Looking Back, around, and Forward

By Carpenter, B. Stephen, II | Art Education, July 2006 | Go to article overview

Looking Back, around, and Forward


Carpenter, B. Stephen, II, Art Education


I tried to keep a daily journal a few times when I was in high school but it never worked. I took notes for classes in spiral bound notebooks and occasionally wrote thoughts or concerns in the margins.

Later, when I was in college, I recorded my class notes in similar spiral notebooks hut filled sketchbooks with my artmaking notes and sketches. I do not have my undergraduate course notebooks anymore, but I still have my artmaking sketchbooks, livery so often I dig them out of a cardboard box in my studio, flip through a few pages, and attempt to recall where I was, what I was doing, and what was important to me at the time. Such reflection is a personal, internal exchange.

External reflections provide additional insights that are unavailable to exclusively internal reflection. In fact, we engage in this type of reflection all of the time. We might think of such encounters as community reflections. One particularly meaningful community reflection occurred after I made a presentation at a conference. Several of my friends were in the audience and in the moments after the presentation, one friend, Christine, commented on an aspect of my presentation that 1 did not see myself. She observed that in my discussion about the immersive computer technology in the television series Kim Possible, I addressed issues of gender, race, and sexual stereotypes quite superficially in comparison to my more substantive and theoretical focus on the technology. Ironically, she helped me see that the case I was making could have been much stronger had I addressed more critically the issues of gender, racial, and sexual stereotypes embedded within the show. In short, she reminded me that analysis of visual culture and works of art must always include examinations through these and other perspectives of diversity. Our discussion that day turned into a community reflection and her words have helped guide my personal reflection about my writing and presentations ever since.

In the process of selecting articles for this issue of the journal, I realized that the authors all examine various aspects of personal and community reflection. This realization triggered in my mind that important public reflection at the conference years ago. As a result, I decided to engage in a public reflection with my friend. Christine, about the process of reflection. In a telephone conversation she observed, "Reflection does not always come from a personal space; important reflection also comes from a community space. When yon take reflection from personal to community spaces you offer important opportunities for change and reaction." (Christine Ballengee-Morris, personal communication March 10, 2006). Grounded in personal and community reflection,"change and reaction" result from meaningful cultural work, artmaking, and meaning making as critical acts of cultural exploration. …

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