Touro Graduate School of Social Work recently hosted award-winning visual artist Andrea Arroyo at the school’s “Arts Intervention in Social Work Practice” class. The artist and curator shared with the social work students her presentation “Tribute to the Disappeared,” and facilitated a class discussion on art for social change. “Tribute” is an art project Arroyo founded in 2014 in honor of the disappeared in Mexico that aims to bring public attention to the disappeared.
Student Eman Said was moved by the presentation. “Arroyo allowed us to experience a deeper insight into the lives of parents of 43 students that had gone missing in Mexico,” she said. “The most compelling aspect of the presentation was the photos of the parents of the missing students. The face of a father showed agony and confusion. The art collection was signifying a commonality between all people who are suffering from oppression, injustice, war and poverty that are under scrutiny for no other reason. I appreciate the narrative of the families of these students that went missing and giving them a voice that can be heard across the world through art and solidarity.”
The class is taught by Associate Professor Annecy Baez, who said she incorporates the arts – such as visual art, journaling and creative writing – into her clinical social work with children, teens and adults to help them express emotions for self-understanding. Using art for social change as Ms. Arroyo is doing helps rectify social justice issues, Baez said. “Art stirs our emotions — from anger, to fear, to grief. It brings awareness to issues we may be unaware of, and it humanizes them. Art for social change exposes and helps resolve many of the social justice issues we encounter,” she said.
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Ms. Arroyo works in a range of media and exhibits widely, with her work in private, corporate and public collections around the world. Her public artworks include permanent indoor and outdoor projects for a New York City subway station, two schools and other private, institutional and corporate spaces. She has received many honors including the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, and multiple grants from the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, the Harlem Arts Alliance and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.