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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.

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.

Pauline Sameshima, Sean Wiebe and Michael T. Hayes


The arrival of post-qualitative arts methodologies is unsurprisingly a critique of the metanarratives that have reduced the complexity of methodology to the instrumentalism of the methodical. Locating their work in the theoretically innovative post-qualitative, the authors affirm imagination as method. They detail how in the creative moment(s) of making there is not only a positive entanglement of the researchers’ relational constructions of knowing, knowledge, the self, and the world; but also a recognition of moral obligation. Because the content of what is imagined is both within and beyond shared perceptions, imagination as method can be detailed and precise; it can be coherent, informative, convincing, even compelling action, but it is always imaginative – and this is its promise for post-qualitative research. The authors suggest that a politics of the imagination turns away from the source of contention to generate new networks and systems of social relationships: it is not a resistance but a making. As a political imagination, research is the generative poiesis that emerges through and within specific acts of creation and generation. An example of a collaborative poetry writing practice is used to demonstrate imagination as method and to fractal the notions of value-creation, meaning-making, and imaginative play within the Canadian arts education research context.

Yoriko Gillard


I believe in art as life, and creativity as a life work; I have been living creatively to communicate with people. How can we understand each other through art and its practice? This question has taken me to many places in the past and has sparked my research. As I am an immigrant, student, teacher, researcher, poet, and visual artist, my role and way of connecting with society is to keep asking myself, “How can I relate myself to the hardships, pain, struggles, and grief of others to gain their trust?” Since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, I have become more aware of the responsibilities I have to serve society and what I am capable of. Creating events to gather people from different cultures and backgrounds to think about life is part of my research practice. In 2015, the two major earthquakes hit Nepal and my colleague was asking for help through intercampus email. Recognizing the scale of this disaster, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to help a local community that I knew was grieving the loss of life and culture. We then started our dialogues to help heal their grief. In July 2015, we organized five fundraising educational events to support immigrants of Nepal in B.C. to raise awareness of the effect of the tragic events. At these events, KIZUNA 1 : Gather for Nepal, we cried, talked, hugged, sang, danced, and prayed together. There were mothers, children, students, teachers, musicians, artists, and poets all gathered to share their feelings at the events.

Bernard W. Andrews


This chapter formulates an alternate approach to seeking knowledge based on a melding of oral and literate traditions with that of the technologies of the electronic field. Patterns of Western thinking characterized by objectivity, the separation of parts into wholes, and the organization of hierarchical structures can no longer operate in isolation from the realities of the modem age. The electronic field has created a global village where many of the traits of oral cultures have resurfaced, such as immediacy, spontaneity and holism that have created a new dynamic in the workplace and in our nation’s schools. In our research, we need to ensure that we produce new knowledge through systematic inquiry that is both relevant to practitioners and significant for the development of the education profession in a changing and dynamic world. Responsive inquiry offers the potential for addressing this need. This research strategy operates at a meta-cognitive level and re-conceptualizes the multi-dimensional as a unified whole. It offers researchers a coherent method to respond to educational challenges and impact on the field in a significant way.

Sajani (Jinny) Menon


Amidst the diverse worlds (Lugones, 1987) we traverse, inhabit, and live within, traditional epistemic and ontological considerations can privilege certain ways of knowing and being whereupon hegemonic narratives may become perpetually fashioned. The corollary is then, an (un)intentional neglect of other stories. Likewise, stories patterned along stereotypical lines (Adichie, 2009) can become sites of default when (dis)engaging with a multiplicity of voices and more worrisomely, an excuse employed by some, to dehumanize. Drawing upon my experiences as a Canadian South Asian female doctoral student, engaging in the ethical and relational methodology of narrative inquiry, I ruminate upon certain curriculum-making experiences (Huber, Murphy, & Clandinin, 2011) with voice and query how to go about humanely imparting voice. Framing reminiscences and musings as storied swatches, I autobiographically share pivotal moments leading up to my art-making choice of stitching a story cloth to communicate and re-present knowledge in one university course. These curriculum-making encounters (amongst others) composed of narratively thinking and art-making (Menon, 2015) continue to interweave my understandings of educational research and what it means to be a researcher learning alongside co-participants. Inviting for the potentiality of arts (Caine & Steeves, 2009) within narrative inquiry may work to unravel borders between the You and I, and Us and Them positioning that can shape everyday interactions. This chapter purposely advocates for an enhanced openness to heterogeneous meaning-making processes and re-presentations of knowledge. In doing so, the hope is to metaphorically stitch heart-full ways of communicating, learning, and being alongside one another.