The ‘sum total’ of my research..


(If theory, could be a mathematical equation, then the solution to my dissertation question would be as follows..)

“The (gender) of the artist matters”

Parker & Pollock, (1981). Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology, London, Routledge p.50.

+ (plus)

I work in tapestry primarily for its materiality and its capacity to shift within traditions, to shuttle between theoretical positions, to hover around borders, to challenge hierarchies and to connect with many different resonating imperatives. The medium, belonging everywhere and nowhere, is everything and nothing. It is what you think, and it conjures what you don’t know and can’t remember – it has no certainty.

Newdigate, A. (1995). “Kinda art, sorta tapestry: tapestry as shorthand access to the definitions, languages, institutions, attitudes, hierarchies, ideologies constructions, classifications, histories prejudices and other bad habits of the West” in New Feminist Art Criticism, ed. Kathy Deepwell, Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, pp. 174.

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Art is the most human of things. Based in the genetic, in the creative intelligence and the nimble body, art is a potential in every individual. Nurtured in social experience, taught, learned, and bent against circumstance, art is a reality in every culture. Always unifying what analysis divides, art is personal and collective, intellectual and sensual, inventive and conventional, material and spiritual, useful and beautiful, a compromise between will and conditions. Art is, given the storms and pains and limited resources, the best that can be done.

Glassie. (1997).  Art and Life in Bangladesh, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. p.1.

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But, as every first-year student of Western aesthetics learns, determining what is beauty or truth, not to mention significance or harmony, is no less difficult than defining art in the first place. And in any case, since the romantic period, artists themselves (influenced by the ever-growing Western cultural emphasis on individualism and originality) have deliberately flouted and contradicted the canonic aesthetic features, as they were described or proposed by philosophers, critics and other thinkers, as if to demonstrate that art, whatever its essence or validity, is protean, undefinable, and irreducible.

Hence the search for a common denominator, some quality or feature that characterizes all instances of art, that makes something “Art,”gradually became both outmoded and a lost cause. Today’s philosophers of art have totally abandoned trying to define the work or the concept. Looking at the plural and radical nature of the arts in out time, aware of the economic ramifications where canvases may be “worth” millions of dollars and were critics, dealers, and museum directors rather than artists or publics largely decide this value, philosophers concerned with art have concluded that art no longer exists (if it ever did ) in a vacuum or ideal reality for its own sake, with its sacred essence waiting to be discovered, but must be considered as it appears in and is dependent on a particular social context. In a post industrial, postmodern society, an art world (or “artworld”) determines what “Art” is and what is not “Art.” It exists, if at all, only as a socially and historically conditioned label. [*About this paragraph, what is most relevant to my research is the point that Dissanayake makes regarding what is critically and commercially regarded as “Art” today and the dependence of such Art upon its positive acceptance by dealers, museum directors and visual arts pedagogies. My assertion is that such acceptance is biased with regards to gender and what I describe as the feminization of crafts’ materials and methods.]

(p. 15)

Extra-Ordinary: In my view, the biological core of art, the stain that is deeply dyed in the  behavioral marrow of humans everywhere , is something I have elsewhere called “making special.” Like other key phrases used to name or summarize a complex concept (“pleasure principle,”survival of the fittest”), “making special” can without elaboration or context sound trivial or woolly. (p.16)

[..] Thus, in general, both rituals and art are formalized. Movements – what people do – are prescribed, the order of events is structured, and the individual participants’ perceptions, emotions, and interpretations are thereby shaped.

Ritual ceremonies and the arts are socially reinforcing, uniting their participants and their audiences in one mood. They  both provide and occasion for feelings of individual transcendence of the self – what Victor Turner (1969) calls communitas and Mahaly Csikszentmihalyi (1975) calls “flow” – everyone shares in the same occasion of patterned emotion. For a time, the hard edges of their customary isolation from each other are softened or melted together or their everyday taken-for-granted comradeship is reinforced.  (p.21)

As we look back through the eons, we see abundant evidence of humans making things or experiences special. Overwhelmingly what was chosen to be make special was what was considered important: objects and activities that were parts of ceremonies having to do with important transition, such as birth, puberty, marriage, and death; finding food, securing abundance, ensuring fertility ow women and of the earth; curing the sick; going to war of resolving or resolving conflict, and so forth. In the past, things were made special because they were perennially important, while today we consider something (anything) momentarily important because it has been make flashily if transiently special. (p. 31)

Dissanayake. H. (1992). ‘The Core of Art: Making Special’, from Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes From and Why, New York City, NY: Free Press (p. 1-26) found online 09/17/2016 at
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She Just Made It. (?)

by Danielle Hogan

Interdisciplinary Studies Doctorate Degree, University of New Brunswick 2016

(and now that dissertation in pictures..)



Published by Danielle Hogan

Visual artist, writer, curator, educator

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