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Community-based art making : examining the experience of the artist, participants, and audience in the.. Tien, Laurel Anne 2003

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Community-based Art Making: Examining the Experience of the Artist, Participants, and Audience in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project by Laurel Anne Tien BScN, University of Toronto, 1989  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Curriculum Studies: Art Education)  We a c c e p t this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA © Laurel Anne Tien, 2003  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a n a d v a n c e d d e g r e e at the University of British C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e that the Library shall m a k e it freely a v a i l a b l e for r e f e r e n c e a n d study. I further a g r e e that permission for extensive c o p y i n g of this thesis for scholarly purposes m a y b e g r a n t e d by the h e a d of m y d e p a r t m e n t or b y his or her representatives. It is u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g or p u b l i c a t i o n of this thesis for f i n a n c i a l g a i n shall not b e a l l o w e d without m y written permission.  D e p a r t m e n t of C u r r i c u l u m Studies The University of British C o l u m b i a Vancouver, C a n a d a  Date  ^UA^V  ^  3  Abstract The purpose of this research was to investigate the experience of a specific collaborative art making project for the participants, a u d i e n c e a n d myself, as the artist. The research, consisting of two overlapping phases, was c o n d u c t e d using a series of descriptive case studies. Phase one of the study consisted of the art project itself. Phase two examined the experience of the w o m e n involved in the project, the 'audience' of the work, a n d myself as the artist. Insights into the experience of community-based art making projects suggest important implications. Themes included the notion of mothering as a political act a n d the realization that art making outside of the cultural norm is expensive, undervalued a n d requires extensive networking skills. Because this form of art making has not b e e n traditionally valued, there is a paucity of related research describing the impact of this genre of art making on those involved. This thesis is built upon the belief that examining these experiences will both celebrate community-based art making a n d facilitate dialogue that may encourage a n d validate this type of work, ultimately to be able to e n h a n c e artistic practice in art education a n d to facilitate art education curricula that incorporate community-based art making practice.  Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents Hi Acknowledgements v Chapter 1 Introduction to the Research Problem a n d to the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project 1 Terminology 1 Research Questions 2 Why was this research significant for me? 3 Introducing the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project 3 Chapter 2 Review of the Literature 9 Extended Breastfeeding 9 Multiple Ways of Knowing 13 Community-based Art Making 18 Artistic Practice as Way of Knowing 21 Chapter 3 Study Design a n d Methodology 24 Selection of Participants 26 Data Collection 26 Timelines 27 Role of Researcher 28 Data Analysis 29 Reporting the Data 30 Limitations 30 Chapter 4 Presenting the Data 32 Profiles of the Experiences of the Participants 32 Kathy a n d Lee 32 Farah a n d Zubin 35 Leanne a n d Oliver 38 Nerissa a n d Waverley 41 Heather a n d Clem 44 Sheryl a n d J a c o b 46 Erica a n d Kea 50 Keri a n d Riley 52 Jennifer 53 Narrative Reflections of the Experiences of the Artist 55 Tangible Artworks 55 Finding an Audience 57 Personal versus Professional 60 Impact of Images 61 Narrative Reflections of the Experiences of the Audience 63 Chapter 5 Interpretations, Discussion, a n d Conclusions 66  Interpretations Participants Artist Audience Discussion Chapter 6 Summary a n d Implications Was this project successful? Why is this research significant for Art Education? Application to Art Education Teaching Practice Suggestions for Further Research Overall Summary References Appendices A: Consent Form B: Interview Questions C : Invitation to Potential Participants  66 66 68 70 71 74 74 74 75 77 78 80 87 87 89 90  List of Images Image 1: Kathy a n d Lee Image 2: Postcard Front for Farah a n d Zubin Image 3: Postcard Front for Leanne a n d Oliver Image 4: Nerissa a n d Waverley Image 5: Blurred Image of Heather a n d Clem Image 6: Sheryl a n d J a c o b Image 7: Postcard Front for Erica a n d Kea Image 8: Postcard Front for Keri a n d Riley Image 9: Postcard Back Image 10: W e b p a g e H o m e p a g e Image 11: Newspaper Article on the Breastfeeding Challenge Image 12: Postcard Front for Laurel, Diane Jean a n d Noah  33 35 39 42 44 47 50 52 57 58 59 62  Acknowledgements  This art project a n d thesis has b e e n a wonderful learning experience. I would not have been able to d o this project without the enthusiasm a n d trust of e a c h of the w o m e n who participated. Your strength a n d support was essential to making the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project h a p p e n . I would like to thank the members of my committee, Dr Rita Irwin, Dr Kit Grauer, a n d especially my graduate advisor, Dr G r a e m e Chalmers. I value the kind a n d generous f e e d b a c k e a c h of you has given me through this process, as well as your patience as I worked my way through the various versions of the thesis draft. To my parents; I thank you for instilling in me the love of learning a n d the motivation to continually better myself. To my husband, Darren; I thank you for your involvement in a n d unwavering support of all phases of this project. To my children, Diane Jean a n d Noah; I hope I have b e e n able to role model for you what being an active mother-researcher-artisteducator is all a b o u t - a n d how empowering it c a n be!  Chapter 1 Introduction to the Research Problem and to the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project  This thesis describes my own involvement in a n art making project, that seeks to create dialogue on the notion of extended breastfeeding with a number of breastfeeding mothers. The research, consisting of two overlapping phases, was c o n d u c t e d using a series of descriptive case studies. Phase o n e of the study consisted of do-ing, or operationalizing the art project itself. Phase two examined the experience of nine of the w o m e n involved in the project a n d of myself as the artist, as well as experiences in presenting the work to audiences. Because communitybased art making has not traditionally b e e n valued, there is only a small amount of related research describing the impact of this genre of art making on those involved. This thesis is built upon the belief that examining these experiences will help to validate a n d celebrate community-based art making, as well as to contribute to the dialogue in art education on the integral nature of artistic practice in art education a n d on the incorporation of community-based or socially-based art making practice in art education curricula.  Terminology  In this document, the term community-based art making is used. Community-based art making is defined as a method of artistic  production that engages professional artists a n d self-defined communities in collective collaborative methods of artistic expression. In communitybased art making, the process of community dialogue used in developing a n d defining the project in the community are of equal value to the artistic outcome (City of Surrey, 2003).  Research Questions  This research was facilitated by three research questions; 1) What is the participants' experience in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project? (i.e. how they b e c a m e involved; highlights of our meetings; significant follow-up; reflection from mom of why she chose to collaborate; process of creating image; impact of actual images on participant) 2) What is the artist's experience in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project? (i.e. process of creating image; impact of actual images on myself; reflections my experiences in the project) 3) What was the viewer/audience/society's experience in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project? (i.e. What would h a p p e n if images a n d stories of mothers who chose to breastfeed past one year of a g e were more readily available in our society? Would this raise consciousness about this issue (known as extended breastfeeding)?  