National Art Education Association Women's Caucus

Laura Reeder

Earth, 150×50 meters (approx.), 2017

This “cultivator” practice encourages people from different origins and abilities to engage in walking/moving independently or together. It has brought people from high-poverty & high-wealth communities together: immigrants and citizens, young and old, human and animal. The cultivated expanses of earth with paths for walking encourages collaboration among strangers. They discuss what the walk means to them, race through obstacles, or push themselves in problem-solving to a goal. The practice began when I was an early childhood teacher. With children, we would draft mazes and games on paper and playgrounds. Worlds emerged, narratives for being lost and found, challenges for endurance and survival, treasures discovered. Adults joined, and paths became metaphors for life issues or meditation on untangling struggles. Cicero represented the Latin agricultural cultura from care of earth to a social idea about collective achievements of people. My cultivators align more closely with Arendt’s social relationships between between “labor, work, and action” (1958) as praxis. My research in cultivators also mirrors Freire’s theory of praxis as “reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed” (1970).

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