Art Education and Culture in Youth centers in Helsinki and Montreal – Advocating for Informal learning accessibility

Read time: min

As a researcher, who worked with Youth in the community, I’m interested in the Art and Cultural purposes of Youth centers. In these social-engaged spaces based in communities, the purpose of my Master’s thesis is to evaluate how Art and Culture might take place in these Informal learning contexts. The locations studied are Montreal, my hometown, and my current hometown Helsinki.

To contextualise my research I have been studying Bourdieu’s notion of Symbolic violence, Youth Psychosocial development, Critical and Art Education for Youth in the community theories to create in-depth knowledge about this topic. I want to ask: What are the social and political discourses regarding the access to Art and Culture in Youth centers in Montreal and Helsinki? But furthermore, how these Youth centers’ curriculums respond to Youth’s needs with Art and Culture?

My Master’s thesis study investigates how access to Art and Culture curricula in Youth centers in Helsinki and Montreal can affect youth individual development and as a member of a community. The hypothesis is favourable discourses about access to Art and Culture from the individuals implied in these spaces but also sometimes misconceptions and misrecognitions from populations and institutions about their purposes and importance.

In my thesis, Ethnography (Visual and Autoethnography) including a comparative, narrative and critical perspective on this topic is planned to be used. Additionally, I will analyze observations and stories from interviews with individuals who work and used to work in and for Youth centers. This study is meant to create awareness regarding the access of Youth to Art and Cultural opportunities for their development, regardless of the intersectionalities of their background.

On the left you can see my on of the visual clarifications of my research. NoVA program has a strong emphasis on visuals so that is why visual design and visual clarifications are even one of the evaluation criteria of NoVA students’ Master’s thesis.

I chose to use comic art as a tool to contextualize my study to make it more accessible. I am interested in Comic Art for it use as a tool for learning and contextualisation in a ludic way.

How I learned about ethnography?

Photo: Eija Mäkivuoti

I studied one exchange semester in Konstfack University in spring 2019 with six other NoVA students from Aalto University and Aalborg University Copenhagen. We took a course Visual and Performative ethnography taught by NoVA teachers Anette Göthlund and Fredrik Lindstrand. It was a small and intimate study group of three local students and seven NoVA students. The course included weekly meetings with teachers and peer-students, individual tutoring and final project in the field. I chose to investigate Fryshuset Youth Center by using methods of Comic Art, Observation, self-recording and taking field notes. The course was 10 ETCS and divided into 2,5 months. 

I recommend studying ethnography for all who are interested in human behaviour, field research and investigating communities or cultures. Want to know more about ethnography? You can start reading from Performance Ethnography: Critical pedagogy and the politics in culture by Norman K. Denzin

Where I am now in my research process?

I am currently working with my research analysis. I am aiming to submit my Master’s thesis in the late spring 2020. Keep fingers crossed  I success to submit it on time!

Rear more about NoVA Master’s thesis in Aalto University.

Written by Flavie Messier-Jaques
NoVA Master Student from Aalto University

Art Education and Culture in Youth centers in Helsinki and Montreal – Advocating for Informal learning accessibility

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top