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Artistic Mentoring as a Decolonizing Methodology

An Evolving 18-year Collaborative Painting Ethnography with Maya Artists


Kryssi Staikidis

To expand the possibilities of “doing arts thinking” from a non-Eurocentric view, Artistic Mentoring as a Decolonizing Methodology: An Evolving 18-year Collaborative Painting Ethnography with Maya Artists is grounded in Indigenous perspectives on arts practice, arts research, and art education. Mentored in painting for eighteen years by two Guatemalan Maya artists, Kryssi Staikidis, a North American painter and art education professor, used both Indigenous and decolonizing methodologies, which involve respectful collaboration, and continuously reexamined her positions as student, artist, and ethnographer searching to redefine and transform the roles of the artist as mentor, historian/activist, ethnographer, and teacher.

The primary purpose of the book is to illuminate the Maya artists as mentors, the collaborative and holistic processes underlying their painting, and the teaching and insights from their studios. These include Imagined Realism, a process excluding rendering from observation, and the fusion of pedagogy and curriculum into a holistic paradigm of decentralized teaching, negotiated curriculum, personal and cultural narrative as thematic content, and the surrounding visual culture and community as text.

The Maya artist as cultural historian creates paintings as platforms of protest and vehicles of cultural transmission, for example, genocide witnessed in paintings as historical evidence. The mentored artist as ethnographer cedes the traditional ethnographic authority of the colonizing stance to the Indigenous expert as partner and mentor, and under this mentorship analyzes its possibilities as decolonizing arts-based qualitative inquiry. For the teacher, Maya world views broaden and integrate arts practice and arts research, inaugurating possibilities to transform arts education.


Patricia Leavy

Film follows three women who moved to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams. Tash Daniels aspires to be a filmmaker. Her short film was rejected from festivals, she has a stack of rejected grant proposals, and she lost her internship at a studio when her boss harassed her, forcing her to take a job as a personal shopper. Lu K is a hot deejay slowly working her way up the club scene, but no one is doing her any favors. Fiercely independent, she’s at a loss when she meets Paisley, a woman who captures her heart. Monroe Preston is the glamorous wife of a Hollywood studio head. As a teenager she moved to LA in search of a “big” life, but now she wonders if reality measures up to fantasy. When a man in their circle finds sudden fame, each of these women is catapulted on a journey of self-discovery. As the characters’ stories unfold, each is forced to confront how her past has shaped her fears and to choose how she wants to live in the present. Film is a novel about the underside of dreams, the struggle to find internal strength, the power of art, and what it truly means to live a “big” life. Frequently shown bathed in the glow of the silver screen, the characters in Film show us how the arts can reignite the light within. With a tribute to popular culture, set against the backdrop of Tinseltown, Film celebrates how the art we make and consume can shape our stories, scene by scene. Although fictional, Film is loosely grounded in interview research. It can be read entirely for pleasure or used as supplemental reading in a variety of courses in women’s studies/gender studies, sociology, psychology, communication, popular culture, media studies, or qualitative inquiry. Film can be read as a stand-alone novel or as a sequel to the bestselling novel, Blue.

Culture and Environment

Weaving New Connections


Edited by David B. Zandvliet

The inspiration for this book arose out of a large international conference: the ninth World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) organized under the theme of Culture/Environment. Similarly, the theme for this book focuses on the Culture/Environment nexus. The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 consists of a series of research studies from an eclectic selection of researchers from all corners of the globe. Part 2 consists of a series of case studies of practice selected from a wide diversity of K-Postsecondary educators. The intent behind these selections is to augment and highlight the diversity of both cultural method and cultural voice in our descriptions of environmental education practice. The chapters focus on a multi-disciplinary view of Environmental Education with a developing view that Culture and Environment may be inseparable and arise from and within each other. Cultural change is also a necessary condition, and a requirement, to rebuild and reinvent our relationship with nature and to live more sustainably. The chapters address the spirit of supporting our praxis, and are therefore directed towards both an educator and researcher audience. Each chapter describes original research or curriculum development work.

Edited by Bernard W. Andrews

Arts education research has increased significantly since the beginning of the new millennium. This peer-reviewed book, the first of two volumes, captures some of the exciting developments in Canada. There is geographical diversity represented from across this large country, as well as theoretical and methodological diversity in the chapters. There is also a sense of togetherness with those, and other, diversities. There are calls to action and calls to play. We hear voices of artists, researchers, and artist researchers. The life histories of others, and of the self, are presented. Perspectives on Arts Education Research in Canada, Volume 1: Surveying the Landscape provides a wide spectrum of current research by members of the Arts Researchers and Teachers Society (ARTS)/La societé des chercheurs et des enseignants des arts (SCEA), a Special Interest Group (SIG) within the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies (CACS), which is in turn, is a constituent association of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE).

Contributors are: Bernard W. Andrews, Julia Brook, Susan Catlin, Genevieve Cloutier, Yoriko Gillard, Kate Greenway, Michael Hayes, Nané Jordan, Sajani (Jinny) Menon, Catrina Migliore, Kathryn Ricketts, Pauline Sameshima, and Sean Wiebe.

Arts-Based Education

China and Its Intersection with the World


Edited by Tatiana Chemi, Lihong Wang and Xiangyun Du

Core texts addressing creativity in a number of contexts show that creativity as a scientific subject has received principally the attention of Western scholars. Is this due to the fact that Western cultures are more creative or sensitive to creativity than the Eastern cultures? The editors strongly believe that this is more due to the differences in understanding and practising creativity in the West and East than to an Eastern indifference to creativity.