2  W o u l d it c r e a t e a l a n g u a g e t o b e a b l e t o d i s c u s s t h e b e n e f i t s a n d c h a l l e n g e s o f e x t e n d e d b r e a s t f e e d i n g ? W o u l d it e n c o u r a g e m o t h e r s a n d t h e i r f a m i l i e s t o m a k e a m o r e fully i n f o r m e d d e c i s i o n ? )  Why was this research significant for me? This p r o j e c t w a s a n i n t e n s e l y p e r s o n a l o n e . M y initial i n t e n t i o n s w e r e n o t a c a d e m i c , p e r s a y , b u t b a s e d o n p u r s u i n g a c o m m u n i t y - b a s e d art p r o j e c t t h a t I c o u l d o p e r a t i o n a l i z e in m y e v e r y d a y life. I c h o s e t o r e s e a r c h this p r o j e c t a f t e r r e a d i n g t h e o r y a b o u t c o m m u n i t y - b a s e d art a n d a f t e r e x p e r i e n c i n g g r a s s r o o t s art a d v o c a c y in m y e v e r y d a y life, w h e r e I b e g a n t o h a v e q u e s t i o n s a b o u t t h e c h a l l e n g e s a n d b e n e f i t s o f p u r s u i n g this k i n d o f a r t m a k i n g . M y w o r s t f e a r w i t h r e s e a r c h i n g this p r o j e c t w a s t h a t t h e focus w o u l d b e t a k e n a w a y from the project, a w a y from p r a c t i c e a n d o n t o t h e o r y . In f a c t , m y initial d r a f t o f this thesis w a s a n a t t e m p t t o objectively a n d theoretically e x a m i n e the Normalizing Breastfeeding P r o j e c t , s o m u c h s o t h a t I lost t h e spirit o f t h e p r o j e c t . I b e l i e v e this v e r s i o n o f t h e d o c u m e n t b a l a n c e s t h e spirit o f t h e p r o j e c t w i t h t h e t h e o r y a n d research aspects.  Introducing the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project In t h e Fall o f 2000,1 a t t e n d e d a series o f p a r e n t i n g w o r k s h o p s o r g a n i z e d b y t h e l o c a l p u b l i c h e a l t h unit. A t t h o s e sessions I e x p e r i e n c e d 3  a collaborative a n d supportive information sharing group on the topic of parenting issues related to the toddler phase. At o n e session, my then twenty-month old daughter asked to breastfeed. Not thinking much about it, w e b e g a n to nurse. I noticed a small c h a n g e in the room...not discomfort, per se, but a definite c h a n g e in the atmosphere of the group. I pondered this for several weeks, discussing the scenario with other nursing moms. I reviewed my personal beliefs a n d the research available on the benefits/challenges/cultural issues on breastfeeding for longer than o n e year. Although the research indicates nursing until at least two years old is best for both mother a n d child (e.g. Dettwyler, 1995; Granju, 1999; La Leche League, 1997), this is seen in our western culture as being abnormal. Women who choose to practice what is know as "extended breastfeeding" exist in large numbers, but tend to g o 'underground'. I started to wonder what would h a p p e n if images a n d stories of mothers w h o choose to breastfeed past o n e year of a g e were more readily available in our society. Would this raise consciousness about extended breastfeeding a n d encourage more mothers to make a more informed decision? And what were my reasons for doing this as a n artist? As a mother? And as a citizen a n d registered nurse interested in overall community wellness? Originally I chose to explore this project as a n independent artist, to  explore a n d respond to a n area that I a m trying to learn more about, as well as to celebrate mothers w h o practice extended breastfeeding by facilitating the telling of their stories through image a n d text. Initial discussions with Sandra Semchuk, a photo-based artist a n d faculty member at Emily Carr Institute of Art a n d Design were helpful in delineating a focus a n d process. It was with the support a n d encouragement of my graduate supervisor, Dr G r a e m e Chalmers, that I chose to pursue this project for my MA thesis. It seemed a logical c h o i c e as it allowed me to explore the experience a n d impact of do-ing this kind of art making project; on myself as the artist, on the participants in the project, a n d on society/people viewing the project. In this project, art would b e used to create a context for dialogue a n d as a n artist, I would b e c o m e a n educator and advocate  through the art work.  In June 2001 after obtaining approval from the UBC Ethics Committee, I 'officially' started the project by contacting local moms a n d agencies who were somehow linked to extended breastfeeding. Many of the contacts have c o m e through other nursing mothers by word of mouth. My purpose was always to collaborate with a group of w o m e n who practice extended breastfeeding; to facilitate the w o m e n telling their stories. It was integral that the participants take a n equal part in decisions around the composition a n d content of the images, a n d that  these images could have b e e n about any aspect that they felt celebrated them as a breastfeeding mother (i.e. did not h a v e to include images of the actual breastfeeding). An important part of the process was to create a visual a n d narrative language--to inject these images a n d narratives into the public realm. I felt that using non-traditional exhibition spaces were the most effective; for example posters in bus shelters a n d billboards, postcards, as well as more contemplative public spaces.  Collaborative Process When I first started talking with moms about how they would like to be a part of the project, lots of ideas circulated about ways they a n d other moms could be involved. Workshops? Giving the moms disposable cameras? Giving the children disposable cameras? How could I as the artist facilitate the moms a n d children telling their own stories? In the e n d I m a d e the decision to perform most of the work myself, mostly due to f e e d b a c k from the first group of mothers I canvassed about ideas of how to pursue the project. These mothers had indicated that due to financial a n d time constraints of mothers with young children, having the artist take the images a n d transcribe the narratives would b e a n asset. I was also c o n c e r n e d about the extra finances n e e d e d to pursue a study with more cameras, film a n d other materials, as well as renting s p a c e for group  meetings. After these informal chats with the initial moms, I invited other w o m e n to participate through invitations (see appendix C) p l a c e d in agencies a n d groups where breastfeeding mothers attend. Interested persons were given the opportunity to discuss the project a n d my intentions, as well as to indicate their own ideas a n d feelings as to the process a n d eventual outcome of the project. Hence the project initially started slowly a n d very deliberately as a community-based collaborative process. My original plan was to interview approximately 30 w o m e n , all locally-based. However, although a great number more than this inquired into being in the project, I e n d e d up working primarily with ten local w o m e n for the postcards, with a number of w o m e n joining as 'distributors'. Since a number of w o m e n from outside the lower mainland requested to b e involved, I e x p a n d e d the project to include this group, including the creation of a web-site a n d the decision to create art that could b e easily mailed. As will b e outlined in Chapter 3, the research process included a n approximately two hour audio t a p e d interview a n d photo session, with the mother taking a n equal part in decisions around the composition a n d content of the images a n d the final statement to b e used with the artwork. I was the photographer in e a c h of the sessions. The images could b e about any aspect that the participant felt celebrated them as a  breastfeeding mother, a n d did not have to include images of breastfeeding. After developing the images a n d transcribing the interviews, I returned to the participant to jointly d e c i d e which images a n d text best represented their story. Many times, this discussion brought forth further comments or stories that could b e included in the final artwork.  