Dr. Ching-Chiu Lin on Recognizing and Promoting the Social Value of Community Arts Education

September 16, 2022

Dr. Ching-Chiu Lin joined the Faculty of Education in July 2022 as an assistant professor in Arts Education. She received her PhD in Art Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States. Before joining the faculty, Ching served as Research Grant Facilitator for the Faculty of Education and for  Beedie School of Business. Before that, she was a Research Associate and a SSHRC postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia.

Ching has been actively engaged in scholarship since 2011, much of it funded by SSHRC. Her focus is community art education and new modes of learning and practice, particularly involving digital media. She highlights visual methods such as photovoice, graphic novels, participatory videos, and video case studies, all within the framework of arts-based educational research.

Exemplifying the impact of visuals and the importance of community outreach is Ching’s recent project funded by a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant, “Storied lives: An impact study of COVID-19 on seniors and their community support services,” for which she served as principal investigator. Working with immigrant seniors, Ching and her team created artwork and put together a public exhibition called “Letters to COVID.” This exhibition is, for Ching, “an artistic invitation to ponder the impact of the pandemic through the visuals.”

“The Transversality Hub: Towards a new mode of learning for community arts practice,” funded by an SSHRC Insight grant, investigates the role of community as a space of knowledge production and how the arts help to create such a space as an integral part of community. As principal investigator, Ching sees this project as a way to “provoke new understandings of community inquiry and examine its potential for stimulating sustained social change and innovation.” For Ching, the notion of community is “not just a place to enact curriculum; it is the curriculum itself – a practice in which community life, learning and learning activities, and educational aims intersect.”

Ching’s longstanding commitment to community arts education is reflected in her publications. Distinct themes in her work include connecting educators and community members through artistic inquiry, working with youth and immigrant seniors, and using new technologies in teaching and learning. A strong advocate for collaboration, Ching seeks to “recognize and promote the social value of participatory authorship,” which includes inviting graduate students as co-researchers and co-authors. Her journal articles and book chapters, many of them co-authored with colleagues or graduate students, evince a strong interest in the ways artistic processes and educational research intersect.

Art and art education can also traverse institutional, physical, and social boundaries that may otherwise constrict the scope of art-based research, practice, and community access. In that spirit, Ching offers a global view of art education as principal editor of the forthcoming collection Community Arts Education: Transversal Global Perspectives (Intellect). Showcasing the work of 55 authors from 16 countries, the book—the first such collection in the field—establishes a global discourse around local community engagement to seek an ecological, cartographical understanding of the entangled relations embedded in community arts education practice.

Last but by no means least, Ching brings to the faculty her passion for “the practice of creating and performing . . . central to the research process itself.” For her, the intersections of visual arts, education, and technology offer rich possibilities for expanding art education into new realms. As she puts it, “I believe such intersections can facilitate and provoke critical interfaces across pedagogical relationships.”