Daniel SanGiacomo

aka Daniel Aktas

Toolkit Response

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Daniel Aktas

Contemporary Art and Critical Pedagogy

Fall 2016


      I am a middle-class white male in the United States and my gender, race, and class affords me privileges. As an individual, I work to keep an awareness of the discrimination, microaggressions, stereotypes, isolation, and systemic systems of inequality that affect people because of their ability, skin color, gender, orientation, religion, and class. Keeping an understanding my own privilege in the world, I can work to point out and refute systems of inequality in my curriculum. I approach this by rejecting color blindness and acknowledging and opening discussions about race and privilege during class and incorporating narratives from individuals that disrupt accepted stereotypes.

My class may be the last art class a student will ever take.  Everything I say, present, and devote time to sends a message to students. More difficult to discern is the message made from the omission of information. Who makes art? Who can make art? What is art for? Who are real artists? Are all questions answered through the choices I make about what artists and art to show in my class room. The art I choose to devote time to in my classroom is rarely dead, white, European, and male because media, advertising, museums, and other art programs argue for the value of these artists. The art my class makes the case that important art is made by artists living today of all colors and genders.

I am a social justice art teacher and I teach art as a medium to challenge inequalities of our culture and the world. I work to achieve this goal by providing alternative narratives of individuals in my curriculum that counter normalized stock stories. I use a student-centered approach to facilitate art exploration, group discussion, and individual inquiry into themes of identity, race, and class.

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