Chapter 2  Review of the Literature  A number of research areas have application to the operationalizing of this art project as well as the process of researching this specific community-based art making project. The first two sections relate to literature that informs the art project itself. Beliefs a n d literature underlying extended breastfeeding are explored in the first section, whereas the methodology utilised in the art project is explored through examining literature referring to multiple ways of knowing in the section 'Arts-informed Ways of Knowing: Visual Images a n d Narrative as Educational Strategies'. The third section examines the definition of community-based art. Finally, research a n d theory around the notion of examining practice is outlined.  Extended breastfeeding  In the history of breastfeeding, most w o m e n have b e e n led to believe that the infant-feeding decision is merely a matter of personal inclination, a n d are unaware that breastfeeding is subject to commercial, economic, societal, a n d political pressures. Although many research studies find human milk superior to artificial formula (for example; Ferguson et al, 1987; Greiner, 1995; Horwood et al., 1998; Morrow-Tlucak etal., 1988; Rohde, 1988; Shu et al., 1999; Wrigley et al., 1990), the public information available o n breastfeeding is typically insufficient a n d inaccurate, thereby 9  leaving many w o m e n a n d their families unable to make fully informed decisions. While there is typically no question that children should b e breastfed, the issue of how long they should be breastfed always provokes lively d e b a t e (Ward, 2000). In every culture there is a n increase in mortality when breastfeeding ceases (Baumslag, 1995) because the protective properties of breastmilk continue to safeguard the child regardless of a g e . O n c e other food is introduced, the nutritional a n d social value of breastfeeding declines. In fact, the value of breastfeeding into or beyond the second year is often neglected, yet the number of pathogens a child is exposed to goes up as a child b e c o m e s older a n d more active. This fact is reflected in the World Health Organization's Innocent! Declaration Breastfeeding  on the Protection, Promotion and Support of  (1990, in Baumslag, 1995, p. 132), which states that;  As a global goal for optimal maternal a n d child health a n d nutrition, all w o m e n should be e n a b l e d to practice exclusive breastfeeding a n d all infants should b e fed exclusively on breastmilk from 4-6 months of a g e . Thereafter, children should continue to breastfeed, while receiving appropriate a n d a d e q u a t e complementary foods, for up to two years of a g e or beyond. This child-feeding ideal is to b e a c h i e v e d by creating a n appropriate environment of awareness  10  a n d support so that w o m e n c a n breastfeed in this manner, (p. 54) As well, it is difficult to disentangle the emotional a n d psychological forces involved in breastfeeding (Jelliffe et al, 1978). Our attitudes toward breastfeeding are indicators of our cultural attitudes toward children, a n d whether a society promotes a child-centred environment or not. Should children b e touched often a n d e n c o u r a g e d to enjoy the most intimate contact with their mothers, or kept at a distance in a n effort to teach them self-sufficiency? Should children b e comforted when crying or b e left to exhaust themselves to sleep? Should children b e put on a structured schedule or allowed to feed a n d sleep when hungry a n d tired? These child-centred notions have b e e n contemporised in our western society through movements known as 'Attachment Parenting'. Breastmilk substitutes c a n b e useful, lifesaving devices, just as artificial insulin c a n save the lives of diabetics. However, the infant feeding issue is frequently misrepresented as one of individual c h o i c e between two parallel methods, the breast or the bottle, but the products are not equal a n d the true cost to society a n d the individual is seldom measured or mentioned. Women must have the right to choose how they will use their bodies a n d w o m e n cannot b e ' m a d e ' to breastfeed. However, all w o m e n have the right to make an informed choice. Ultimately, the entrenchment of a bottle feeding culture has  created obstacles for w o m e n to optimally breastfeed their babies; it is a culture in which breastfeeding is seen as being only a means of providing calories to a newborn. Public policy, institutional practices a n d negative attitudes towards breastfeeding have all minimized a n d undervalued the contribution breastfeeding w o m e n make to the health a n d well-being of their societies. Until recently, breastfeeding to three a n d four years of a g e has b e e n c o m m o n in much of the world , a n d breastfeeding toddlers is still c o m m o n in many societies. Katherine Dettwyler, in her book Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives (1995, p. 55) outlines the cultural context of breastfeeding; All of the evidence from our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom, the non-human primates, suggests a natural weaning a g e between two a n d seven years of a g e . Cross-cultural evidence from around the world suggests that two to four years of breastfeeding is typical of modern humans. The question "Is that child still nursing?" needs to be stricken from our conversations. Parents a n d health professionals n e e d to recognize that the benefits of breastfeeding (nutritional, immunological, cognitive, emotional) continue as long as breastfeeding itself does, a n d that there never comes a point when you c a n replace breast milk with infant formula or cows' milk, or breastfeeding with a pacifier or teddy bear, without some costs to  12  the child. Ultimately, however, w o m e n have b e e n led to believe that breastfeeding is merely a matter of personal inclination, a n d are unaware that decisions about breastfeeding are subject to commercial, economic, societal, a n d political pressures. In the next section I will review literature that speaks to the educational strategies employed in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding project. In the process of designing the postcard art works to create a valid tool for promoting dialogue, other ways of knowing (specifically the visual a n d narrative) from the traditional text-based way of knowing were considered.  Multiple Ways of Knowing; Visual Images and Narrative as Educational Strategies Modernist notions of a singular, text-based way of knowing have shifted to a n acknowledgement of pluralistic ways of knowing in our postmodern culture. Under this new view, education is seen as a process of enabling persons to b e c o m e different, to enter the multiple provinces of meaning that create perspectives (Greene, 2001, p. 5). Among these multiple perspectives are arts-informed ways of knowing; defined as the modes of experience brought into being by encountering or creating works of art (Greene, 2001, p. 6). Film, video, storytelling, novels,  performance, poetry, visual art, music, a n d photography are a few of the emerging genres in arts-informed education a n d research. The arts provide rich opportunities for individual a n d collective meaning making. They provide a pluralistic a p p r o a c h to cognition a n d offer multiple entry points into concepts a n d ideas, a n d they c a n provoke individuals into newer, more complex understandings (Kesson, 1999). Curriculum theorists a n d philosophers of education such as Broudy (1988), Egan (1992), Eisner (1992), a n d Greene (1995) all argue that the cultivation of the intellect-the "capacity to generalize, analyze, a n d synthesize concepts" (Pinar et al., 1995, p. 569)-requires the cultivation of the imagination. Learning through the arts instead of just about the arts is a very powerful tool in curriculum development a n d teaching practice. The Visual Image as Educational Strategy; The symbolic language of visual art is not seen to be as accessible as text-based language even though images play a huge role in our everyday lives. Theorists such as Sandra Moriarty (1994) argue for the primacy of visual communication; I would like to suggest that visual communication is as much a primary system as verbal language, a n d that language based communication has been inappropriately privileged in contemporary Western culture. This is not to say that visual communication is more important, or language less so. The argument  14  here is that a n equally important form of communication-visual communication-has b e e n ignored because of the strong emphasis our culture a n d the a c a d e m y have p l a c e d on language, (p. 35) However, the semiotics of visual communication are a unique aspect of the form a n d content of a n artifact. There are many problems with this conversion of artworks, which use visuals, into text; many theorists view communication from the traditional reductive a p p r o a c h , as a n objective opposition between subject a n d object. O n e of the great difficulties which results is that w e tend to a p p r o a c h the interpretation of images as if they c a n in a literal sense b e read. But w e don't read images as w e might read words on a p a g e . (Burnett, 1995, p. 59) What does a n image transmit? Barthes (1977) writes that meanings are produced through the codes at work in representations a n d that while meanings might a p p e a r to b e natural, they are in fact constructed through social a n d historical contexts; "from the object to the image there is of course a reduction-in proportion, perspective, colour-but at no time is this reduction a transformation.  