The Third Side of the Page

By: Charles Pepiton   Rebekah Wilkins Pepiton  

In democracies, power sits with a community of individuals, but for democracies to thrive, we must listen to and enable the full range of the community’s narratives—leaders and followers, owners and workers, cultural epics and single-family stories of location and dislocation. The role of arts education is to empower these diverse voices through a variety of media and story forms. The authors draw from a combined 36 years of public school, university, community, and international classroom and studio experiences in theatre, film, community-based art, and visual art to share an interdisciplinary, documentary approach to arts education. The workshop outlines three projects and includes interactive participation to demonstrate the presenters’ pedagogical approaches. First, “The Migration Project” was created in a large suburban high school where visual art students worked with recent US immigrants and English Language Learners to illustrate their Coming to America stories. The project resulted in a traveling gallery show revealing the diversity of a high school community and was a catalyst for vital conversations about home, identity, and dispossession. Next, “Etude of Origin”, is the basis for creating physical theatre performances based on students’ family creation myths. Finally, “Storied China” was developed during the presenters’ U.S. Peace Corps service in China. Students interviewed their oldest living relative to elicit untold oral histories. The project involved translation, multiple story and poetic forms, and performance. During the interactive portion of the workshop, participants will explore foundational creative exercises for initiating documentary art projects with diverse populations.

Multimodality, Arts Pedagogies, Performance Studies, Creative Arts, Self Inquiry, Multiliteracies
2020 Special Focus - Against the Grain: Arts and the Crisis of Democracy
Workshop Presentation

Charles Pepiton

Associate Professor & Chair, Theatre & Dance, Gonzaga University, United States
WA, United States

Charles M Pepiton works as Associate Professor and Chair of Theatre & Dance at Gonzaga University and Producting Artistic Director at Square Top Theatre. For more information, please visit:

Rebekah Wilkins Pepiton

Visual Art Educator & Curriculum Coordinator, Central Valley High School, United States
WA, United States

Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton is a community arts leader and art educator. She is a visual art educator and curriculum coordinator for Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley, WA. She also serves on the Spokane Art Commission (2015-present). From 2016-19, Ms. Wilkins-Pepiton co-directed Telling War, an NEH funded initiative to support US combat veterans through arts and humanities programming. Before moving to Spokane, she served as Executive Director for the St. Lawrence County Arts Council in upstate New York. She is a proud Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (China 2010-2012). She is also a working artist exhibiting in galleries across the US.