Since its establishment in 1992, Taiwan Art Gallery Association (Hereinafter TAGA) has taken “elevating the level of art, promoting art education, and improving the general public’s ability to appreciate art” as its main task. Moreover, the prestigious ART TAIPEI organized by TAGA, with hundreds of art galleries, local or abroad, that exhibit every year, is actually full of the best international art education resources. Nevertheless, there has been no major actions for integration and application of such resources for more than 20 years. It was until 2016, when Secretary-General Wenmei Yiu, who has been teaching in colleges and universities for years, took office. Knowing that ART TAIPEI was rich in art education resources, she decided to share this gold mine of art education with students in campus in a drastic measure. “Art Education Day” was hence established, which received strong support from past and present chairpersons, Ministry of Education and all walks of life!

Since 2016, TAGA began to establish the “Art Education Day” at the 23rd ART TAIPEI, and it has gradually become an important art education promotion platform for ART TAIPEI. Even confronting the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the total number of visitors to the “Art Education Day” was still a record high despite the reduced scale of the ART TAIPEI exhibition area and the limited number of people. According to statistics, the total number of visitors to the “Art Education Day” from the establishment in 2016 to 2020 has been increasing year by year. From 370 visitors in the first year to 1,061 in the fifth year, it has nearly tripled in the past five years. Moreover, it has become increasingly mature in both form and scale. Wenmei Yiu, the Secretary-General of TAGA, is the major promoter behind the “Art Education Day”. She talked about “Art Education Day” with her eyes glittering. She has been concerned about education for decades, and she also taught at various universities and colleges in the past. After switching her career to the art industry, she combined her care for education with art. ‘Art Education’ should be sown early on the ART TAIPEI platform. Although we will not know when the seeds will sprout after being sprinkled, they will never sprout if we do nothing.”

ART TAIPEI sows new shoots of art education. The photo shows that visiting students focused on an artwork on the first Art Education Day in 2016.

ART TAIPEI sows new shoots of art education. The photo shows that visiting students focused on an artwork on the first Art Education Day in 2016.

The Secretary-General of TAGA, Wenmei Yiu recalled, “The first Art Education Day was actually only a pilot stage. A lot of aspects were not ready yet; nevertheless, the first year was the most touching one. Many aboriginal children living in remote rural areas, such as students from Aohua Elementary School of Yilan County, came all the way from the high mountains just after dawn, changed trains, and then took a coach to the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1. Their journey was tiring and they got exhausted during the long ride. Still, when the children came here for the first time, they were very excited to see the artworks with their big-round eyes widened. The principal who led the team acclaimed thankfully that it was almost impossible for teachers and students in the school to have this opportunity to visit an international exhibition. Yet, this is the very reason that ART TAIPEI is committed to creating maximum value with minimal resources. Art promotion and education are one of the tasks of TAGA. The unique characteristics of “Art Education” create differentiated value for ART TAIPEI.

In 2016, students of Aohua Elementary School of Yilan County visited Art Education Day. Their focused expressions when they indulged themselves in appreciating the artworks.

In 2016, students of Aohua Elementary School of Yilan County visited Art Education Day. Their focused expressions when they indulged themselves in appreciating the artworks.

Original intention-balance urban and rural art education resources

In September, 2016, after Secretary-General Wenmei Yiu submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Education, the “Art Education Day” was officially launched in just three months. For the first year, it started with 370 teachers and students from rural areas north of Hsinchu. In 2017, the Ministry of Education became the co-organizer of this project to expand the efficacy of art education and balance urban and rural art education resources. In addition to the participation of rural schools, art classes of various schools were also joined in, such as students from the art classes of the Affiliated Experimental Elementary School of National Tsing Hua University and Hsinchu Chien Hua Junior High School. Due to the overwhelming responses from the previous two years of the Art Education Day, in the 3rd Art Education Day in 2018, the quota for enrollment was immediately full within one week upon issuing school’s official document, and the quota was increased from the original 500 to 770. Even plenty of schools which did not participate in the project would promote the Art Education Day on their schools’ official websites to spread the message of art for ART TAIPEI. Moreover, the Ministry of Education is also listed as the supervisor for this project. 837 students in total visited the 4th “Art Education Day” in 2019. In the past, there was a school which enrolled 300 students at one time. In order to balance the gap in art education between urban and rural areas, a quota of 60 per school was set in 2019 to allow more children to gain art education opportunities. In addition, the number of participating schools has also increased from 9 in 2018 to 15, which has been nearly doubled.