Certainly the image is not reality,  but it is at least its perfect a n a l a g o n " (p.23). However, as argued by Ellesworth (1988, 1990), images are not neutral carriers of content a n d that they c a n be "ideological forms that inflect content with particular  15  meanings" (Kuhn, 1982). Burnett (1995) takes these notions further, positing that seeing a n d listening are only part of a process which links viewing to gender, ethnicity, class a n d sexual preference. In the early 1970s, art historian John Berger m a d e a series of programs for BBC Television called Ways of Seeing. In these a n d in his book, Berger (1972) considers how images make meaning. However, meanings d o not reside in images; they are circulated between representation, spectator, a n d social formation (Kuhn, 1982). The notion of the importance of visual images to the "creation of identity or the gathering a n d distribution of knowledge" has b e e n addressed by Baudrillard (cited in Docherty, 1993), Debord (1967), a n d Duncum (2000) where visual images have b e c o m e "so c o m m o n they not only fuse with reality, but have also b e c o m e reality" a n d lend authority a n d "truth" to specific aspects of our lives. Photography, as a process of image creation, seems in a unique position to re-present the reality of this sub-culture of women. The notion of image as educational strategy has b e e n explored by several theorists a n d researchers, as visual images have a n inherent power to communicate meaning (De Bevoise, 1999). Elliot Eisner (in De Bevoise, 1999, p. 43) states that: experience itself is rooted initially in a world of images. Ordinary  16  experiences are, in a sense, multimedia events that focus on images, a n d education shapes the way in which those images are experienced. The world that w e o c c u p y is a world of sight, sound, taste, smell, a n d it is an interactive world. It is an image-filled world, a n d without access to that world or without the ability to experience the qualities that constitute the world in which w e live, I think no education could g o forward. Images are at the core of education because they constitute the concepts that represent the distilled residue of experience, (p. 43). Narrative as Educational Strategy; Narrative refers to the structure, knowledge, a n d skill required to construct a story (Gudmundsdottir, 1995). Bruner (1987) states that the mind is equipped with two modes of cognitive processing, paradigmatic (designed to d e v e l o p propositions subject to empirical test) a n d narrative (designed to comprehend a n d d e v e l o p stories). By using narrative form, w e assign meaning to events a n d invest them with c o h e r e n c e , integrity, fullness a n d closure. When w e p l a c e events drawn from our experiences within a n order provided by narrative, w e also invest them with a moral significance (Gudmundsdottir, 1995). Narratives are a valuable transformative tool, as they allow us to understand the world in new ways a n d help us to communicate new  17  ideas to others (Clandinin et al, 1990). They allow us to discover new meanings by assimilating the experiences of others, by achieving close, empathetic, communal identification (Ong, 1982). In order for the narrative to exist, the reader must reconstruct the text; it is through this dialogue that experience is transformed into p e d a g o g i c a l content knowledge, defined by Gudmundsdottir (1995) as a practical way of knowing the subject matter. This literature review has addressed literature focused on the operationalization of the art project. In the final two sections, I examine research that addresses the examination of the experience of do-ing this art project, specifically definitions of community-based art making a n d artistic practice as a way of knowing.  Community-based Art making  Art a n d art making play important roles across cultures. However, in the recent past, Western culture has valued a modernist a p p r o a c h to art making in which art is seen as only a n object a n d the artist is seen as a transcendent individual who is separated from society. In contrast, postmodern approaches focus on the context/s of art making a n d the potential of art to transform socio-cultural values. The artist is seen as nurturing a connective aesthetic (Gablik, 1995) where the locus of creativity is based in dialogic collaborative, interactive a n d 18  interdependent processes (Irwin, 1999, p. 36). Gablik (1995) states "giving e a c h person a voice is what builds community a n d makes art socially responsive. Interaction becomes the medium of expression, an empathetic way of seeing through another's eyes" (p. 82). Over the past two d e c a d e s this postmodern notion has also b e e n reflected in art education, theorizing the n e e d for a shift from a focus on the disciplines of the fine arts to a wider range of visual art a n d cultural issues, a focus coming to b e known as visual culture studies. In his book Celebrating Pluralism, F. G r a e m e Chalmers(1996) asks the questions "What is art? What is it for? What constitutes g o o d art? Who decides these things? By what standards?" (p.26) to examine traditional notions of visual art. He posits that if w e look at an e x p a n d e d a n d more inclusive definition of art making across cultures, w e will find that artists c a n take many roles, as ascribers of meaning, ascribers of status, catalysts of social c h a n g e , enhancers a n d decorators, interpreters, magicians, mythmakers, propagandists, recorders of history, sociotherapists, storytellers, a n d teachers (p. 35). This e x p a n d e d view of art making is known as visual culture. Community-based art making practice emerged in the mid-1970s, e x p a n d e d in the 1980s, a n d some argue has b e c o m e institutionalized in the 1990s (Felshin, 1995). Characterized by the use of public s p a c e to  19  address issues of sociopolitical a n d cultural significance, communitybased art making seeks to encourage community or public participation as a means of effecting social c h a n g e . Defined as "arts-centered activity that contributes to the sustained a d v a n c e m e n t of human dignity, health and/or productivity within a community" (Felshin, 1995, p. 5), communitybased art making tends to b e process rather than object- or productoriented. It usually takes p l a c e in public sites rather than within the context of art-world venues. Most often, it takes the form of temporal interventions, a n d employs mainstream media techniques such as billboards, posters a n d newspaper inserts. A high degree of preliminary research, organizational activity a n d orientation of participants is often at the heart of its collaborative methods of execution (Felshin, 1995). Typically, a large base of support is necessary for long-term impact on the community. Participation is at the centre of the community-based art making process. Individuals are empowered as they acquire a voice, visibility a n d a n awareness that they are part of a greater whole. The personal thus becomes political, a n d c h a n g e , even if only of public consciousness, becomes possible. With this kind of artistic practice, participation c a n also b e a dialogical process that changes both the participant a n d the artist (Felshin, 1995, p. 12).  