Kira Hegeman us currently in the second year of a PhD program in Art Education, with a focus on arts-based research, informal sites of learning and socially-engaged art. Kira came to Art Education on a non-traditional path. Central to her life and career aspirations was exploring the world and learning about its many cultures. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies in comparative religion and Russian at the University of Vermont, Kira moved to Thailand, where she lived for almost five years.
While in Thailand, Hegeman cemented her interests in both education and the arts. She worked as a facilitator of experiential education programs for visiting school groups from around the world—a position that not only allowed her to travel the country, but to also witness the benefits of hands-on and multidisciplinary education. Hegeman also served as the Art Director for Art Relief International, a Thailand based organization devoted to empowerment and community-building through the arts.
Hegeman’s studies at the University of Georgia have focused on studio practice, arts-based research, alternative arts education and community development, with a central focus on public art and pedagogy. Continually inspired by the power of creative expression to promote communication, confidence, and group cohesion, Kira’s research interests include the role of interactivity, public space, and collaborative art making in fostering conversation across diverse social lines. Kira works as both an artist and educator, striving to create visual works that invite participants to collaborate in the art making process through storytelling, public workshops, or interactive elements.
In addition to scholarly pursuits, Hegeman has received grants to support community-based art projects. Most recently, she collaborated with a fellow art educator to develop a participatory installation for Art on the Atlanta Beltline, a temporary Public Art Festival held annually on the Atlanta Beltline. The project invited members of the Atlanta community to participate in free ceramics workshops in a public park. The pieces they built in the workshop were then fired and installed collectively on the Beltline, playfully immersed in nooks and crannies of the Interim Eastside Trail, inviting participants to discover their work in a new environment and share in a collective installation. Additionally, she received a Willson Center Grant to complete a kinetic, interactive installation of moveable sculptures, as well as an Athens Cultural Affairs Commission Grant to build a community clay oven with the Pinewoods Mobile Home Community in Athens, GA, in conjunction with Chris McDowell. Kira is also excited to have had her design chosen as one of the 18 holes at Can Can Wonderland, a permanent art miniature golf course in St.Paul, Minnesota.