The annual Art Education Day focused on the artworks of emerging talents in Taiwan, and aboriginal or Chinese artists on Art Education Day in 2019.

The annual Art Education Day focused on the artworks of emerging talents in Taiwan, and aboriginal or Chinese artists on Art Education Day in 2019.

In 2020, almost all global art fairs have been cancelled. ART TAIPEI was held as scheduled due to the success of Taiwan’s pandemic prevention. Nevertheless, it is still difficult for the Art Education Day to break through the peak number of participants achieved in the past. In addition, due to the impact of the new outburst of the pandemic, it was only opened to schools north of Taichung City to participate, such that the number of visitors dropped to 691. Under the pressure of limited number of visitors and the scale of the venue, Secretary-General Wenmei Yiu popped up an idea. She actively sought cooperation with the art related department in National Taiwan Normal University, Huafan University, National Taiwan University of Arts, National Taipei University of Education, and other colleges or universities to launch a new project “Educational Curriculum Linkup Project”, which rendered the number of visiting people, which was originally not optimistic, to rush up to more than a thousand, even reaching 1,061. It has successfully integrated the resources of the art-related departments of the universities bit by bit and made a good publicity for art education for free.

Visit and practice simultaneously – holding activities to learn the art in Taiwan and participate in Art Education DIY

Sensing that students are unfamiliar with local art creators, “Art Education Day” in the exhibition area of ART TAIPEI mainly focuses on the artworks of emerging talents in Taiwan, aboriginal and Chinese artists. The exhibition areas that are regularly presented each year are “Made in Taiwan – Taiwan Young Artists Connection with the World” (special exhibition area “MIT”), “Taiwan Aboriginal Contemporary Art Exhibition” and special exhibition areas. The theme of each special exhibition is different each year. For example, in 2020, there was “Special Exhibition by Post War Taiwan Alumni Artists from Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong”, in 2017, “Taiwan Modern Painting Special Exhibition”, and in 2016, “South Island Art Special Exhibition”. Furthermore, in the face of students’ unfamiliarity with their own culture, Secretary-General Wenmei Yiu, who is the host of the art education program in ART TAIPEI, expressed her feelings, “When asked which artists the children know, the first seven are all Western artists and it was until the eighth artist, a local artist is mentioned, that is, Maestro Chengpo Chen…To face up to the education of our own Taiwanese art history, it should be started from a young age, and so does the enlightenment of art. From the special exhibition of Art Taipei, we’ve observed the promising artists who are in development, and also the potential and future of MIT artists. Through the interaction between the artists and these children, it will be great excitement and experience for each other.”

On Art Education Day in 2018, the participating students enjoyed the works of Taiwanese artist Ju Ming.

On Art Education Day in 2018, the participating students enjoyed the works of Taiwanese artist Ju Ming.

In addition to visiting the three major exhibition areas, the “Art Education Day” also values importance of “hands-on” experience for students. After seeing the MIT -Taiwan Young Artists Connection with the World, students were invited to participate in DIY activities and directly exchanged with MIT emerging artists face-to-face for cultivating precious exhibition experience, hoping to have more opportunities to communicate and interact with art through professional guidance. “Art Education Day” launched the “Art Education DIY” activity in its second year. The design for annual “Art Education DIY” courses is different and the content is rich and interesting. For example, in 2017, the aboriginal artist Etan Pavavalung was invited to give a lecture on “Art Patterns and Engraving Printmaking Workshop DIY Activity”; in 2018, students from National Taiwan Normal University joined in and were trained as seed teachers to teach in groups through professional guidance of “Tai-Hwa Pottery”; and in 2019, the creative picture book coloring was held, in which students made DIY notebooks, and the MIT award-winning artists were invited to share and interact with students on the spot to teach students to use their imagination and express their inner feelings through painting creation. In 2020, the “Creative Small Objects DIY” was held, and students were led by Professor Shyue-Ying Chiang of Art Education Major from the National Taiwan Normal University to utilize the imagination from the impression of the visit to make your own badges, refrigerator magnets, etc. Wenmei Yiu said emphatically, “It’s not challenging if we do the same thing every year. We challenge ourselves on the established basis, and we will have new ideas every time. Education itself is a work of establishing foundation and accumulation. When the foundation is rooted and accumulated through time, how can the accomplishment be seen and recognized all the time? Innovation is very important. Something new must be achieved.”

