My creative endeavors lie in the arena of fiber and mixed media. From childhood on, I have been interested in fiber in all its forms – weaving, basketry, sewing, knitting, crocheting. Several years ago, I discovered felt—one of the most ancient of human fiber forms-- and in doing so found a home base for my creative activities. Felt draws on all my knowledge of fibers and their unique characteristics. The process of felting is akin to paper making and ceramics, and felt itself can be marked upon like cloth or paper. The possibilities seem endless to me.
Bringing this artistic interest in closer alignment with my ‘real job’—as a reading specialist, literacy researcher, and now qualitative research methodologist—has been a project of many decades. Only in the last few years have I been able to formalize the relationship between the hands-on maker and the thinker/writer through the development of ‘The Journal Project’, a study of an 18 month period of my personal journals that blends qualitative research software, arts activities, and autoethnography. This project central to my work as a Faculty Associate at the Center for Women and Work.
Fiber work connects me to the deepest places in my soul. It allows me to make tangible the issues of meaning making that are at the heart of qualitative research. The characteristics of fiber—color, texture, twist, feltability—become tools for expression. Fiber allows me to honor the process of inquiry, playfulness, spirituality, and the value of making. With the culmination of ‘The Journal Project’, I am creating an art exhibit that presents felt in the context of discussions of qualitative research methodology, allowing these two powerful sources in my life to join forces.
|River: A piece that will be shown at the International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry: May 2011|