20  Traditional notions of art making tend to preclude the notion that g o o d art, public service a n d community development are mutually exclusive. For those artists practicing community-based artmaking, there is a strong belief that artists a n d communities c a n partner to serve the public g o o d a n d , most important, that the arts could b e a powerful agent of personal, institutional a n d community c h a n g e (Cleveland, 1998, p. 5). As well, a growing body of research supports their usefulness; improved economies, a c a d e m i c s a n d self-esteem, the reduction of violence a n d recidivism a n d an increase in employment a n d community cohesiveness are a m o n g the outcomes that have b e e n d o c u m e n t e d (Cleveland, 1998, p. 7).  Artistic Practice as a Way of Knowing The triangle of educator, researcher, a n d artist is seen to b e integral to the formation of a n art educator in order to develop a well rounded scholar (Irwin, 1999), based on the three kinds of thought posited by Aristotle (In Sullivan, 2000); knowing (theoria), doing (praxis) a n d making (poesis). As researchers, art educators n e e d to continually ask questions a n d seek answers; as stated by Dewey (1943, p. 55), "learning to t e a c h well requires being conscientious students of our own p r a c t i c e " . As artists, art educators are focussed on the creation of artworks (e.g. Ball, 1990; Gablik, 1991; Pazienza, 1997; Szekely, 1978) where the p e d a g o g u e draws  on his or her own creative struggles, personal insights, a n d practical experience as a n artist. Each of these aspects c a n inform a n d support teaching practice as art educators. This thesis is based in the belief that art educators n e e d to actively participate in, a n d c a n learn from, artistic practice. Hands-on artistic practice, or the creating of art, is the 'process of coming to know something-of meaning making' (Heck, 1998). Nadaner (1998) argues that artistic practice c a n be used to inform a n d extend theoretical ways of knowing (p. 168). Thorne & Hayes (1997) state that this experiential knowing process, known as praxis, is based on the spiral notion of reflection upon practice toward the refinement of theory a n d therefore the enhancement of practice (p. 10). Presently, many theorists have argued that e a c h of these three ways of being as art educators has not b e e n valued equally; 'text is privileged over vision, a n d discourse is privileged over presentation' (Nadaner, 1998, p. 179). As well, there is often a split between the theories of art education a n d between the actual practice of art education (Gude, 2003). If curriculum planning is based solely on one way of being, there is a risk that a unimodal curriculum will b e d e v e l o p e d , instead a postmodern a p p r o a c h in which a variety of approaches a n d positions c a n b e seen as equally valid (Gude, 2003).  22  Summary In this chapter, I have explored some of the theoretical foundations for the art making as well as the research phase of this thesis. In the next chapter, I continue a discussion about the underlying assumptions of this study as they relate in particular to the methodology of the research. In the chapters that follow, I consider the ways that the issues raised in this chapter arise in the experiences of the participants, audience, a n d artist of the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding project.  23  Chapter 3 Study Design and Methodology  This qualitative research is a series of descriptive case studies (Merriam, 1988; McMillian & Schumacher, 1997; Stake, 1995). The specific concepts being investigated in this study were the experiences of a specific visual art project by three groups of people; the participants, the artist, a n d the audience. C a s e study methodology allowed for an investigation of these concepts a n d for a presentation of the resulting d a t a as rich or thick descriptions (Mason, 1996). Qualitative c a s e study research c a n b e used to explore the processes a n d dynamics of practice from a holistic perspective; defined as "an intensive holistic description a n d analysis of a bounded phenomenon," the interest is in process rather than outcomes, in context rather than in a specific variable, in discovery rather than in confirmation (Merriam, 1988, p. xiv). A case study a p p r o a c h is seen to be the best methodology for addressing these problems in which understanding is sought in order to improve practice. This methodology has b e e n chosen to achieve as full a n understanding of the phenomenon as possible (Mason, 1998). Using this framework, d a t a has b e e n collected primarily in the form of interview transcripts, a n d secondarily through observations (in the form of my visual journal) a n d documents (newspaper clippings). The focus on the interview allowed me to probe the participants' ideas, reasons,  24  experiences, a n d responses in order to determine their experience within the project. Stake (1995) indicates that "qualitative case study research is highly personal research" (p. 135). Rather that working with one single case study, I worked with nine participants plus myself. Therefore this research is considered a collective case study (Mason, 1995). Although the obligation of case study research is "to understand this one c a s e " (Stake, 1995, p. 4), a sample of a few cases provides a n opportunity for observing differences a n d commonalities. This comparison c a n in fact extend the learning about the c a s e a n d lead to greater understanding of a single c a s e (Stake, 1995). My own experience as related to the project a n d research was significant because I would n e e d to b e able to perceive, understand a n d interpret what was being said by the participants a n d audience. Stake (1995) indicates "we recognise that c a s e study is subjective, relying heavily on our previous experience a n d our worth of things" (p. 134). However, the c h o i c e of a case study methodology, with g o o d design related to maximizing reliability a n d validity, is reported to b e suited to situations where it is impossible to separate the phenomenon's variables from their context (Merriam, 1988, p. 10). My experience as a breastfeeding mother, art educator a n d artist c a n b e seen as facilitating a comprehensive understanding of the groups under study.  25  Selection of Participants A f t e r s e c u r i n g e t h i c s r e v i e w c l e a r a n c e a t t h e University o f British C o l u m b i a , I initiated t h e r e s e a r c h p h a s e of t h e Normalizing E x t e n d e d B r e a s t f e e d i n g P r o j e c t . P a r t i c i p a n t s in t h e art m a k i n g p h a s e o f t h e p r o j e c t w e r e s e l f - s e l e c t e d f r o m i n v i t a t i o n s p l a c e d in s p a c e s a n d a g e n c i e s w h e r e e x t e n d e d b r e a s t f e e d i n g is p r a c t i c e d ( s e e A p p e n d i x C ) . T h o s e p a r t i c i p a t i n g in t h e p r o j e c t w e r e i n v i t e d , a s p a r t o f t h e first i n t e r v i e w , t o s p e a k o f w h y this p r o j e c t h a d i n t e r e s t e d t h e m a n d w h y t h e y h a d m a d e t h e d e c i s i o n t o c a l l t h e researcher-artist. A majority of t h e participants a r e breastfeeding mothers.  Data Collection D a t a c o l l e c t i o n took p l a c e as semi-structured interviews ( M c M i l l a n & S c h u m a c h e r , 1997) for t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s , a n d a s f i e l d n o t e s f o r t h e artist a n d a u d i e n c e . A p p e n d i x B g i v e s a list o f q u e s t i o n s t h a t w e r e u s e d f o r t h e i n t e r v i e w s . This list o f q u e s t i o n s s e r v e d a s a g u i d e t o c o n d u c t t h e i n t e r v i e w ( s ) ; a d d i t i o n a l q u e s t i o n s w e r e a s k e d a s a result o f t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s r e s p o n s e s . T h e flexibility o f f e r e d b y a s e m i - s t r u c t u r e d i n t e r v i e w a l l o w e d t h e pursuit o f t o p i c s i n t r o d u c e d b y t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s , t h e c l a r i f i c a t i o n o f c o m m e n t s t h r o u g h further p r o b i n g , a n d t h e d e l v i n g m o r e d e e p l y into a t o p i c w i t h a d d i t i o n a l q u e s t i o n s ; initial r e s e a r c h q u e s t i o n s m a y b e 26  "modified or even replaced in mid-study" by the case researcher (Stake, 1995, p. 9). In this study, the research questions a n d therefore interview questions were more focussed by the e n d of the art project. Permission was obtained from the participants at the beginning of the session to d o a n audio recording of the interview(s). Typed transcripts of the first interview were given to the participants at the second interview, such that they could make corrections, changes or additions. These transcripts were also used as a tool to facilitate further discussion. The d a t a collection was mostly in the form of the interview transcripts, but did include field notes (in the form of a visual journal) a n d the narrative a n d visual images used in the postcards that were used to facilitate further dialogue on the topic area. The d a t a for the experience of the artist a n d the audience is determined from field notes written during a n d after the completion of the project.  