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Culturelink review, no.38/November 2002 - contents - imprint - archive

International Conversations Through Art

The Thirty-First World Congress of the International Society for Education Through Art (InSEA)
New York, 19-24 August 2002

As the year two thousand and two began, very few people believed that the InSEA World Congress would be held in New York. Following the horrible terrorist attack on the World Trade Center (the envisaged venue of the InSEA congress), the organizers could hardly be expected to overcome the many obstacles and stage an event of such proportions. It should be remembered that InSEA has members in more than eighty countries on all the continents. It is the largest organization of its kind in the world, gathering art educators, gallery and museum educators, teacher educators, art theoreticians, and other people with similar interests. Thanks to the Congress Committee's firm commitment, the preparations were made on time and the Congress opened as scheduled. About 570 registered participants attended the Congress and 317 read their papers.

The Congress was designed to enable the participants from all parts of the world to exchange their experience and learn from one another through the presentation of new and less widely known ideas and practices. The intention was to start a dialogue about the future of art education. The Congress aimed at taking stock of the current position of art education, stimulating and promoting creative education through arts and crafts throughout the world, and facilitating mutual understanding through the visual language irrespective of the cultural, economic and other differences. The participants stressed the importance of international dialogue through art, whose need is greater now than ever before. The role of art education is crucial in this respect, as it helps to develop reason, emotions and senses to an equal measure. Following in the footsteps of the great theorist and InSEA founder Herbert Read, the participants concluded that 'the objective of art education is not the production of more artworks but the creation of better people and better society'. The same statement, expressed differently, was made by Maxine Greene, Professor Emeritus from Columbia University: 'Art cannot change the world, but it can change the people who change the world.'

The main topics of the Congress were re-Imagining Traditions, re-Thinking Aesthetics, re-Making Minds, re-Viewing Media and Meanings, re-Searching the Art of Inquiry.

Such ambitiously formulated thematic circles were given full justice in the lectures by distinguished theorists, members of InSEA, such as Dr. Judith Burton, Dr. Elliot Eisner, Dr. John Steers, Kenneth Maranz (Professor Emeritus), Diederick Schonau. The programme was further enriched by nine invited seminars staged by nine countries (out of the 37 countries represented at the Congress). Croatia was one of the nine seminar conveners. The Croatian seminar was entitled 'Re-Imagining Tradition: Matrices and Crossroads - Folk Art and Its Traditions in Croatian Ethnic Communities', and it was presented by a group of associates led by Professor Emil Robert Tanay. Independent papers were read at the Congress by Dr. Vera Turković (Processes of Integration and Disintegration in the European Arts) and Mirjana Tomašević Dančević (Art - Early Learning of English and Cultural Identity Awareness). An exhibition of pupils' work, entitled 'The City of Stone', was arranged by Professor Josip Roca.

Given the importance of the problems discussed and the fact that this first congress in the new millennium attempted to trace the future direction of education through art, the New York congress can justly be regarded as historic in the life of InSEA. This organization called on the world at large to reform education to reflect the challenges of the changing world and to transform art education to accommodate new developments in the arts. After a week-long congress, InSEA concluded that art should be given the place in education that it rightly claims.

On the last day, the Congress elected its executives for the next period: the new president of InSEA is Dr. Doug Boughton (USA) and the Vice-President is Professor Emil Robert Tanay (Croatia).

The Congress provided an opportunity to affirm once again that InSEA is a big family speaking the universal language of art, which can overcome all geographical, cultural and political differences.

It is with great pleasure and honour that we present here several papers from the Congress, including the lecture given by Dr. Elliot Eisner, the doyen of InSEA.

Vera Turković
President of the Croatian Council of InSEA


  • International Conversations Through Art
  • Artistry in Educational Research and Other "Soft" Considerations
    by Elliot W. Eisner
  • Collecting Researching, Presenting and Interpreting Material Culture Cross-Culturally
    by Betty Lou Williams
  • Processes of Integration and Disintegration in the European Arts
    by Vera Tuković
  • Look and Look Again - Images of Nature in Finnish Art
    by Kaija Kaitavouri
  • Art Education & New Media 2003