NOTE: This is the latest in a series of Q&A stories featuring Brock University faculty members who are integrating the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games into their research projects. For more information on Brock’s academic activities around the Games, visit brocku.ca/canada-games
Peter Vietgen is an Associate Professor of Visual Arts Education in the Teacher Education Program of Brock’s Department of Educational Studies in the Faculty of Education. His research interests are varied and include teacher education and the arts; museum/gallery education and school partnerships; social justice and equity issues and the arts; Indigenous education and the arts; makerspaces; and art education in schools and non-school environments.
Vietgen is one of 11 Brock researchers and scholars who received funding under the 2020-21 round of the VPR Canada Games Grant program. Here, he discusses his research project titled “PARTicipation Niagara 2022: A Celebration of Sports & Art through the Eyes of Niagara’s Young Artists.”
Please give a brief overview of your research project.
“PARTicipation Niagara 2022: A Celebration of Sports & Art through the Eyes of Niagara’s Young Artists” is a community art project that will engage eight Brock Faculty of Education students in hands-on teaching and leadership experiences in schools and education sites across the Niagara region. Working with classroom teachers and their students, Brock students will co-ordinate and lead art workshops on the theme of “Art and Sports” at eight elementary and secondary schools in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Grimsby, Fort Erie, Welland and Thorold. Also involved in this project will be Indigenous youth from the Soaring Eagles Alternative Secondary Program at the Niagara Catholic District School Board as well as students in the Courage to Soar Program, which is offered at the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre in partnership with Fort Erie Secondary School and the District School Board of Niagara.
What do you expect will be the outcome of your research?
The outcome of this community art project will be for Brock Education students to gain practical knowledge and teaching experience while building community through the vehicle of artmaking. This project will aid in bridging the gap between theory and practice for the participating Brock Faculty of Education candidates as well as building community amongst the citizens of Niagara region as we establish a new normal in community gatherings after the isolation endured during the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How will this contribute to knowledge or understanding of the Canada Summer Games?
Through the practice of artmaking around the theme of “Art and Sports,” students in elementary and secondary schools across the Niagara region will have the opportunity to learn about the importance of such events for the athletes involved and will gain an understanding of the complexities in organizing and presenting such an event. Approaching the Games through a lens of artmaking, students will be able to share their creative ideas around sports and nationalism with the Canada 2022 Games coming to their own backyard.
How did you become interested in this research?
As a former Arts Consultant with the Toronto District School Board, and in much of my research at Brock in art education and community practice, I have seen how public art projects such as this can help build bridges between schools and their local communities and how the power of art can create agency and a voice for our young people at a time when we need to hear their ideas and opinions more than ever.
How do you plan on sharing your research?
Dissemination and sharing artworks created by students will occur during art exhibitions to be held in various venues across Niagara. Confirmed exhibition sites include the St. Catharines and Niagara Falls Public Libraries, the Grimsby Public Art Gallery, the Niagara Regional Native Centre and the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre. These art exhibitions will allow the public to view and engage with students’ artworks in July and August, including during the 2022 Canada Summer Games. Once the exhibitions are dismantled at the end of the summer, presentations of this community art project will be shared with colleagues in the field of art education at academic conferences nationally and internationally.
Do you have any advice or tips on how colleagues in your Faculty can incorporate the Canada Games into their research?
Working in the Faculty of Education, many of my colleagues already have close ties with our local schools and the teachers and students there. As a leader in teacher education in Ontario, we take pride in our teacher education graduates and the impact they will have on their future students. With the Canada Games coming to the Niagara region this summer, I encourage my colleagues to view the Games through their own curriculum disciplines and to help build those bridges that will further strengthen our relationships with our local school boards, resulting in stronger and healthier communities for all.