Timelines The ideas a n d initial discussions for the art project itself started in January 2001. However, the research study officially b e g a n in June 2001, after many of the details had b e e n worked out a n d the ethical review was approved. Collaborations a n d interviews b e g a n in June 2001, with final decisions about the artwork format in October 2001. Most of the  interviews occurred during the summer of 2001, before the birth of my second child in July 2001. Although I kept in contact with the participants, during the period of July 2001 through December 2001 I was not focused on this project, but on my newborn son. In January 2002,1 purchased a new printer a n d b e g a n to print out postcards. The design included a n image of the mother a n d child with narrative on one side of the card, with a brief overview of the project, research questions, a n d contact information on the back of the card (examples are found in Chapter 4: Presenting the Data). The website was d e v e l o p e d in February 2002. During the period of January 2002 through October 2002, new participants, in the form of postcard deliverers, joined the project. In October 2002, the project was mostly wound down.  Role of the Researcher My involvement in this study was that of a participant a n d observer. I was acting in the role of "insider" (McMillan & Schumacher, 1997), as a full participant in the phenomenon of the study, but also as "outsider" as I have attempted to objectively analyse the d a t a g l e a n e d from the interviews. Qualitative researchers frequently cite personal or professional experiences that enable them to empathize with the participants (McMillan & Schumacher, 1997, p. 413). As I describe in my own case  28  study, there were several occasions during the study when my past experiences allowed me to recognise subtleties in the participants' experiences. For these reasons, trust seemed not to b e a n issue.  Data Analysis As this study employed a collective case study format, a n early commitment to c o m m o n topics facilitated later cross-site analysis (Stake, 1995, p. 25). Data has b e e n analysed during the process of the life of the project, focussing on the period at the e n d . A preliminary d a t a analysis took p l a c e following e a c h interview, however the bulk of the d a t a analysis has occurred after the project has c o m p l e t e d . I have analysed the d a t a by "inductively organizing the d a t a into categories a n d identifying patterns a m o n g these categories" (McMillan & Schumacher, 1997, p. 501). As this study presents several cases, d a t a is gathered about e a c h of the cases before examining c o m m o n themes between the cases. Upon completing the initial interview transcriptions, I re-read all the interview d a t a , selected comments that related to the research questions, then wrote a summary note on the transcript. A similar process was taken for the field notes on the experience of the audience a n d artist. During the reading a n d summarization process, several themes  29  emerged. Sub-topics also emerged a n d were categorized according to those themes. These sub-topics were grouped to create a profile of e a c h of the nine participants organized by the three major themes, a n d the "categories were grouped for synthesis a n d interpretation" (McMillan & Schumacher, 1997, p. 509).  Reporting the data Profiles, in the form of thematic reporting, are used in order to present the findings of this study. For e a c h participant in the study, the raw d a t a was organized into themes, based on the questions asked at the interviews a n d the research questions. Profiles are context-sensitive (Eisner, 1998) a n d are able to closely maintain the individuality of e a c h participant (Stake, 1995, p. 126).  Limitations of the Study This study is limited in its generalizability. The participants are small in number, a n d the d a t a is specific to these ten individuals. However, Stake (1995) stated that "the case is one a m o n g others" (p. 2) a n d that w e study them "for both their uniqueness a n d commonality" (p. 1). Although qualitative case study methodology has b e e n criticized for its limited generalizability, using a multisite case study c a n increase the transferability to other settings. In this way, case study research c a n "examine a specific 30  instance but illuminate a general problem" (Merriam, 1988, p. 139). In fact, Stake (1995) reminds us that w e d o not study a case primarily to understand other cases, a n d that our first obligation is to understand o n e case (p. 8). Providing 'thick' description in case study methodology increases the possibility of consideration of the findings to other cases, thus increasing its potential applicability (Merriam, 1988, p. 14). The reliability of the study is limited by my role as participant a n d observer. However, the concern about observer bias in the case of the participant interviews was minimized by audiotaping the interviews a n d by verifying d a t a via the interview transcripts with the participants. The reliability of the narratives constructed from my fieldnotes is limited, as it is based on subjective experiences a n d relies on the throughness, or lack thereof, of my note keeping. A second limitation is the use of a mostly unimodal method for d a t a collection (i.e. interviews). Triangulation, in the form of more visual d a t a a n d focussed interviews with myself a n d with members of the audience, would have e n h a n c e d the reliability of this study.  31  Chapter 4 Presenting the Data  In this section I will present d a t a on nine of the participant mothers primarily based on interviews with the participants, supplemented by images a n d narratives of the mothers as created for the postcard artworks. Using a thematic reporting format, several pieces of d a t a are presented for e a c h participant; a brief introduction to the participant a n d her family; a n image of the mother a n d child from the postcard; the story of how they b e c a m e involved; highlights of our meetings; significant follow-up; reflection from mom of why she chose to collaborate; process of creating image; impact of actual images on participant. Data is also presented on the experience of the artist a n d audience in the form of narrative reflections, based on field notes c o m p o s e d during a n d after the project in the form of my visual journal.  Profiles of the Experience of the Participants in the Normalizing Breastfeeding Project  Participant #1: Kathy and Lee  Kathy is a 42 year old PhD student in marine biology. Her family includes her husband, who has c o m p l e t e d his doctoral work, a n d her son Lee, who was two years old at the time this project started. Kathy has strong beliefs in creating a child-centred environment a n d often speaks 32  of being inspired by the 'attachment parenting' movement. She strongly believes in co-sleeping/family b e d , natural birth, organic foods, minimizing childcare.  Image 1: Kathy and Lee  How she b e c a m e involved; Kathy a n d I met at the series of parenting groups where this project started. We d e v e l o p e d a friendship over chatting at other parent a n d child activities on campus, even discussing swapping childcare at one point. She was part of my initial discussion about how this project could p r o c e e d , a n d was o n e of the first participants to b e interviewed.  