balloons_fall fair
Today I read and share;
By necessity, the complexity of visual arts research practice has to bridge disciplines, and in doing so, not only opens up new possibilities such as those on offer within the newer information technologies, but it also renders moot old arguments that see inquiry as methods bound rather than issues driven. For the artist-theorist completing projects within the academic setting, the methods deployed in surrounding a research problem will be necessarily broad yet grounded in personal and public relevance. Whether undertaking research in art or about art, the artist-theorist becomes involved in a set of practices that must be defensible. The aim of research in visual arts, as in other similar forms of exploratory inquiry, is to provoke, challenge, and illuminate rather than confirm and consolidate. Making informed choices about creative ends and means involves selecting, adapting, and constructing ways of working and ways of seeing. To do this, one has to construct the tools of inquiry from an array of practices. Yet when working from a base in contemporary art, the conceptions of the discipline are uncertain, the informing parameters are open-ended, yet the opportunity for inventive inquiry is at hand. In these circumstances, the artist-theorist is seen to be participating in a postdisciplinary, relational and transformative practice.
Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in Visual Arts
(p. 178-179)

I would like to see a weekly community quilting circle at the coffee shop downtown…

yarn stash I have been thinking for almost a year now that I would like to begin a open, community, quilting bee where there is no one-teacher, and no on- way to create the quilts individual squares. The pattern of the quilt would evolved based on the involvement and styles of the individual participants and finished quilts would be donated to a charity – each one decided upon by the individuals who worked on that particular quilt. Originally I had thought that I would approach a local arts centre to hold the gatherings, but now I think that perhaps it should be at a local coffee shop. I am reading a very interesting book right now, The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg. It talks about cafes, pubs, hair salons, etc., as being important places for community’s social vitality and also of grassroots democracy. It is giving me lots of interesting ‘material’ for thought.

These two papers were delivered at “Celebrating Canada’s Craft Amateurs”, part of Imagining History: A Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Conference held May 3-5 2012, Concordia University.

Visual Knowing :•”Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)

Seth Godin

I am thinking about the role that studio practice plays in the conduct of academic research. Back to the text Art Practice as Research

In Chapter 5 of Art Practice as Research, Graeme Sullivan writes;
Maxine Greene says that art can’t change things, but it can change people, who can change things. She talks of the imagination as the place where the possible can happen, a place of “resisting fixities, seeking the openings,” where “we relish incompleteness, because that signifies that something still lies ahead” (2003, pp.22-23). The promise of change that comes from the imagination takes shape in the things we create, through what we make and experience, or from what we come to see and know through the experience of someone else. Using the visual arts to turn questions into understanding that give rise to more questions not only describes and aesthetic process of self-realization, but it also describes a process of research. If we believe that the outcome of inquiry is the creation of new knowledge, this means that knowing, or the capacity to use our understanding in new ways, will always be incomplete. Although this sense of unknowing propels the imagination there is always and element of completion as our new knowledge helps us understand things we did not know before. (p. 121)

It is also perhaps relevant to be reminded that Albert Einstein once famously said that, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” He also said that, “The most beautiful things we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true arts and science.” And Gerhard Richter is quoted as having said, (Art)”presents itself as the Unmanageable, the Illogical, the Meaningless. It demonstrates the endless multiplicity of aspects; it takes away our certainty, because it deprives a thing of its meaning and its name. It shows us the thing in all the manifold significance and infinite variety that preclude the emergence of any single meaning and view”.

Hum, seems difficult imagine how one might intelligently argue that research could exist without visual art. And the last word here goes to, Mae Jemison (astronaut, doctor and dancer);

Research, hcraeser, crhraese…

Here is where I sit. I am studying the Framework of Visual Arts Research.

Here it is.
Framework for Visual Arts Research
It is described by the texts author Graeme Sullivan as a “dynamic process [that] opens up several relational and transformative research practices that are found within and across, between and around the framework, as visual arts research proceeds from a stable state to a liquid from of understanding.” (p.102, emphasis in original)

Related, this photo struck me when I came across it recently.
My understanding of the image is in perfect serendipity with my current chapter topic, Self-Similar Research Structures. At first glance the woman in the photo is all upside-down, mixed up and heavy -then immediate second thought- she’s in her element in the studio and doing a yoga headstand (something that requires a great deal of personal strength and control), challenging herself to see the art in front of her in a new/fresh way.

