Interview with Gail Humphries Mardirosian and Yvonne Pelletier Lewis from Arts Integration in Education

Intellect caught up with Gail Humphries Mardirosian (GHM) and Yvonne Pelletier Lewis (YPL) of from Arts Integration in Education to find out more about the book and the inspiration behind it.

How would you describe the book in a few words?

YPL: Arts Integration in Education provides a diversity of perspectives on the changed and changing world in which today’s students are learning and the impact that integrating the arts into the process of education – at all levels – can have in response to those changes.

GHM: This book represents a convergence of voices from multiple viewpoints – from psychologists to researchers to practitioners – to present a resounding case for the value and importance of arts education and arts integration

Where do your own personal and academic research interests lie?

YPL: Research interests – both personal and academic – lie in continuing and expanding on the work reflected in this book, e.g University – and classroom- level training in arts-based methodologies; greater involvement of teaching artist in the classroom; and collaborations with arts organization.

GHM: Throughout three decades of work in higher education, I have remained committed to the importance of research that captures and demonstrates the importance and potency of the arts education experience. I intend to continue that research and to demonstrate its value to generate a better world and truly cultivate global citizens.

How do you think this book changes the way we can weave art into education?

YPL: The book provides practiced and practicing successful examples of both the “why” the “how” arts can be woven into education – as arts for arts sake, but also as arts integrated across disciplines. The theories compel the mind-set that is the critical foundation for the practice of arts integration. The book also provides evidence that arts-integrated methodologies can be practiced while adhering to the standards of learning imposed by the educational system. 

GHM: It provides concrete evidence of the value of the arts in education and in our lives. It is also a call to action for those of us directly involved in higher education to remain deeply convicted to the power and practice of the arts in education.

Where did you find the inspiration for your book?

YPL: The initial inspiration for this book is an arts-based teaching and learning model, imagination quest (IQ), developed by Gail Humphries-Mardirosian (and described in chapter 5 of this book). The model was used, over a period of 15 years, to train teachers and administrators in arts integration across the country. The success of this model, coupled with the growing national and international dialogue regarding the importance of maintaining the arts in our educational system, compelled us to move arts integration forward with this book.

GHM: This book is truly my life's work. I began working in arts education as a recent college graduate in inner city public schools in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Here I am years later, with a plethora of interactions in different environments-both rural and urban and both internationally and nationally-making the case for the experiences that I lived as a young professional.

What did you enjoy the most when editing this book?

YPL: The most enjoyable aspect of editing this book was experiencing the enthusiasm with which our contributors responded to being invited to be a part of this important work - to say nothing of the quality of the work they submitted.  

GHM: Interacting with exceptionally important colleagues in the field and knowing that our collective voice would have a resounding impact.

Do you have any future research projects or plans? 

GHM : I am currently working on two different projects for publication:

1.  A chapter in a book entitled the courage to fight violence against women.

This chapter investigates a performance project that I developed entitled traces in the wind.  It is a docudrama telling the stories of three women who survived the holocaust through the arts.  The research explores the possibilities for theatre to generate empathy, compassion and tell difficult stories that compel the audience to action. Audience surveys and interviews are part of the research.  The performance has been presented in different venues - an international conference of psychoanalysts, on a college campus, and with a private invitation audience.  

2.  A chapter in a book entitled creative leadership which explores the values and skillsets cultivated through theatre training in higher education that can articulate to leadership skills.

To find out more about the book and how to buy a copy please click here

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