Counter with Care is a project created by Shannon Gerard and the students in her Pressing Issues course at OCAD University, in Toronto. The goals of the course are to conduct research, share knowledge, and work within the field of contemporary publication. Pressing Issues situates learning, as much as possible, outside of the classroom. There is one assignment: TO MAKE A PUBLIC.
Pressing Issues students analyzed texts such as Erin Charpentier and Travis Neel’s Art and Social Practice Workbook, Maurice Stein and Larry Miller’s Blueprint for Counter Education, and Corita Kent’s collection of assignments Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit. They critiqued ideas such as the relationship of learning to power, explored OCAD’s own history with radical pedagogy, and used mapping strategies to create space for marginalized or suppressed ‘knowledge practices.’
Part of their research included ‘a pilgrimage’ to the Corita Art Centre in Los Angeles where they celebrated CORITA 100 (Corita’s 100th birthday) by facilitating a banner making workshop with artists, local politicians, collectors, Corita enthusiasts and many of Corita’s former students. Party visitors contributed to the banner through sewing, stencilling, drawing, writing and collaging. Many people sat around the banners telling stories about Corita and the profound impact she had on their lives. The following day they paraded the banners from the Pacific Ocean at Playa Del Rey Beach to Otis College of Art and Design in a re-performance of the exuberant Immaculate Heart street parades central to Corita’s pedagogy. Students also made commemorative view finders, another of Corita’s iconic tools for looking at the world.
The final culminating project is an updated version of the Blueprint for Counter Education— a series of posters that suggest multiple points of entry into a web of feminist, artist-led, radical, decolonizing and unsettling texts, art projects, archives, and more.