In the "Art Education DIY" of Art Education Day, 2020, AIT Cultural Officer Luke Martin also participated in the live event.

In the “Art Education DIY” of Art Education Day, 2020, AIT Cultural Officer Luke Martin also participated in the live event.

Meticulous planning and details-pre-departure education and professional talent cultivation

It may be difficult to imagine that the preparations before the event are long and cumbersome merely for one day of art education. In addition to careful planning and detailed control, etiquette education and Cultivation Plans for Exhibition Guides and Art Education DIY before the exhibition is the crucial key. For example, on the “Art Education Day” every year, there will be hundreds of students participating in the art fair, ranging from elementary school to high school. In order to manage the order, a “pre-departure education” will be held in the morning of the exhibition to teach students the etiquette and precautions when visiting the exhibition. “Students are of low controllability and there are many variables among them, so pre-preparation and execution involve a lot of discussion. There may be sudden or unexpected situations in the process. How to turn a crisis into an opportunity is always a challenge.” With the gradual attention paid to art education, the cultivation of art guides becomes more and more important. In 2018, the “Cultivation Plans for Exhibition Guides and Art Education DIY” was launched in cooperation with the College of Arts of the National Taiwan Normal University, with the goal of cultivating professional guides. Six training courses are specially offered for the students of the College of Arts of the National Taiwan Normal University. The contents of the courses are embedded into the campus curriculum so that the “Art Education Day” activities are deepened.

The photo shows the on-site tour by the guide trained by the "Cultivation Plans for Exhibition Guides and Art Education DIY" of the College of Arts of National Taiwan Normal University on Art Education Day in 2019.

The photo shows the on-site tour by the guide trained by the “Cultivation Plans for Exhibition Guides and Art Education DIY” of the College of Arts of National Taiwan Normal University on Art Education Day in 2019.

At the art fair site, the last day of the “Art Education Day” always brings a relaxed atmosphere to the exhibition, temporarily putting art and commerce aside. An impressive occasion was at the “Taiwan Modern Painting Special Exhibition” in 2017. A group of students selected their favorite sketches at the request of their teacher. They saw the artwork “Still Life” of the Taiwanese senior artist Chihchi Chen, and immediately squatted on the ground holding a drawing board to draw. At that time, Yuxiu Chen, the President of the Public Television Service, happened to be viewing the artworks nearby, and was very pleasantly surprised when she saw the scene. This further opened up the media’s attention to the Art Education Day, which became a nice anecdote for a lovely daily chat.

Visiting students and Secretary-General Wenmei Yiu of TAGA took a group photo in front of the artwork "Still Life" of the Taiwanese senior artist Chihchi Chen on the Art Education Day in 2017.

Visiting students and Secretary-General Wenmei Yiu of TAGA took a group photo in front of the artwork “Still Life” of the Taiwanese senior artist Chihchi Chen on the Art Education Day in 2017.

The most beautiful scenery in the art fair is that children appreciate the paintings intently and sketches in front of the paintings they like, which induces dazzling, colorful shapes and images inspired by imagination in the little heads. Getting close to art is not just an argument in a book, but an action of participation and practice. Art fairs are a very important part of the on-site art education. The “Art Education Day” in ART TAIPEI has exceeded expectations and achieved the performance goal every year, exerting its influence. Entering its sixth year, “Art Education Day” in 2021 will usher in the next milestone. How will this gold mine of art education be developed? What kind of surprises will it bring in this year? We are looking forward to it wholeheartedly. Let’s wait and see!

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