Petra Vacková is a first year PhD student at the Open University, where she also received a Master of Research in Education degree prior to her PhD. Owning to her wide range of interests, Petra also completed a Master in Contemporary Art History and Theories from the Leiden University in 2009 and her Master of Fine Arts at the ArtEZ Institute for the Arts in the Netherlands in 2011. Under different job roles Petra has worked with and supported contemporary artists and art institutions in the US, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. Among others, Petra has worked as an intern in Museum Kampa in Prague, Czech Republic and Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, US. Petra was also part of a vibrant blogging team at the Los Angeles Art Resources in LA where she regularly conducted interviews with local artists and art initiatives. As a teacher, Petra worked with different groups of young learners in different settings around the world. Petra taught summer sessions at a Montessori Preschool in Prague and organized and ran several classes for young learners at the Czech School of LA. Finally, her most recent internship experience prior to her PhD as a development and communications intern for the California Alliance for Arts Education also in LA galvanised her passion for advocacy and her firm believe in arts education having a fundamental role in learner development.
Petra’s PhD study brings her back to her home country where she works with young children and adults from an affluent community to learn about their practices of social inclusion and exclusion in and around artmaking in early-years settings through ethnographic methods. Petra’s research interests are closely aligned with Posthumanist theories and that is why her objective is to assert the important role that materiality of artmaking processes plays in shaping social practices. Her study therefore pays close attention to inter and intra-actions among human and non-human participants. Her goal is to shed light on and rethink practices of social inclusion and exclusion within the context of early-years artmaking settings working with hard to reach children in the Czech Republic; the premise being that, if we are to improve social inclusion practices, we must first understand them through their complexity and multiplicity, and forces of inclusion and exclusion that push and pull active/acting bodies together and apart. Petra’s hope is that the project will among other things accentuate both the knowledge produced by a particular community as well as the role of their collective agency in shaping their own practices of social inclusion and exclusion.
For her master thesis, a preliminary study for her PhD work, titled Social Inclusion in and around Visual Arts Activities: Epistemic Practices in a Preschool Context, Petra was one of the recipients of the 2018 BERA Master Dissertation Highly Commended Award. A short piece A posthumanist, materialist perspective on artmaking processes may shed a new light on the practices of social inclusion and exclusion in early years settings based on the preliminary findings of the master thesis was on July 2018 published at the BERA blog.