33  Highlights of our meetings; Kothy wgs my first pgrticipgnt. I visited her clone, neither of our children were there. We met for 2 hours; tolking first gnd then erecting some imoges. Two weeks loter, I dropped off imoges gnd the transcript of our discussion to her home. Significant follow-up; Kothy a n d I did not octuglly e n d up erecting g postcord together. We lost touch when her husbond wgs offered o postdoctoral position outside of the city. Reflections from Kothy of why she chose to colloborate; Kothy spoke eloquently of how importont bregstfeeding wgs to her, especiolly gs gn older mother ond g biologist. She spoke of being very owgre of the sociol pressures to w e a n Lee gs he grew older. She felt her knowledge bose gs g biologist hgs helped her to continue with breostfeeding, gnd her selfidentificotion gs "I've glwgys b e e n the sort of rebel in the fomily". She wgs plegsed to be oble to b e involved in the project os it promoted something she sees os ngtural gnd heglthy. Process of erecting imgge; Kgthy gnd I erected 15 imgges together; some with Kothy bregstfeeding, some with Kothy g n d Lee plgying g n d regding together. All imgges were tgken inside with ngtural light. Impgct of octugl imgges on pgrticipgnt; Kgthy seemed to b e uncomfortoble ot first. As this wgs my first time interviewing g pgrticipgnt, I wgs nervous os well. Kgthy did not e n d up choosing one specific imoge  34  a n d narrative for the postcard as they moved a w a y a n d w e lost contact.  Participant #2: Farah, Zubin, Arman and Ruzbeh  Farah is a 36 year old w o m a n with two children. She is a strong health a n d wellness a d v o c a t e with a PhD in Public Health. Her background includes writing a book on midwifery, teaching at the local school of medicine, a n d grassroots activism with natural birth a n d parenting. Her husband is also a n a c a d e m i c .  Breastmilk is a most precious gift we can give our little ones; if s nature's perfect food... liquid love. Farah, mother of Zubin, 3 years  Image 2: Postcard Front for Farah and Zubin  How she b e c a m e involved; Farah a n d I met at Toddler Story Time at the local library in October 2000. She was bubbly a n d friendly, a n d her three35  year old son Zubin was intense yet shy. We c o n n e c t e d immediately. She, a PhD graduate five years a g o , with a strong knowledge base in midwifery a n d public health, a n d myself a fledgling masters student in art education. We quickly d e v e l o p e d a strong friendship a n d spent long hours comparing notes about childrearing, mothering, a n d breastfeeding. We also shared a commonality of both being pregnant. She was a large part of the initial discussions of how the project d e v e l o p e d . Highlights of our meetings; We met for the interview in her home. We were olone, os her husbgnd hgd tgken Zubin out for o wglk. We spoke ot length gbout her experiences with breastfeeding a n d with political action about promoting breastfeeding. Her son a n d husband arrived at the e n d of the t a p e d interview. We created images together-Farah was very specific that she wanted the act of breastfeeding to b e the focus for the images. As she breastfed Zubin, he fell asleep. For the final three images, she asked if her husband could b e included. Significant follow-up; Our discussions continued almost every time w e met, informally as friends, a n d formally in the interview follow-up. Farah took the longest time of all the moms to d e c i d e which image best represented her as a breastfeeding mother. Reflection from Farah of why she chose to collaborate; Farah was very excited to participate as she saw the project as parallel to her beliefs  36  about breastfeeding; "I'm always having to find ways to a c c o m m o d a t e this n e e d for bonding, especially because he is a little boy. I want him to have that real tenderness that he still has...loving a n d incredibly, incredibly tender as a little boy. I want that kind of energy to continue to b e nurtured in him. That caressing softness that gets engendered by breastfeeding is going to encourage him to express his whole being, a n d not just his masculine self that our society encourages. He is such a boy in every way...anything I c a n d o to e n c o u r a g e this softness...And I really feel that the breastfeeding encourages this...we live in this world that batters them emotionally at every stage, so whatever w e c a n d o to keep them strong a n d whole...and listening to their own self. Whatever examples w e c a n set as parents are helpful..." "I still keep meeting w o m e n who don't want to breastfeed...or just want to breastfeed for 6 months. I just find that so tragic.for all of us. It is just such a beautiful experience as a mother...to b o n d in a way that is impossible with any other experience. It is the most intimate w a y to b e close to another human being...such a spiritual a n d emotional moment for both...It is the most precious gift w e c a n give our children...nature's perfect food. Liquid love." Process of creating image; It was very important to Farah that all the  37  images w e created reflected her breastfeeding. We took 14 images of her in different positions breastfeeding Zubin on the c o u c h . In the last three images she requested to have her husband present in the image. Impact of actual images on participant; When w e met again to discuss the images, she specificglly chose on imgge with her full fgmily present gs it wgs important to her that she reflect the involvement of partners/family in the breastfeeding relationship.  Participant #3: Leanne a n d Oliver Leanne is a mother who is also a practicing artist. At the time of the project, her son was three years of a g e , a n d she was seven months pregnant with her second child. She is very active in the International Breastfeeding A d v o c a c y Group, La Leche League, a n d was in fact studying to b e a leader. Leanne described herself as leading a very childcentered life. Her husband is a physician.  38  I b r e a s t f e e d b e c a u s e I think it is t h e i d e a l f o r m of m o t h e r i n g . I b e l i e v e so strongly in that p h y s i c a l c o n n e c t i o n f r o m internal to external...that b r e a s t f e e d i n g is that link. That h e g e t s to e a t w h a t I h a v e m a d e with m y b o d y . . . i t g o e s into his b o d y . . . t h a t w e c o n t i n u e that p h y s i c a l link b e t w e e n us. A n d It is a w i n d o w for us to c o n n e c t . . . p h y s i c a l l y just h o l d i n g  and  t o u c h i n g . . . t h e v a l u e of t o u c h . I f e e l s o strongly a b o u t that.  Leanne. mother of Oliver, 3 years  Image 3: Postcard Front for Leanne and Oliver  How Leanne b e c a m e involved: Leanne was informed of the project through another La Leche League leader. She was particularily interested being as artist herself, a n d had many great ideas about the progression of the project. Highlights of our meetings: Legnne gnd I met three times. At the first interview, w e were not able to create images, as Oliver h a d fallen asleep. We spent over a n hour talking about her experiences with breastfeeding a n d her beliefs about tandem nursing (nursing two children at once). At the second interview, I brought my daughter. The visit was spent creating  39  images a n d watching the kids playing together. Significant follow-up; Most of our follow-up was via email, as Leanne was busy installing two exhibitions a n d being a mom to her new daughter. As well, Leanne a n d her family relocated to Australia. Reflection from Leanne of why she chose to collaborate; Leanne spoke passionately about her interest about being in the project; "I a m actually quite political about my breastfeeding...! feel quite militant about breastfeeding. I feel I have a responsibility to stand up for my a n d Oliver's right to breastfeed". Leanne spoke eloquently about her beliefs; "I breastfeed b e c a u s e I think it is the ideal form of mothering. I believe so strongly in that physical connection from internal to externa I...that breastfeeding is that link. That he gets to eat what I have m a d e with my body...it goes into his body...that w e continue that physical link between us. And it is a window for us to connect...physically just holding a n d touching...the value of touch. I feel so strongly about that. Process of creating image; We took several imgges of Leanne playing with Oliver outside, looking at worms a n d running around the yard. The images created inside were more contemplative, with the d y a d snuggling on the b e d , sometimes breastfeeding, sometimes not. Impact of actual images on participant; It was very important to Leanne  40  t h a t w e c h o s e i m a g e s o f h e r b r e a s t f e e d i n g . S h e felt t h e y w e r e b e a u t i f u l , b o t h b e c a u s e of t h e t h e m e of t h e project a n d b e c a u s e of t h e c o m p o s i t i o n a n d lighting of t h e i m a g e s .  