The map expresses the identity of the journey and what one journeys through. It merges with its object, when the object itself is movement, open and connectable in all its dimensions while also being a product of performance.
-Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari
AN ARTS-BASED COLLECTIVE RESEARCH PROJECT
Spring 2016 Exhibit: #tumblingbodies #academiccartographies
WJB Gallery, Florida State University
Sara Scott Shields, PhD; Gloria Wilson, PhD; Kelly Guyotte, PhD; Brooke Hofsess, PhD
As we encounter various spaces in our lived experiences, we, as academics/visual artists/educators have begun to consider embodied cartography as an ongoing process of both mapping and sensemaking. Over the past two years, we have each found ourselves provoked by such embodied considerations as we graduated from the same doctoral program in art education and transitioned into tenure-track positions at different universities. Our physical movements tracked us toward four cities in the southeastern United States, and as researchers/artists/educators the aesthetic embodiment of such movements emerged in our experiences. Through ongoing dialogues, we awakened to our interconnected epistemological, ontological, and methodological movements as we engaged each other and with our new spaces.
Our research draws upon two distinct, yet complementary qualitative methodological approaches: collaborative (collective) autoethnography and arts-based research. We re-imagine the potential for representation within shared scholarship through an ongoing arts-based autoethnography. Our inquiry engages the question: How do we, a diverse collective of female, tenure-track assistant professors, map our movements individually, collectively and aesthetically through academic spaces?
By opening cartographic inquiries to also encompass the visual arts, art becomes a living discourse and relational event that brings together maker and observer. Embodied cartography as a theoretical perspective encourages moving through, engaging in, and therefore, entangling aesthetically with our human and nonhuman world. The diversity of factors shaping our lives as women, (spatial/bodily locations across time, for instance) has resulted in different expressions of these common themes. This framework acknowledges representations of corporeality in general, and specifically, race and gender as bodily inscriptions. As such, an understanding of “the body” necessitates that it holds meaning and does not and cannot exist independent of the world. The body is always in the world, of the world, with the world, part of the world.
Our shared experiences as K-12 educators and tenure track faculty members unites us in these research explorations, yet we also acknowledge how our own epistemological and ontological influences generate varied experiences within our collective. With this awareness of the difference among us, we feel it is important to specify the in, of, with and parts of the world our bodies occupy. This arts informed and multi-voiced methodological approach to collaborative research brings together multiple researchers through co-constructed yet ambiguous, uncertain, and sometimes contradictory perspectives of cultural experiences. Embracing a critical postmodern sensibility, our approach preserves the individual voice while also exploring how these voices comprise a collective and dialogic process of meaning making through the research process.
Our work is informed by what becomes manifest in and through female bodies as they move through academic spaces. For this exhibition, we turn to arts based modes of representation to help fully realize the creative potential of our narratives. On the tails of the representative debate, the arts emerge as a viable means of challenging what representation means and how researchers might both live in/with, and make sense of, our inquiries With the fundamental understanding of knowing as an embodied encounter and embracing the visual arts’ ability to seek out qualitative nuances, provide empathy, give new perspectives and tell about our capacity to engage with life.