Practices that combine the positive power of human relationships with art making can serve to De(fence): “create, innovate, reshape spaces, opportunities, or works that engage people or (and) bring us and them from the margins to the center” (JSTAE, call for papers, volume 32). In this paper, we explore ideas, techniques, and strategies used to implement four collaborative art projects with teenage youth. These projects aim to create a safe and generative context within which collaborative art-making practice can put youth and their ideas at the center of the process. Projects include an exploration of school climate utilizing sculpture in an urban high school art class, an intensive personal journey for orphans in Bulgaria using photography and travel, storytelling, and sculpture with girls in a locked detention setting, and an international service learning project with high school students using printmaking and quilting to benefit earthquake survivors in Haiti. We argue that the interdisciplinary and collaborative practices utilized create rich opportunities for learning and growth.
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