Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

The Women Lament: Unraveling the "I" in Arts Research

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

The Women Lament: Unraveling the "I" in Arts Research

Article excerpt

A Jewish Woman Laments for Kansas City: Passover and Easter, 2014

Aman opened fire at a Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Kansas City the day before Erev Passover, 2014, killing a grandfather, William Corporon, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Underwood, who were visiting the JCC for a music audition Next the man drove to a nearby Jewish retirement community and killed his third victim, Terri LaManno, who was visiting a relative at the facility When arrested by police at the retirement community, he yelled from the police car, "Heil Hitler!" (Yaccino & Barry, 2015) All three of his victims were Christians

He. The man with the gun that took fire at a JCC and Jewish Retirement Community and killed three Christians has no name here He has no image. Hate S/He has many names and many faces

In The New York Times (2014) Yaccino and Barry reported on the shooter's history as the founder of a Ku Klux Klan Organization in North Carolina, his long history of racist and antiSemitic propaganda and rallies, and his position paper on doing "whatever is necessary" to break the "Jewish control" of the media (p A1) He repeatedly encouraged his followers on the "hate videos" on his website to get "Jew-wise" and for "Whiteys" to stop being "cowards to blacks" (Miller, n d ) The New York Times reported that the murders would be pursued as federal hate crimes (Yaccino & Barry, 2014)

The shooter said he found his calling the day his father handed him an anti-Semitic newsletter I imagine his father handing him a new baseball or movie tickets instead What he could have learned if he had not grown in the soil of hate

When I visited his website, I trembled as my hands led me through the desert The calmness in his voice stomped the breath from my lungs; his presence in my home and his voice in my room left an inch of soot on every surface, that I now cannot clean off, no matter how hard I try

I first read the story of the Kansas City JCC shootings on my computer the morning I was about to drive into a Columbus, Ohio, predominantly Jewish neighborhood to buy groceries for Passover The synagogues I passed along the way looked as they always did, not a single sign or marker of the impending holiday Passover is a time of celebration, and I still felt the anticipation of the festivities; but I also noticed myself watching... watching for him, for one of his friends... watching for another him or her As I entered the parking lot, I could hear the whisper echo through my mind, invisible hatred like mustard gas as if I was standing in that JCC parking lot in Kansas City: Heil Hitler! The sound of grocery carts clanging made me want to duck for cover That is fear's victory So, I stood and waited I watched the people walking into the store, unloading their groceries, putting on their children's seatbelts, talking with friends I shopped for Passover

As the media coverage trickled in, leaving fragments forming a quilt that provided no warmth, I was left wondering how to dress this wound that was forming within me as I mourned for these families, mourned for the Jewish community, and mourned over the effects of a hatred so insidious that it strangulates I wrapped my own arms around myself, pulling upon my spiritual base and the spiritual base of the victims rather than seeing through the eyes of hatred, and I was first reminded of the coming together through tragic circumstance-of Kaddish (the Jewish Prayer of Mourning), Shiva (the 7 days of mourning following burial), Passover (the 8-day holiday celebrating the liberation of the Israelites from Slavery), Easter (the resurrection of Christ), and women's laments However, as I read the newspapers and Internet sites throughout the 8 days of Passover and the 7 days of Shiva, I encountered the stories and faces of other lamenting women It was through these encounters, these juxtapositions, this choir of multiple voices, that I began to create what follows and learned to step aside, The Women Lament (2014)

The Women Lament is a multi-media, performative piece of both poetic and visual arts, that explores my encounters with other lamenting women through my collection of newspapers and Internet news images and articles for the 8 days of Passover that coincided with the 7 days of Shiva and Easter Through these encounters with other lamenting women, a chorus assembled-sometimes harmonious, sometimes dissonant, but most importantly, multifaceted and multivocal Through this work, I was moved from my initial exploration of a personal lament to the broader exploration of the role of the lamenting woman: one lamenting challenging personal, social, cultural, and political tragedies, in regard to her social construction as well as her visual culture

It is in this way that a piece that began with my dressing of a personal wound grew to create a space for a larger group of wounded women and to address the question of why women become the face of social, cultural, political, and personal tragedies in public discourse As arts research, this article has two intersecting goals First, through performance, installation and discourse analysis, I explore the lamenting woman in regard to her visual, social, political, and cultural constructions Second, I employ and advocate for a process I call unraveling the "I," which focuses on highlighting the artmaking process as integral to arts research and destabilizing the narrating subject through an ongoing process of critical inquiry in the writing of arts research

Unraveling the "I" in Arts Research

Art educators have made important advances in advocating for arts as research (Barone & Eisner, 2012; Cahnmann-Taylor & Siegesmund, 2008; Gouzouasis, Irwin, Leggo, & Springgay, 2008; Sullivan, 2005) and in employing creative writing methodologically and artistically as part of arts research (Bhattacharya, 2008; Gosse, 2008; Jenoure, 2008; Jones/Olomo, 2008; Kusserow, 2008; Leggo, 2008; Lyons, 2008; Rolling, 2003; Saldaña, 2008) What I suggest in this article is a way to extend work already being done in art education, paying particular attention to highlighting the artmaking process and destabilizing the narrating subject through a creative and critical approach to the writing of arts research Rather than the "I" narrating one experience of the artwork, how can "I" be questioned through the writing itself and multiple experiences of the artwork emerge? …

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