The development or expansion of an academic institution represents far more than just the construction of new educational facilities—it is an invaluable public investment that offers innumerable social and cultural benefits to its surrounding community. These projects are designed with much consideration as to how they can make a lasting impact locally, nationally and internationally through the creation of meaningful programs and initiatives, right from the very ground up.

For us at Farmboy Fine Arts, the art experience matters. We strive to ensure our work is meaningful and relevant in every project we work on. To ensure a successful art program for an educational institution, be it a university or a private academy, we always take as our starting point the question of what role art can play in advancing the institution’s mandate. This may be to nurture the leaders of tomorrow, to create an innovative and open society that contributes to a knowledge-based economy, or to position the institution as a vanguard of new ideas and developments within the broader international academic community.

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Groupe Scolaire Pasteur by R2K Architectes.

Some of the considerations we take into account are how an international-calibre, museum-quality artwork program can bring prestige to the institution and contribute to its legacy; create an identity that encourages a sense of community pride; activate shared spaces by encouraging interaction and dialogue amongst a diverse range of individuals who may have any variety of experience or exposure to art; and, apply the principles of education from a variety of curricular areas to stimulate reflection on what has been learned, how it has been learned, and what this learning means to the community.

Through our research, we’ve identified and aligned ourselves with the ‘arts integration’ approach to education, where learning is achieved through the arts. In this model, how things are being taught is just as important as what is being taught. That is, students, educators and community members are engaged in the learning process by being exposed to creative processes that connect art forms with other subject areas, and are given the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their understanding through the experience of art.

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Carl Bolle Elementary School by Die Baupiloten.

Conceptual art, for example, is art where the ideas involved in the artwork are as important as the traditional aesthetic or material concerns. This art making process is a highly imaginative activity where research, examination, perception, exploration, experimentation, development, creation, reflection, assessment, revision and sharing are all involved. By emphasizing and bringing exposure to contemporary art and the practices of conceptual artists, the community gains an opportunity to learn from the interdisciplinary connections between art and curriculum areas that arise through these artists’ creative processes.

Within the context of the teaching and learning environment, these artworks become sites that are experiential, evolving, collaborative, and reflective. They ask their audience to draw on prior knowledge and engage in interactive experiences. They build an environment that encourages risk taking and the exploration of possibilities. And, they arrange opportunities that nurture a social and cooperative learning community.

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“Letting Go” by Hot Tea at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

leslie-dan-faculty-of-pharmacy-at-the-university-of-torontoThe University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy by Foster and Partners with Angus Lighting.

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