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Detail of a mixed-media haiku created by Benjamin at the Metamorffosis Festival, Bangor, UK.

Creative Connections with Rivers: A Toolkit for Learning and Collaboration

We are three people who draw on research and practice to create arts-based learning, engagement materials, and interventions with and for diverse audiences. We purposefully integrate and apply different artistic methods in non-artistic disciplines, such as ecology and environmental conservation, physics, climate science, and human health. We came to know each other and work together through a four-year project that was awarded to the lead author and focused on rivers in a fragmented world. Our project had local and global foci on rivers, and many of the activities, including those shared in this article, were designed with and for people in the United Kingdom but with a view that the ideas could be adapted and applied in other contexts.

The Twelve Jing Xiakou, a real scene, Taishan Shigandang. Image courtesy of Jiao Xingtao.

Professor Jiao Xingtao and The Yangdeng Art Cooperative Project

By Jiao Xingtao and Mary Modeen. The Yangdeng Art Cooperatives, with a cumulative total of more than 37 artists and students, worked each year in collaboration with local villagers in the small rural village of the same name as the river, Yangdeng, in a remote rural area of Tongzi County in Guizhou Province. Organized and led by Professor Jiao Xingtao, this project, over many years, was begun to “reconstruct the continuity between art and life” through an emphasis on “artistic negotiation.” As such, it constitutes a socially engaged art initiative, locating this remote rural village sited on a river as the experimental art locus for approaching an independent but profoundly collaborative working method…