimentation (see also Kind, 2013). We have imagined the studio as a space of collective inquiry that affords both children and educators time to dwell with materials, linger in artistic processes, and work together on particular ideas and propositions. Individual ideas and interests and the singularity of each child and individual are certainly valued, yet it is the collective and collaborative which we want to nurture, creating a relational space of investigating and creating together; constructing, making, and composing understandings. Thus, the studio is not conceptualized as a container for creative acts and materials, but an emergent space itself inherently creative and creating and constantly becoming (Kind, in press; Pacini-Ketchabaw, Kind, & Kocher, 2017). It is a space in movement.

At its heart, the studio has been characterized by collective experimentation and inventions, play-full engagements, and an attunement generated through sustained and learned attention. By this we mean that sensitivity to children’s processes and to movements and encounters with materials is not something immediately attained. It is cultivated over time. Creating a collective practice also takes time as we, educators and atelierista, learn to move with children’s movements and approaches and enter a dance together (see also Kind & Lee, 2017). We think of the studio as a space of encounters and negotiations, and connect to Bourriaud’s (2002) concept of relational aesthetics and art as encounter. This prompts us to consider that meaning is not held within a work of art, in the artist’s intention or idea, or in the materials used, or in the spaces created, but in the active exchange and co-construction of meaning (see also Kind & Argent, 2017). Thus, entering into a work of art, or an artistic space such as the studio, requires active engagement as meanings are constituted in the relation between things, in moments of disruption of previously held ideas, taking shape in social, relational, and interactive spaces (Kind, 2010). The studio takes shape as a work of art might. It is thinking in action.

We also borrow from Reggio Emilia their use of provocation and understand provocation as an intentional act of setting certain things in motion. Provocation is derived from the Latin, provocare, meaning to call forth, challenge, incite or instigate. Thus, we understand it as an action and are particularly interested in provocation as a call and response, or the continuous calling and responding so ideas and inspirations are kept in movement. For instance, we have been incited by others’ artistic practices and various artists’ studios, William Kentridge’s conceptualization of his studio, Room 13 in Fort William, Scotland, the atelier in Reggio Emilia, the impermanence of Andy Goldsworthy’s art, the collaborative and material inquiry inherent in Sharon Kallis’ processes, Kimsooja’s engagement with the everyday, Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s visitor-animated interactive kinectic sculptural work, and Jim Dine’s wall drawings, to name a few. Not engaging with these through acts of copying or application, rather being incited and provoked to engage in continuous experimentation (Pacini-Ketchabaw, Kind, & Kocher, 2017).

In engaging in this space, you are invited to take part in the studio’s evolution, to keep ideas in movement, while taking up a continuous provocation as reverberation and echoing. The invitation is to responsively engage with others and their processes, with the ideas, materials, and propositions within the space, as we engage in a dance together.


References (and sources for further reading on the studio and studio processes)

Bourriaud, N. (2002). Relational aesthetics (S. Pleasance & F. Woods with M. Copeland, Trans.). Paris: Les Presse Du Reel. (Original work published 1998)

Kind, S. (in press). Collective improvisations: The emergence of the early childhood studio as an event-full place. In Christine Thompson and Christopher Schulte (Eds.), Communities of practice: Art, play, and aesthetics in early childhood. New York: Springer Publishing.

Kind, S. (2013), Lively entanglements: The doings, movements, and enactments of photography. Global Studies of Childhood 3(4). 427-441.

Kind, S. (2010). Art encounters: Movements in the visual arts and early childhood education. In Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw (Ed), Flows, rhythms, and intensities of early childhood education curriculum, pp. 95-109. Rethinking Childhood series, New York: Peter Lang.

Kind, S. & Argent, A. (2017). Using video in pedagogical documentation: Interpretive and poetic possibilities. In Alma Fleet, Catherine Patterson, & Janet Robertson (Eds.), Pedagogical documentation in early years practice: Seeing through multiple perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Kind, S. & Lee, C. (2017). Moon bear and the night butterfly: Exploring the pathways of children’s drawing stories. In Marni Binder and Sylvia Kind (Eds) Drawing as Language: Celebrating the work of Bob Steele. Netherlands: Sense Publishers

Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Kind, S. & Kocher, L. (2017). Encounters with materials in early education. New York: Routledge