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ART 299: Social and Cultural Explorations in the Visual Arts
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Tiara Dowling

Liberal Arts Major(s): Criminology, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part of my experience was the trip we took to Royal National Park. The walk along the cliffs and being near the beautiful coast line was refreshing after being in Sydney. Learning about the history of the park was interesting as well; our guides told us about the individuals who lived on the land years before. The carvings of spirits important to understanding the group of individuals who had lived there were still intact which was amazing. Our guides also introduced our group to creating art with ease and without the need to control how our art turns out. We did a drawing exercise consisting of drawing what was around us such as the trees, the water, and the insects. Additionally, we used what was around us to add color and detail to our drawing such as tracing leaves onto our drawings. Learning about the history of Royal National Park and being able to draw with ease was relaxing as well as informative.

Sharing information with the tour guides about the United States was the best part; it is amazing how much I learned from the tour guides about instances of injustices occurring in Sydney and in the United States.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Academically this experience was extremely beneficial to my majors in Women's Studies and Criminology. During the trip we learned about the displacement of first nation people and gentrification occurring in Sydney, Australia. The displacement of first nation people and gentrification occurring were particularly interesting to me because I learned about the same injustices being experienced by African Americans in my classes at Penn State. I feel as though being able to apply my knowledge to the experiences first nation people encounter in Sydney, Australia to the experiences of African Americans in the United States was eye-opening. Sharing information with the tour guides about the United States was the best part; it is amazing how much I learned from the tour guides about instances of injustices occurring in Sydney and in the United States.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

Throughout the tours and workshops we learned how art can be used to communicate different types of feelings to the observer. I want to work with youth within the juvenile legal system, and, after being on this trip, I feel art can be utilized as a tool of communication. Art crosses so many language barriers, and I learned so much about the cultural practices of first nation people through their artwork. In addition to learning about cultural practices, I also learned about the injustices being experienced by first nation people. Therefore, by using art as an communication tool in my career I believe I can effectively begin a trusting dialogue with the youth I aim to work with, and the youth can use the art to tell me about injustices they may have encountered.

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