Which leads me back to the subject of Self-Similar Research Structures….
self-similar Structures
This diagram is from the text Art Practice as Research: Inquiry In Visual Arts by Graeme Sullivan

The text goes on to describe the practice in the following way:
Reductionism and Euclidean notions of space are powerful systems that have a strong historical legacy in guiding inquiry in bot the sciences and the arts. The assumption is that a change in scale reveals new information so that the more things can be reduced to their basic essence, the better the chance of figuring out how they work. But nature and humans resist such simplistic design. It is not so much and evolutionary move from simple to complex that holds promise, but rather it is the capacity to embrace both the simple and the complex at the same time. Self-similarity is a concept that has its origin in the mathematics of fractal geometry developed by Benoit Mandelbrot (1983). Fractal structures have become very influential in chaos theory and other fields and describe iterative patterns found in nature and human designs that appear both simple and complex, yet generally look regular, and possess the capacity for radical change over time. […] The concept of self-similarity shown in [the above diagram] nicely captures the capacity of transformative visual arts to deal with issues and concerns at all levels of theory and practice. This characteristic means that visual arts research practice is independent of scale, which suggests that it has a similar structure if undertaken in the studio, in the community, or within the culture. The basic triangular unit within this structure exhibits the properties of self-similarity because there is no underlying structure upon which more detailed systems are built. Instead, no matter whether viewed at the microlevel or macrolevel, the structure has similar properties and characteristics – it is both simple and complex at the same time. [End quote. p.116]

At this point in my research I am developing a framework for my practice-based research project. Daily, I reach deep into myself to maintain the courage to hold onto this slippery and permeable practice as I leap out into the exciting void trusting that one of two things will happen; either I will find something solid to stand on – or I will learn to fly.

As a more general argument for the necessity of more arts-based research in academia, Graeme Sullivan goes on in his book to say;
Anyone interested in human engagement in a changing social, cultural, and global world brought into sharper focus by the critical cuts of postmodernism and the pervasive possibilities of technologies cannot help but be excited. Amid this uncertainty and creativity there are dilemmas as past convictions come under challenge. For instance, the reductive paradigm that served art and science so well for so long no longer reveals the elusive truths thoughts to reside within matter and motion. Scientists and artists who are really interested in finding order within chaos and who see the mirocworld and macroworld around us as the lab or the studio are looking deep into material processes and organizing patterns with surprising outcomes. And these investigations often get carried out in the spaces between disciplines and without the safety net of codified practices. […] Therefore, art practice needs to be seen as a valuable site for raising theoretically profound questions and exploring them using robust research methods. Further, there is an extensive range of modalities and methods that can be used the yield critically grounded and individually transforming outcomes. From this perspective, artistic practice can be seen to comprise a critical coalition of practices that involve an ongoing dialogue within and across , between and around the artist, artwork and context, where each has a role to play in the pursuit of understanding. But to argue that are practice is a form of research in the way ,there is a need to accept that the visual image is a source and site of knowledge and understanding. This is a plausible claim if we consider how images operate as texts, artifacts, and events that embody individual and cultural meanings. And within this layering of image structures, there are mediated processes and systems of production and exchange that further complicate and intensify the status of images as information sites and cultural codes.
Within this cultural regime, the artist-researcher takes on a larger responsibility. Old traditions that see visual arts as a human capacity that is produced and interpreted by a select few are no longer tenable as access and ownership of the creation and communication of images of all sorts ins in the hands of the many.[…]
The circumstances are such that new vision abound because ideas these days are less constrained by discipline rigidities. And the complement of surrounding theories continues to open ups new possibilities for locating links among areas such as the sciences, the arts and humanities, and newer technologies. Consequently, it is no longer plausible to accept empty rhetoric such as the claim that the visual image is merely a way of saying what cannot effectively be said in words or numbers. Rather, […], it can be argued that a new era of visual arts research is possible for those who see studio art as a site for conducting transformative research that had individual and cultural relevance. Further, there is a degree of flexibility in how visual arts research might be formalized in order to meet the credibility demands of institutional practice, bit it the goal of “good research” in the university of the quest for “good art” in the art world. (p. 119-120)


I self-identify as: A Maker.

Keywords that describe my practice:
Contemporary Craft; Collaborative Pedagogy; Feminist Ethics; Community; Practice-Based Research; Doing (making) as a way of Knowing; Fibre Arts; Sculpture; Installation; Drawing; Painting.

*(Keywords with thanks to Connie Michele Morey, for inspiration from her CV)

Warm wishes for 2014!


It was truly a classic Christmas winter wonderland here on the east coast of Canada this year! We had record amounts of snow fall, and rosy red cheeks everywhere you look!
Christmas 2013 and Yoho Lake 268
This was taken here December 30th – a gorgeous day for a snow shoe in the woods.
Christmas 2013 and Yoho Lake 329

This is the felt advent calendar that I made for the family this year. It was a real hit with young and old alike – each with their own ideas about just exactly how to decorate the tree! It’s hard to believe that it’s already packed away until next year…
Christmas 2013 and Yoho Lake 188

Christmas 2013 and Yoho Lake 189

Christmas 2013 and Yoho Lake 190

Looking forward to sharing lots of exciting Canadian fibre based art with you in 2014!