Art As Research

Entering Graduate School in 2003 at the insistent urging of my intuition, I did not imagine entering into study toward a Master in Nursing degree would take me on a journey of excavating my life/being through an art process. This excavation in the form of a conceptual, figurative, sculptural installation called Border Crossings (image this page), explores the disabling nature of the illness I experience, power relationships, subjectivities and the multi-dimensional nature of being. The installation is the basis for my art-based research and focus of my thesis. Through this inquiry I came to know A/r/tography as a research method that spoke to my process and how I work.

A-r-tography - the practice of inquiry through art, teaching and writing is “a process of unfolding art and text together (art in this sense could mean poetry, music or other forms of artistic inquiry. As a research methodology that intentionally unsettles perception and complicates understandings, how we come to know and live within space and time is subsequently altered”*. It is an inquiry into the self and because the self is relational, encompasses the community as well.

For me, Art as Research is a continual process of inquiry through artmaking (singing/drumming,  process-painting, sculpting, writing, ceremony, shamanic journeying and subtle energy work) that takes into account the process aspect of the artist. This form of inquiry gets ‘beneath the surface’ to experience and knowing that may not otherwise be possible. The Installation ‘Border Crossings’ in the accompanying images, is the art piece at one stage of the research process. The construction of the installation was a 5 month process and its transformation through being installed/presented at six University conference/symposiums, two art galleries and altered through a public Transformational Healing Ceremony/Performance art, a workshop that began the dissolution of the art and simultaneous new art creation fromthe art-i-facts of its dissolution, to a personal private ceremonial dissolution/transformation through burning.

The fullness of the life “Border Crossings” will in time, be posted here in word and image.

*Irwin, R, Springgay,S, Leggo, C, Gouzaouasis, (2008) . Being with A/R/Tography, Sense publishers, Rotterdam, p. .xxvi

Border Crossings, An a/r/tographic inquiry into disabling illness

This 7 minute video portrays the art process of the artist/nurse/healer/teacher researcher who enquired through A/r/rography - art/research/teaching and writing to explore and understand the meaning(s) held within the art: Border Crossings - a conceptual, figurative, sculptural installation depicting the artist/researcher coming up against the institution, the illness and the self.