Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

The Visual Journal as an Image Sphere: Interpreting Artworks with an Anamorphic Perspective

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

The Visual Journal as an Image Sphere: Interpreting Artworks with an Anamorphic Perspective

Article excerpt

As part of an in-depth study of art students becoming art teachers, I adopted the conceptual approach of fa/7draum (described in the next section) to interpret the value, essence, and aesthetic aspects of artmaking during a year-long teacher education program. Invoking the concept of bildraum in art education arguably provides an opening where we may dwell to bring forward alternate perspectives about becoming a teacher. Building upon the dissemination of this research, I add another dimension to this discussion by engaging with artworks through an anamorphic lens to demonstrate how visual art may be understood in relation to teacher culture. Artworks function as material expressions and offer a way to trace understandings of lived experiences in university classrooms and in field assignments.

I initiated this study with a methodological framework of grounded theory (Creswell, 1 998). According to the procedures of grounded theory, theory emerges out of data (Mason, 1 998). As a researcher, I followed the directions of participants throughout the study rather than impose my view, and as a result, theoretical understandings emerged from the situated knowledge of preservice teachers. Although I began with six volunteer student teachers at the outset, three withdrew at different points over the course of 1 year due to personal and professional reasons. Three student teachers completed the study, and based on extensive interviews, visual art, and related sources of Information such as e-mails, this research began to take shape. The scope and depth of data generated through grounded theory has brought forward distinct and multiple dimensions of artworks. Interpretations emerged from data, and consistent with grounded theory, it was then that theoretical lenses were considered.

For this article, I focus on understanding visual art practice by one student teacher, Nathalie. Nathalie's contemporary art practice was especially noteworthy for her ongoing engagement in questions of identity and place within teacher culture, and her ability to express visually and textually transformative moments during her teacher education program. My review is guided by several questions: Does Nathalie's visual journal capture the convergence of art and teaching? Are renderings literal, metaphorical, or both? What does Nathalie's collection of artworks reveal about teacher culture? This article is informed by cultural critic Walter Benjamin (1968, 1999) as well as by philosophical discussions about the construction of sight and seeing. In this research, teacher culture is defined as a socialization experience involving the daily routines of teachers; how teachers develop their beliefs and values; and how teacher relationships reflect institutional structures (Sinner, 2010). The shared traditions of teacher culture shaped the ways Nathalie enacted and embodied the role of teacher, and this was reinforced through ongoing practices in classrooms and in the field that often challenged her notions of an evolving professional identity. With this understanding of teacher culture, I turned to Nathalie's visual journal and entered a discussion of art practice as research.

Bildraum: Entering the Artworks of a Preservice Teacher

Bildraum, literally translated, is a picture room or "image sphere," and as a "regime of vision," this concept has interdisciplinary application in fields of mathematics, philosophy, computing, the sciences, and the arts (Comay, 1997, p. 340). In this study, a bildraum constitutes a realm of consciousness where we enter into the intimate world of the artist by engaging with a collection of artworks that place the creator at the core to generate insights based on lived experiences and to create knowledge through the act of making art. Applying bildraum as a pictorial method in a contemporary context is a means to develop a representational "stream of becoming" within arts inquiry (Comay, 1997, p. 356). I explore how Nathalie's visual journal functions as an image sphere where her 'stream of becoming' is traced visually as a transformation from a student to a teacher. …

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