Researchers from U-M and Brazil come together to share innovations, perspectives in the arts
For the first time since the pandemic, scholars from the University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project and School of Social Work and their Brazilian partners from the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro will gather this week at the a2ru 2022 National Conference.
The a2ru network aims to create a world in which universities explore, embed and integrate the arts in everyday practice utilizing “art-based research” to understand and articulate the subjectivity of human experience.
The ultimate goal of the art-based research conference is to advance the full range of arts- and design-integrative research, curricula and programs. In addition, it is an endeavor to broaden the creative practice to acknowledge, articulate and expand the vital role of higher education in our global society.
“It is an exciting moment to be able to meet these long-term partners,” said Ashley Lucas, professor of theatre and drama, art and design, and the Residential College.
“We’re constantly learning how to use the arts to engage with the communities that really matter to us. Now, we have to rebuild our programming, especially inside prisons. We couldn’t do anything in person for all these years and our work is all about contact.”
In nine years of partnership, this is the fourth time a group of Brazilian faculty and students have visited Michigan. During the conference, U-M and Brazilian researchers will present sessions discussing the successes and challenges of working with performance practices in challenging contexts.
Besides the conference, the Brazilian partners will also take theater classes, lead and attend workshops in local prisons and communities, and meet U-M scholars and students who work to expand the reach of theater beyond entertainment in nontraditional settings.
“This exchange program is very dear to the hearts of all of us because it reminds us that there are kindred spirits in another country doing the same kinds of things that we are,” Lucas said.