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September 27, 2016

Reflecting on the Arts Integration Learning Lab: An Interview with Artist Colette Lisoway

ArtStarts Arts Integration Learning Lab

We're thrilled to bring the Arts Integration Learning Lab to Vancouver Island this November. If you're an artist living and working in BC's Vancouver Island and Coast region, be sure to check out this subsidized learning opportunity—and apply by September 30, 2016!

To give you an idea of what participants can look forward to, we wanted to check in some artists who have already taken part in one of these events, to find out what they learned and how they are applying their learning experience to their art practice. Artist Colette Lisoway participated in the Arts Integration Learning Lab that took place in Vancouver earlier this year.


Hi Colette! Can you tell us about your art practice?

I am a photo-based printmaker. I use a lot of screen printing, digital media and mixed media, largely with monoprints, based on personal narratives and relationships. My practice is very much a social practice, as a teaching and community artist.

Before the Arts Integration Learning Lab, what did you feel you lacked in your art practice that might enable your practice to work well in a school setting?

I've been wanting an experience like the Learning Lab for a long time. I felt comfortable enough within the classroom environment. I've always been collaborative and good with people. What I felt I needed was more knowledge about school culture, the language of education and the curriculum. Those were all very intimidating to me.

What was the most useful part of the Arts Integration Learning Lab for you?

A whole lot! It gave me things that I felt I was lacking. It also exposed me to so much more that I didn't have an awareness of. The area I was feeling the least confident in as a teaching artist was the curricular aspect. To have that experiential learning with everyone, I felt challenged in so many ways. It wasn't always comfortable, but that was really good. I think I needed to get pushed out of my comfort zone.

For example, I've been speaking to teachers about applying for an Artists in the Classroom grant. It's great to be able to speak to teachers about "Curricular Competencies" and "Big Ideas" and know what they are talking about. I can share in that language.

What've you been up to recently?

A lot of work, really. The school year ended and it was back-to-back residencies right up until the end of the school year.

I had a residency through ArtStarts' Artists in the Classroom grant. I was working with Grade 8-12 students in Collingwood School, using a wide range of disciplines. The students were working with personal narrative and mythology through textile-based mediums. I took full advantage of some of the Learning Lab activities—for example, we did the "object in the bag" exercise that we learned during the second day workshop of the Learning Lab. It's so fantastic!

I also did a workshop for Vancouver Coastal Health with vulnerable, at-risk youth. This summer, I was working with Burnaby Community Arts. I did a community "art in the park" with them. We were out in the community painting with the public, developing ideas and plans to paint storage bins.

How did the Arts Integration Learning Lab affect your art practice?

The Learning Lab has also helped me think about diversifying my art practice. I've started to explore sculpture. I've also started to incorporate performance elements into a project I'm doing with Clayton Heights Secondary. Growing up, I was always involved in theatre, but for some reason I hadn't thought about that possibility before. The opportunity to work with a diverse group of artists made it easy to see different kinds of processes and possibilities.


Now it's your turn!

Are you a professional artist interested in working with young people and educators in schools? Or do you already have some experience and want to enhance your skills?

The Arts Integration Learning Lab is a professional development experience for artists of all disciplines, designed to build their capacity and position them to work alongside educators in schools.

The cost for artists selected to participate in the Arts Integration Learning Lab will be subsidized and covers tuition, program materials and lunch. A subsidy for accommodation is also available. This opportunity is made possible through funding support from BC Arts Council and the Government of British Columbia's Creative Futures program.

This event offers a series of five practical, experiential learning workshops taking place in Nanaimo, from November 14 to 18, 2016. Professional artists living throughout BC's Vancouver Island and Coast region are invited to apply. This region includes all of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the Sunshine Coast to the Central Coast (from Gibsons north to Bella Coola).

Get a taste for what to expect: read about our most recent Arts Integration Learning Lab events on our blog.

Learn more and apply online by September 30, 2016 at

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