Becoming a Visually Reflective Practitioner
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Becoming a Visually Reflective Practitioner

An Integrated Self-Study Model for Professional Practice

Sheri R. Klein, Kathy Marzilli Miraglia

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eBook - ePub

Becoming a Visually Reflective Practitioner

An Integrated Self-Study Model for Professional Practice

Sheri R. Klein, Kathy Marzilli Miraglia

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About This Book

Professional practice is increasingly becoming more complex, demanding, dynamic and diverse. This important and original new book considers how self-study using arts-based methods can enable purposeful reflection toward understanding and envisioning professional practice. Ideally for visual arts practitioners on all levels, this book presents a self-study model grounded in compelling research that highlights arts-based methods for examining four areas of professional practice: professional identities, work cultures, change and transitions and envisioning new pathways.

Chapters address the components of the self-study model, artistic methods and materials, and strategies for interpreting self-study written and visual outcomes with the aim of goal setting. Each chapter includes visuals, references and end-of-chapter prompts to engage readers in critical and visual reflection. Appendices offer resources and guidelines for creating and assessing self-study outcomes.

The fluctuating nature of professional practice necessitates the pursuit of discernment and clarity that can be achieved through an ongoing reflective practice. Self-study is a systematic and flexible methodology for purposeful reflection on professional practice that embraces dialogic, interpretive, rhizomatic and visual inquiry. Self-study can occur at any level of practice and in the context of work-related professional development, formal study or as a self-initiated inquiry. An arts-based self-study model for visual arts practitioners is explored and focuses on four intersectional components shaping professional practice: professional identities, work cultures and communities, transition and change within professional practice and envisioning new pathways for professional practice.

The self-study model is grounded in contemporary theory, practice and compelling research, and embraces robust strategies for understanding the complexities of professional practice that can include dual, multiple, overlapping, hybrid and conflicting professional identities, tensions within work cultures and unexpected changes within professional practice. Each chapter focuses on a component of the self-study model and an area of professional practice, concluding with references and end-of-chapter prompts that are aimed to facilitate critical reflection-on-practice and the creation of written and visual responses.

With visual arts practitioners in mind, various arts-based methods for self-study are discussed that highlight visual journaling as a key method for engaging in self-study. Interpretive research methods are discussed to guide readers in understanding the phases and processes for interpreting written and visual self-study outcomes. Processes are outlined to help readers determine key insights, themes, issues and questions from their self-study outcomes, how to use them in formulating new questions and articulating new professional goals. Several levels for interpretation are presented to offer readers options relative to their professional needs and aims.

Throughout the text, charts and visuals serve to summarize and visualize key chapter points. Images by visual arts practitioners appear throughout the text and represent a wide range of artistic media, methods and approaches appropriate for self-study. The appendices provide additional resources for enhanced understanding of chapter concepts and key terms, guidelines and rubrics for writing reflections, creating visual responses and using a visual journal in the self-study process.

Primary readership will be visual arts practitioners at all levels. Ideal for university level graduate courses or as a guide for individuals and small groups of practitioners who seek to engage in arts-based self-study as professional development.

