Windows to Discover: A Socially Engaged Arts Project Addressing Isolation
Social isolation is an ongoing issue for those experiencing mental distress. This issue was the theme of the Windows to Discover project completed as part of an artist residency in Lille, France. This practice-based report reviews the social construction of social exclusion and the theory of socially engaged art and describes the project. A collaborative participation model was used for the process of the project. This meant that the artist facilitated the development of the work and shared with the participants the responsibility for developing its structure and contents. Mental health consumers and professionals participated in it over a period of three months. Focus groups and group readings were held, and then drawings, paintings and models were made. Construction and artwork making followed. The work was then shown at two separate community events. Five Art Psy newsletters enhanced engagement. Positive feedback was obtained, in particular improved self-esteem and group participation. However, some found the experience emotionally stressful. The project was a valuable learning experience for the artist and the participants. The positive aspect of social isolation was an unexpected observation. Drawing a larger audience into the project was difficult. Suggestions to improve this type of project are presented.
Social isolation is an ongoing issue for those experiencing mental distress. This issue was the theme of the Windows to Discover project completed as part of an artist residency in Lille, France.