Jan van Boeckel teaches both within, and at the edges of, formal education systems. Additionally, he regularly facilitate ‘hands-on’ art courses and workshops.
As professor in art pedagogy at the Estonian Academy of Arts (EAA) in Tallinn, Jan regularly teaches courses in visual methodologies and visual culture studies, art education and sustainability, and qualitative research methods.
In the spring and autumn of 2017, he taught the intensive course Sustainability Education through Art and Design for EAA in the Arbavere Centre in Lahemaa National Park (Estonia). This course offered students an overview of current developments at the intersection of education and sustainability. The genesis of the concept of sustainability was discussed, as well as the move from “education for sustainability” to “sustainable education.” Recent transdisciplinary collaborations in the fields of ecology, art and design were taken up from a pedagogical perspective. The aim of the course was that students would be able to reflect on prevailing practices and discourses that foreground increasing sustainability through art & design. Further, they should have acquired a basic understanding of the concept of sustainability, both in a narrow and more holistic sense and articulate a critical stance on the misuse of the concept of sustainability, e.g. as part of corporate green-washing.
In 2016, Jan taught a similar intensive course, entitled Thinking through making, to art education students (see and read more here), and the course Ecopsychology in an age of climate fear to students at the Design department of EAA. As guest of the Centre for Environment and Development Studies (CEMUS, a student-initiated, transdisciplinary centre at Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Science), Jan van Boeckel presented lectures and workshops for students in the three courses: Life Philosophy and Modern Society; Values, Worldviews and Visions; and Sustainable Design. In May 2017, Jan taught there again. In 2016 he also partook in a week-long gathering in Comrie Croft, Scotland, as part of the Knowing From the Inside research project in Aberdeen, that aims to forge a new synthesis at the confluence of anthropology, art, architecture and design. The project culminated in another week-long event in May 2017 consisting of performances, lectures, and exhibitions (“The Unfinishing of Things”), in which Jan also participated.
In 2014 and 2015, Van Boeckel taught courses on research methodologies, academic writing, art pedagogy and design thinking at the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik. Previously, in 2013 to 2014, he taught ‘visual culture in education’ (bildpedagogik) at Gävle University College in Sweden. On a regular basis, Jan has been a visiting teacher at the art education department at Campus Notodden of the Høgskolen i Sørøst-Norge (University College of Southeast Norway). At Aalto University in Helsinki, Jan offered several courses on art and environmental education (2008-2010), and a special thematic course entitled An Ecology of Mind: Gregory Bateson and the Arts (2012).
At Schumacher College in the United Kingdom, Jan co-taught the course Children and Nature: Rediscovering a sense of wonder, with Richard Louv and Kathy Louv (2010), and Creating Nature: Art in the Landscape, with fellow eco-artists Lynne Hull and Susan Derges (2008). And at international Holma College for Integral Studies in Höör, Sweden, Jan was teacher of the weeklong course Sustainable living: What We Can Learn From Indigenous Peoples (2002).
Hands-on art courses
Jan van Boeckel regularly teaches wildpainting courses. The concept of ‘wildpainting’ means to allow oneself to paint in daring and rather uncommon ways and to immerse oneself in a natural environment while fully opening one’s senses.
The most recent course he taught was Summer light of Gotland in Sweden (July, 2017). The week-long course With art to the heart of nature (“Met kunst naar het hart van de natuur”) took place in the summer of 2015 in Chassepierre, Belgium, and was organised together with the Belgian environmental group Aardewerk. (Here is a review of the course by one of the participants in Dutch.)
Below, a selection of previous art courses:
- Wildpainting workshops in the Norwegian Jotunheimen mountains, at Gjendebu, 2017.
- Summer light of Gotland, on the Swedish island of Gotland in 2017.
- Painting in strong colours in the French Mediterranean, in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
- Metamorphoses of life forms (earth art) in Varberg, Sweden, 2013.
and in the Kennemerduinen, Netherlands, 2013.
- Wildpainting in Kandal, Norway, in 2008, 2009 and 2012.
- Wildpainting at Ockelbo, Sweden, 2012.
- Wilderness and blooming flowers at Engeløya Island, Norway, 2010.
Some evaluations by participants:
“I enjoyed Jan’s Wildpainting course in France and I have done some paintings after that home in Sweden. It seems that the way Jan used colour in your course was a very important aspect for me. I have done two paintings after the course where I followed Jan’s method and used a different colour in the background when I started painting. Somehow I feel less controlled and more playful when I paint in stronger colours, I can let go. I allow my ‘personal handwriting’ to grow, and the pictures develop to be much more expressive. I feel that I have finally found my own ‘language’ in how to paint.”
Susanne, Painting in strong colours, 2014
“Through this course, art became more a ‘part of me’. Through my creativity I can bring to expression what is going on inside of me. I am thankful for the loving and professional facilitation, for the many enriching themes which Jan introduced to us during this week. For me, it was a delightful, resourcing week in a splendid environment!”
Marleen, With art to the heart of nature, 2015
“What the week meant for me: both theory and practice encouraged me to open myself up to a refreshing and enriching way of perceiving the world around me and becoming aware of being in this world. Through the activities I felt part of nature outside of me and, at other moments, part of nature inside me. It was very meditative and soothing.”
Klaartje, With art to the heart of nature, 2015
“Connecting art and nature . . . to let go, to trust your feelings and to express them, through words and through images. To experience, and to undergo an experience. In one word: incredible.”
Frank, With art to the heart of nature, 2015
“A journey of discovery, to oneself and nature, together with others, in a beautiful framework.”
Sandra, With art to the heart of nature, 2015