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Framework and Components of a Self-Study Model for Visual Arts Practitioners
The focus of this chapter is to expand on the framework and components of the self-study model that is inclusive of arts-based methods and a variety of thinking processes with the aims of multidirectional, imaginative, and flexible thinking about professional practice. The theoretical underpinnings of the self-study model are grounded in the numerous intersecting domains discussed in the Introduction and throughout this text—all of which support reflexivity, dialogue, connectivity, and creativity. While the components of the self-study model are individually discussed, in practice they are relational and evolve in rhizomatic and nonlinear ways (Deleuze and Guatarri 1987). Thus, a visual arts practitioner’s self-study inquiry may be akin to a “nomad’s venture—[of] movement, discovery, and sought after places offering potential for new perspectives” (Charney 2017: 42). In consideration of these potentials, rhizomatic principles are discussed relative to the self-study model. The four core components of the self-study model are outlined followed by a discussion of the various integrated methods applicable to the self-study process.
Rhizomatic principles applied to the self-study model
Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) metaphor of rhizomes is a lens to understand how professional practice as a whole can be dynamic, complex, unpredictable, multidirectional and resilient. Rhizomes are defined as plant growths characterized by lateral shoots and with offshoots that can grow in any direction in an “acentric non-hierarchical network of entangled and knotted loops folding and growing through multiple sites of entry” (de Freitas 2012: 588). Rhizomatic thinking, as explained by Deleuze and Guattari (1987) describes the way that ideas can be interconnected and generative. In this sense, professional practice as rhizomatic is a continuously adapting and generative system of practice. Of critical importance to the self-study process and model are the rhizomatic principles of multiplicity, rupture, lines of flight, and assemblage (Deleuze and Guattari 1987). Multiplicity refers to the “random and multi-directional aspect of growth” (Charney 2017: 11) that can occur within the life of a professional practice. Rupture describes the breakage of pathways or connections within or between areas of professional practice that may occur at any time, and particularly, at transitional points. Rupture, however, does not mean loss. If, for example, “the rhizome [that is, professional practice] is ruptured at any point in two pieces, the two pieces would grow along the lines of rupture and regenerate themselves” (Senagala 1998: 3). Lines of flight describe new thoughts or professional paths “with the capacity to extend ideas in new directions” (Charney 2017: 11). Assemblage refers to a process of gathering, adding, and combining often-unrelated things, objects, or ideas. Relative to professional practice, assemblage can explain how a professional practice is “a constantly changing assemblage of forces and expectations” (Stagoll 2005: 27 in MacDonald 2014: 234) and where practice is formed, and re-formed, as a result of unexpected or random events.
Four core components of professional practice and the self-study model
The four areas of professional practice and self-study are discussed to elucidate each area of the self-study model recognizing that in practice they are relational, evolving, interconnected, and rhizomatically networked. As practitioners move back and forth between, and in-between, the spaces of professional practice, professional practice may be understood as “unfolding experiences” and a “process of becoming” (MacDonald 2014: 15–16).
Figure 1.1 is a collage of drawings representing the four areas of professional practice and the self-study model that is suggestive of the rhizomatic, expansive, and fluid nature of professional practice. Working with photocopies, and relying on intuition (Bosch 1996), several versions of the model were drawn and combined; areas of the drawings were randomly placed in a process of selection and regrouping to allow for new patterns and rhizomatic lines of flight.
A black and white collage comprised of overlapping torn and cut papers with design of multidirectional linear patterning suggestive of rhizomes and rhizomatic growth.
Figure 1.1: Sheri R. Klein, Rhizomatic Collage of Self-Study Model, 2020. Collage of ink drawings. Courtesy of artist.
Figure 1.2 is a digitally enhanced version of Figure 1.1 and was created by a digital tracing of the edges and contours of the collage. The notion of tracing has relevance for professional practice for it is through reflection that pathways of practice can be retraced to gain new configurations and insights.
A light grey-colored digitally created image using a scanned image of the overlapping and torn and cut paper collage from Figure 1.1. with designs of multidirectional linear patterning.
Figure 1.2: Sheri R. Klein, Tracings, 2020. Digitally enhanced collage. Courtesy of artist.
Professional identity. Professional identity is central to professional practice and is shaped by many variables and intersectional factors (Crenshaw 1991; Klein and Diket 2018; Ropers-Huilman and Winters 2010) that are further discussed in Chapter 3. Many of the variables shaping professional identity may be understood to fluctuate and influence in varying degrees and at varying times. Some variables may be important at one stage of a professional practice, but not at another stage. Fluctuations to professional identities may also occur due to unforeseen events in one’s personal and professional life that result in changes to a professional practice.
The complexity of professional identity formation requires an understanding of the kinds of identities associated with visual arts practitioners, such as hybrid, multiple, overlapping, and shifting professional identities. The exploration of professional identity also addresses identity change and dissonance; how, why, and when it occurs; and the roles of communities in shaping professional identities.
Work cultures. This component of the self-study model highlights the relationships between individuals and the collective (i.e., communities and organizations) and places in which visual arts practitioners engage in professional practice. Intersectionality and social identity theory (Crenshaw 1991; Klein and Diket 2018; Ropers-Huilman and Winters 2010) inform understanding of the roles of work cultures and climates, group tension, group cohesion, and mentoring in influencing personal, group and cultural, as well as professional identities. These complex dimensions of work cultures are addressed in Chapter 4.
Change. Uncertainty and change are part of every professional practice and experienced as a result of both expected and unexpected events. Some potent areas for self-study are the spaces of professional practice where vulnerability and uncertainty exist. Understanding the qualities and components of change can be helpful in working through changes that impact professional practice. Strategies for navigating change are offered in Chapter 5 with the aim of developing a reflective, flexible, resilient, and hopeful stance toward professional practice in the face of change.
Envisioning professional practice. Envisioning new pathways for professional practice is part of an ongoing process of inquiry and reflection. Self-study can assist visual arts practitioners in envisioning new practices through the interpretation of self-study artefacts that can yield new insights, questions, and lines of flight. Looking more closely at specific areas of practice that are exciting and invigorating as well as at those areas that may feel confusing, stagnant, or uncertain can lead to the cultivation of new insights, questions, paths, and goals. Strategies and methods for interpreting self-study artefacts are discussed in Chapter 6. Strategies for using findings from the interpretation process toward envisioning professional practice are discussed in Chapter 7.
Integrated methods for self-study
Arts-based methods, media, and approaches. Arts-based research, as the application of “artistic approaches to qualitative inquiry” (Wang et al. 2017: 7), embraces the role and identity of the “artist-researcher” who uses “artistically inspired methods or approaches” and/or where the “role of qualitative researcher and artist are fully blended” (Wang et al. 2017: 10). We recognize that users of this book may align with one ...

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