Thursday, June 14, 2012

Arts Based Research Days in Spring 2012

Ryan Trecartin, seated and laughing in Miami, ...
Ryan Trecartin, seated and laughing in Miami, FL, inside the production house for Trecartin's Any Ever 2009/2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Kara Walker, Cut, Cut paper and adhesive on wa...
Kara Walker, Cut, Cut paper and adhesive on wall, Brent Sikkema NYC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Adlestrop Church Adlestrop Church is ...
English: Adlestrop Church Adlestrop Church is dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. It is likely that Jane Austin would have visited this church during her three visits to Adlestrop in 1794, 1799 and 1806, she was related to the parish vicar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This spring I was able to participate in two full-day arts-based research days. 

In April I attended the pre-conference day of the Arts-Based Research Special Interest group of the American Educational Research Association on the University of British Columbia Campus.  I had the opportunity to learn about the founding and history of this group, to hear a presentation from a Vancouver artist who works in public sustainable art, and to think with a great group of old and new friends with interest in this topic.

In May, there was an Arts in Qualitative Research pre-conference day at the International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry at the University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois.  This was the first such event at ICQI.  Organized by Liora Bresler, it brought together a diverse group of researchers. 

I presented a paper that brought together my art interests with the sexting research.  Here is the title and abstract.  A paper will be forthcoming!

Gender, Technology, Power, and Sexuality:  Jane Austin, Kara Walker, and Ryan Trecartin as Social Theorists for Making Sense of Teens Views of Sexting

For the past year I have been engaged as the qualitative researcher in a three-state, focus group study of teens views of sexting and adults perceptions of those views.  Findings from this study demonstrate the complex ways in which gender, technology, and social power are intertwined with young people’s developing sexuality and their notions of status and intimacy.  As I searched for theoretical frameworks to understand the materials I was analyzing, I began to consider three artists—Jane Austin-novelist; Kara Walker-visual artist; Ryan Trecartin-video artist--as theoretical mentors to my analysis process and what I was learning about the issues of teens and their private and social worlds.  Questions that these three artists raised for me in regard to the focus group material included:  How is social role set in place by the performance of race/class/gender and the mediation of technology?  How is sexuality and technology combined to position the subject and object of desire?  What are the contexts in which one’s desire can be performed?  What are the aesthetics of such performances?

In this paper, I will provide a brief overview of the study of teen views of sexting.  Then, I will discuss the three artist’s and the ways their work provides social theory that is applicable—both individually and collectively—to the analysis of the materials I have been examining.  Of particular interest to me is the reflexive way in which I worked with analysis of the focus group materials and my three artist theorists and how this process deepened my understanding of teens’ views as it expanded my understanding of the artist theorist’s social message.   In concluding the paper, I champion the arts-based research view that artists’ works be considered as theory with equal weight to the theory presented in social science textual resources (for example:  Bakhtin, Giddens, Marx, etc.), as opposed to being relegated to the role of illustration. 
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