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V.S. (Vanessa) Bakhuizen-van 't Hoogt, MA

PhD candidate
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Curious Hands in Educational Workshops. Teaching and learning making in the art academy.

This PhD project aims to research the potentially powerful effects (intellect, creativity, skills, material literacy, sustainable thinking, etc.) of ‘making something with your own hands’ by investigating the role of educational workshops in teaching and learning making. Learning process in the arts are often implicit and tacit, which means that they start from the need to make something and to subsequently learn through the making experience. Artistic making can be found throughout the entire art academy and especially in the workshops, which are particularly assigned to teach the students skills and competences in making. Therefore, the research focuses on the teaching and learning making in the workshops of art academies, in particular Minerva Art Academy. Because of the abovementioned benefits, making appears a highly desirable competence to teach to future generations who face societal and environmental challenges. Consequently, the need of this research for a detailed understanding and methodical inventory of how making is learned and taught, comes from the aspiration of the overarching NWO-project Curious Hands: Moving Making to the Core of Education to move making and its benefits from the fringes to the core of education. For more information visit the project website:

The research strives to answer the following main questions: How is making learned and taught in educational workshops and how can teaching and learning making be made explicit, including embodied processes and material knowledge? The first part of the project is a historical research into development of workshops in art academies. The research employs, parallel to historical groundwork, a mixed ethnographic approach, to research the material-human workflows in different workshops. While ethnographic studies into craft production, workplace studies and laboratory studies have thus far traced the production of particular artefacts or processes, Curious Hands studies the educational workshops to understand how to make and create as such. It studies how tacit knowledge is made explicit and how materials, movements, language, physical and social interaction, technology, emotions, spatial settings, sensory input (sound, smell, touch) all come together in teaching and learning to achieve not one particular outcome but to learn making in general. In order to research this rather complex simultaneity of action, dialogue and experience, Curious Hands combines participant observation, participant making, visual ethnography, and interviews. It is grounded in actor-network theory in order to understand how materials, objects, technologies and human beings form constellations pertinent to making.

Last modified:23 May 2024 9.47 p.m.