Concordia University

Community Art Studio: Methods and Materials

Community Art Studio: Methods and Materials
CATS 631 / ARTE 398
Instructor: Dr. Janis Timm-Bottos
Department: Creative Arts Therapies

Please contact the department for registration

This experiential course is taught by associate professor, Dr. Janis Timm-Bottos (Creative Arts Therapies) in a welcoming community setting, La Ruche d'Art St-Henri, an arts-based third space fostering social inclusion and community building. The course, offered annually since 2011, attracts students across the university, including creative arts therapies, art education, studio arts, theater, music, philosophy, urban planning and anthropology. The course is cross-listed in order to welcome both graduate and undergraduate students, as well as community members who join the cohort as independent scholars.

Hands-on learning and art making are integral to every aspect of this course. In addition to connecting with community members within the studio in the post-industrial neighbourhood, students are also required to complete 15 hours of service learning within other grassroots or institutional settings that are part of the Art Hives Network. These urban art hives which share the strength-based, free and open access inherent to all Art Hives, they are also quite diverse: from social housing, to city parks, co-ops, seniors' residences, libraries, community missions, womens’ centres, schools and museums. In every setting, students practice the non-interventionist methods at the core of the Art Hives model of public practice art therapy: witnessing, arts-based humble inquiry, informal and horizontal skill sharing through ''Each-One-Teach-One'', as well as building studio relationships within each ''public homeplace'' (Belenky, 1996), as they learn about the ''ethics of discomfort'' (Foucault in Rabinow, 1994).

Firmly rooted in the Psychologies of Liberation (Watkins & Shulman, 2008), public practice art therapy as developed at Concordia University invites all students to begin to examine their own social location as it relates to privilege, power, and the oppressive forces of colonialism and gentrification at play in their communities. Throughout the course, students undertake important steps of a journey, deepening their understanding of these concepts and their personal relationship to them, through art making and the reflective practice of field notes. The course culminates with a public presentation of the students' final projects, attended by community members, academic partners, and funders.

The 2017 cohort was invited to reflect on the implications of colonialism by participating in the Art Hive's Community Listening Circles based on the book ''Unsettling the Settler Within'' (Regan, 2010) as well as in the Blanket Exercise ( The class then created artwork on the theme ''Reconcile'' and shared their personal stories around reconciliation during a public presentation as well as in the format of blog articles shared on the Art Hives website.

Belenky, M. F. (1996). Public homeplaces: Nurturing the development of people, families, and communities. In N. Goldberger, J. Tarule, B. Clinchy & M. Belenky (Eds.), Knowledge, difference and power: Essays inspired by women’s ways of knowing (pp. 393-430).  New York, NY: Basic Books.

Casanova, R. (1996). Each one, teach one. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press.

Rabinow, P. (Ed.). (1994). Essential works of Foucault, 1954–1984 (Vol. 1; R. Hurley and others, Trans.). New York, NY: The New Press.

Regan, P. (2010). Unsettling the settler within: Indian residential schools, truth telling, and reconciliation in Canada. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Watkins, M. & Shulman, H. (2008).  Toward psychologies of liberation. NY: Palgrave, Macmillan.


CATS 631 / ARTE 398  Course photos

art-hives-1 Each-One-Teach-One by student Sylvie St-Pierre, visiting from UQAT (MA in Art Therapy).
art-hives-3 Student Melissa Titze (BA in Theatre) presenting her ''Reconcile'' artwork to classmates and the public.
art-hives-5 Students engaged in collaborative artwork
art-hives-7 Student Christy Thompson (MA Creative Art Therapies) presenting her artwork to her classmates and the public.
art-hives-2 Students working on collaborative ''Reconcile'' artwork with participants from the Seniors' group at La Ruche d'Art St-Henri.
art-hives-4 Students taking a meditative walk through St-Henri
art-hives-6 Each-One-Teach-One by Erica Onofrio, MA Student in Creative Arts Therapies

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