Arts-Based Education: China and Its Intersection with the World investigates the field of arts-based educational practices and research. It argues that reflections on these themes must necessarily be reframed and re-read beyond the limits of colonialist oppositions and suggests a constructive and reflexive approach to theory and methodology, which takes into account intercultural and critical perspectives in these studies.

This volume is the tangible product of the acknowledgement that China and Chinese culture deserves a more systematic and up-to-date dissemination through recent studies that bring together the arts, learning and creativity. It is clustered around two themes: (1) China and its communication with the world through arts-based education in international contexts, and (2) the development of arts education in China.

Genevieve Cloutier


This chapter examines some of the literature regarding how arts-based methods are being employed in interdisciplinary contexts, including geography, health care humanities, women’s studies and aboriginal studies, among others. Here, the literature demonstrates that arts-based methods often reveal transformational results (Freire, 1970; Greene, 1995). At the same time, the literature shows that researchers outside of the arts who employ arts-based methods are often doing so to engage research participants and that many researchers feel uncertain about their abilities to conduct arts-based research (Jones, 2014). In other words, they are not making art themselves. This generates questions and points to a gap in the literature. What would transpire if more researchers outside of the arts had support to make art in, with and about their respective fields? With this query, I propose a call to action to work with researchers outside of the arts to open up spaces of arts-based possibilities. Opportunities to re-imagine approaches to knowing and coming to know are countless.

Julia Brook and Susan Catlin


In Northern Canadian communities few, if any, formal arts education programs have been available, although art has always been an important part of northern cultures. Many northern Indigenous people have used and use their artistic abilities to support subsistence lifestyles. Research is, therefore, needed to understand how Indigenous people in Northern Canada develop their artistic abilities. We contend that understandings about arts education in Canada can be enhanced by these investigations.

We conducted life-history interviews with five Indigenous artists who grew up in small communities in the Northwest Territories. We used personhood theory (Cajete, 2016; Martin, Sugarman, & Hickinbottom, 2010) as a conceptual framework to illuminate how the artists were influenced and how they extended into and connected with the possibilities for being artists in their life-world. All of the artists in the study were recognized for their artistic abilities or sensibilities in their early years by family, friends, teachers, elders or leaders, and all the artists recognized their interest, identity and ability in themselves. The making of art for these artists was an intermingling of traditional and contemporary ideas and practices. While the particular art forms may not have been part of the traditions of their upbringing, they have used sculpting and painting, for example, as a new way to contribute to their Indigenous community and make their way in contemporary non-Indigenous culture. Our findings illuminate possibilities for arts education construed as intentional, connected support for young people as the artistic aspects of their personhood unfolds within a relational world.

Kathryn Ricketts


I explore spectatorship and the culturally-inscripted body within our ever-growing world of fluid borders and hybrid identities. My work challenges traditional learning paradigms, inviting personal and fractured narratives as a catalyst to examine the notion of self and other within an autobiographical and collective storying process. Fusing my art practice and research, I have created research characters which I have inhabited performatively for 10 years. These characters tell stories of others through dance/theatre improvisations, and with a variety of costumes and physical traits, they move through unchartered landscapes of potent metaphors creating ecosystem of meaning-making whereby the character becomes a mere catalyst opposed to central subject. As a result, the performer surrenders to a process of collective creation and interpretation removing the individuated authority to the event. The power of absolute narratives recedes and what is replaced is what Merleau-Ponty (as cited in McCann, 1993) calls a co-mingling of readings and meanings resulting in a collective space of reciprocity and deep listening. My interest is to find imaginative, playful ways of generating catalysts for new understandings of sometimes-difficult information such as isolation or detachment.

Nané Jordan


Life writing is a qualitative, arts-based educational inquiry method and practice that explores lived stories through the artful craft of writing. Life writers are encouraged to tell their own stories and to listen to others’ through empathetic, relational inquiries. The craft of story-sharing can promote greater self-awareness and understanding by paying close attention to what matters in our daily lives. My chapter unfolds from the field of life writing by walking with inner and outer footsteps of my research travels and experiences. I engage in non-fiction creative writing and reflection on questions of the heart, particularly on the lived meanings and impacts of mothering, family and home-making in my life.

Kate Greenway


How does arts-based research contribute not only to academic knowledge, but to empathy, imagination and community making? As an arts educator and researcher I have naturally employed artistic methodologies at the centre of my work. In The brooch of Bergen Belsen: A journey of historiographic poiesis, I explore a single aesthetic experience, an encounter with a small hand-made floral cloth brooch donated to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. At the start of my inquiry I had only the object – the brooch itself – my emotional reaction to it, and the few lines of text on a curated museum card. I wondered, how do we create “spaces for remembrance,” and what are the implications for teaching, learning and living in a just society? In my later dissertation Ephemera: The searchings of an adopted daughter, I examine the wound that comes from being an adoptee in the era of secrecy and closed records. I argue that the absence of adoptive representation in public consciousness can be addressed by the artistic re-visioning of adoption, to give voice to unheard/untold stories.

In both projects, the finding and making of art and the non-traditional research trajectory which spans disciplines moves beyond the theoretical, and it employs elements of poetry and imaginative fiction, auto-ethnography and a/r/tography which creates a rich and layered examination. Arts-based research methodologies have allowed me to merge the scholar and artist, to engage in research as an iterative process where deeper questions engender more complex and embodied responses, and create open, dialogic texts and artworks that provoke new understandings of narratives previously overlooked.