Merel Zwarts (1989) is an artist, researcher and educator. She lives and works in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She studied at the HKU University of Arts Utrecht, at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam, and completed the Master Comparative Arts and Media Studies at the VU University in Amsterdam. Her context/community specific artistic practice consists of a combination of social situations, research and educational activities which results in installations, collective action, collaboration, prints or projects with the intention to stimulate a playful dialogue. The base of her work is the human encounter and it’s social constructions within a specific context. Her work deals with the following topics: the body, alternative pedagogy, experimental communication and play in society. She mainly works with children to question together the current status quo and imagining alternatives through collective creation. The projects stimulate children to gain agency in a world dominated by adults.

Currently is she working as a researcher at HKU University of Arts in the Research in Creative Practices program

2013-2016: MA Arts and Culture: Comparative Arts and Media Studies, VU University Amsterdam
2008-2012: Bachelor of Education in Visual Art and Design, HKU University of Arts, Utrecht, NL
2007-2008: Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam, NL

2017 Artist Residency, Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto, Canada

2012: Thesis Thinking Making as an Artist Winner Best Thesis HKU University of Art, School of Visual Arts

Exhibitions and Projects
2018 De Groei Afdeling, Erfgoed, Center for Ecological Unlearning, Casco Art Institute & The Outsiders
2018 Hop Hope Hof – Ludoteque play project, Casco Art Institute
2018 Cut Up Curriculum, participatory wall decoration for (art)education professionals, HKU University of Ar
2017 Vlampijp Open Studios, Vlampijp Ateliers, Utrecht
2017 Commons for Children: Playground Press, Casco, Utrecht
2017 Saint Martin Parade, Sharing Arts Society, Utrecht
2017 Echo Cohesion, Casco – Office for Art, Design & Theory
2017 Radio Kakofonie, Cultural Sunday, Casco–Office for Art, Design & Theory Utrecht
2016 ‘City of Flags, Gat in de Markt! Festival, (Un)usual Business, Utrecht
2016 ‘Laat je Droomhuis-Zine’, Printing and Zine making project, Casco–Office for Art, Design & Theory Utrecht
2016 ‘Sterrenstof’, Collaborative art project with children, Casco–Office for Art, Design & Theory Utrecht
2016 ‘Iedereen een kunstenaar’ project in collaboration with Cooperativo Cráter Invertido(MX) for the exhibition We Are The Time Machines, Casco–Office for Art, Design & Theory, Utrecht
2015 City of Flags, Participatory Art Project, Casco–Office for Art, Design & Theory, Utrecht
2014 Tijdelijke kunstwinkel, In de Ruimte, Utrecht, group exhibition
2013 Galerie MAX, Utrecht, group exhibition
2013 Tijdelijke kunstwinkel, Utrecht, group exhibition
2012 Rhizomatic Space, Radboud University Nijmegen, solo exhibition
2012 Discovery Festival Rotterdam, group exhibition
2012 Exposure, Graduation Show, HKU University of Arts, Utrecht, group exhibition
2012 Inside Out, Eiland 8 Expo, in collaboration with Nightwalkers, Expodium, Utrecht, group exhibition
2011 Nestverlaters, 222, Utrecht, group exhibition
2010 Vrij Spel, collaboration with David Bade and HKU Students, Dom Square, Utrecht

Lectures, Education and Teaching Experience

2017 Project Coordinator 100% Contemporary, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, TENT & MAMA, Rotterdam
2017 Commons for Children – XVI Biennale IASC Conference in collaboration with Aimée Zito Lima, Casco
2012-present Various children workshops at various afterschool childcare centres and festivals
2016 Flag making workshop at Monsanto Tribunal’s People Assembly in collaboration with INLAND and Casco
2016 Big Emotions, participatory project at CSG Groene Hart, Alphen a/d Rijn
2015-2016 Lecturer at HKU University of Arts Utrecht
2015-2016 Research Assistant at research program Research in Creative Practices, HKU University of Arts
2013-2014 Art teacher at Parnassos, Cultural Centre of Utrecht University
2012 Teacher of drawing and arts and crafts, Oosterlicht College, Nieuwegein
2012 Project coordinator and curator of Eiland8 Expo, Kanaleneiland, Utrecht
2012 Performance workshops Artist is Present, Amadeus Lyceum Vleuten
2011 Lecture on my artistic research, Sixpack, Studium Generale, HKU University of Arts
2011 Lecture on my artistic research for 2nd year students at HKU University of Arts
2011 For the Exhibition Too late, too little (and how) to fail gracefully by Bikvanderpol at Kunstfort Asperen I provided the educational project and workshops for children
2010 initiator and creator of online art education project De Oplossingsmachine
2010 Lecture at HKU University of Art on my artistic practice to 2nd year students of the Bachelor Visual Art and Design in Education
2010 Lecture on Avant-garde in Art History: Dadaism, Utrecht Centrum voor de Kunsten, Utrecht

2012 ‘Denken(d) Maken(d) als kunstenaar’ Thesis Fine Art & Education, HKU University of Arts, online via Mister Motley

2016: Review Cultural Sunday ‘Nieuwjaarsduik’ Uitagenda Utrecht,
2012: Eindexamencatalogus, HKU Exposure 2012
2012: Mister Motley Blog, Eindexamens 2012