Participant #4: Nerissa and Waveriey N e r i s s a is a g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t in C i v i l E n g i n e e r i n g . S h e lives w i t h h e r h u s b a n d R y a n a n d d a u g h t e r W a v e r i e y . S h e shares a p a i d position with h e r h u s b a n d w o r k i n g with c h i l d r e n ' s activities. Nerissa d o e s not c o n s i d e r h e r s e l f t o b e p a r t i c u l a r l y p o l i t i c a l . A l t h o u g h s h e is p a s s i o n a t e a b o u t b r e a s t f e e d i n g , a l a r g e part of w h y s h e p r a c t i c e s e x t e n d e d b r e a s t f e e d i n g is d u e t o h e r d a u g h t e r ' s f o o d a l l e r g i e s . N e r i s s a w a s t o l d t o c o n t i n u e breastfeeding as long as possible, as W a v e r i e y n e e d e d to b e o n a l a c t o s e f r e e d i e t until 4 y e a r s o f a g e .  41  Image 4: Nerissa and Waverley  How Nerissa b e c a m e involved: Nerissa a n d I met through the neighbourhood children's activities. She expressed interest in the project as I described the underlying beliefs a n d process. Highlights of our meetings: Nerissg gnd I met gt her home. I brought my doughter to ploy with Wgverly while w e tglked. Unfortunotely, the children's octivity wgs g bit distracting, but w e m g n g g e d . We cregted several imgges together, all inside using natural light. Sianificgnt follow-up: Nerissa called me when she b e c a m e pregnant with second child. She wondered about resources for tondem nursing gnd bregstfeeding during pregngncy. I supplied phone numbers o n d sites on  42  the Internet that she could use to research these topics. Reflection from Nerissa of why she chose to collaborate; Nerissa spoke of her beliefs about breastfeeding, especially in her culture; "I d o remember people asking me how long I was going to breastfeed, a n d I think at the time I said 'oh about a year, but we'll see...' but I hadn't really thought about it, so it was just to keep people happy. L: Do you feel like you have some sort of a response tucked in the back of your brain for when people ask you about why you are still breastfeeding? N: I don't really think about it that much, because a lot of our close friends know all about Waverly's allergies. So I think I d o c o p out a bit a n d sometimes d o use that as excuse. I really haven't had that question c o m e up that much. I did notice in P a n a m a , my mother would use the allergy reason a lot. So if people asked me I would try not to use that excuse too. I mostly said 'Why not!'. I knew I wasn't going to convince anybody, so I wasn't thinking about the benefits of breastfeeding, a n d the closeness. A lot of people tend to focus on the nutritional aspects as opposed the closeness or the physical n e e d s . " Nerissa went on to state t h a t " It makes me happy to think that my breastfeeding influences a lot of people so that when they have children its totally normal to breastfeed."  43  Process of creating image: Nerissa a n d I created several images together, some breastfeeding a n d some just playing a n d reading together. All were taken inside using natural light g n d ngtural poses. ImpQct of octugl images on participant: Nerissa felt very self-conscious, commenting she didn't like some at first. She e n d e d up choosing an image of them playing together.  Participant #5: Heather a n d C l e m Heather is a registered nurse from the United States. Her husband is a musician. Together, they live in a funky section of the city in which this project took p l a c e . Heather proudly spoke of eating organic foods a n d practising a child-centred life.  Image 5: Blurred Image of Heather and Clem 44  How Heather b e c a m e involved; I met Heather through a classmate at the local art college where I was taking a course. Highlights of our meetings: At our first meeting, w e met at her home with both of our children present. At first, w e chatted inside while our children played with toys. We d e c i d e d to g o outside to the playground for the remoinder of the meeting. In total, w e spent about four hours together that first day. The second meeting took p l a c e in my home ; w e visited for about an hour a n d then spent time playing with the images w e had taken, by altering the images after they had b e e n digitised. Significant follow-up; Heather a n d I continued to correspond through email. She also visited me shortly after Noah was born, bringing snacks a n d a gift. Reflection from Heather of why she chose to collaborate; Heather referred to her background as a health care professional as integral to why she chose to participate. She spoke of the benefits of breastfeeding; "I feel like it is helping...with the nutrients he might not otherwise get if he is not drinking cow's milk... The main reason I d o it is that its best for him a n d for me...l always have it with me. There are inconvenient things about it...but those sacrifices are well worth it. I think it is a comfort for him. He settles down. Some things I've  45  read...there are different opinions a n d drawbacks. So I'm trying to follow my intuition a n d to set limits...do it in a way that is not taking a w a y from him." Process of creating image; Hegther gnd I erected both indoor o n d outdoor imgges, glthough the bulk were using ngtural light outside. Heother wos pgrticulcrly self-conscious. ImpQct of octucl imgges on pgrticipgnt; Hegther wgs quite c o n c e r n e d obout privocy. She chose on imgge of the oct of bregstfeeding, but w e used the blur function of Photoshop soffwore to moke the imgge look less like her. She wos glso very specific thot she bring the imgge home to discuss it with her husbond first. For this reoson, I never pushed her to creote o postcord. Although I sent several emgils to let her know obout updotes to the project, she did not let me know her decision about the image a n d story. Therefore, a postcard was not created for Heather a n d Clem.  Participant #6: Sheryl a n d J a c o b Sheryl operates a Montessori childcare centre in her home, along with her husband Stacey. Although they both worked outside of the home prior to J a c o b being born, they m a d e the decision to pursue paid work in their home in order to promote a child-centred lifestyle. They also  46  take in homestay students. Sheryl is very impassioned about breastfeeding a n d natural parenting, although she is quick to state that she herself was not breastfed.  Image 6: Sheryl and  Jacob  How they b e c a m e involved: After I posted a n invitation on the local parenting website, Vancouvermamas, Sheryl was one of the first people to a p p r o a c h me about the project. Highlights of our meetings: At our first meeting, a n earthquake occurred about 20 minutes into the interview! At the second interview, Sheryl,  47  Stacey a n d J a c o b were all present, along with several of the children who were there for daycare. My daughter was also present. Significant follow-up; Sheryl m o v e d to another province, a n d although w e corresponded via email, she did not make a final decision about the image a n d story she wished to use in her postcord. The Igst time w e spoke, J o c o b hod stopped bregstfeeding. Reflection from mom of why she chose to collaborate; Sheryl was keen to share her beliefs about breastfeeding; "For me the biggest thing with breastfeeding him, from day one but especially now that he is not as fragile, calming effect of nursing. Priceless. "I have to listen to me, not everyone else. And as every d a y passes, I get stronger a n d stronger with that feeling that people try to give me advice a n d criticisms. I let it g o in one ear a n d out the other, because I know what is best. Before I used to try to convert people, I was trying to t e a c h them. But now I don't even give people facts. I just say 'this is what is right for me, its between J a c o b a n d me'. I just put the energy into doing it. It changes so drastically when he gets older. He is here, but his feel are two feet past my body...he takes up the whole c o u c h . Its strange. You don't see pictures of three year old boys nursing from their moms. You see pictures of moms cradling their babies as they are nursing."  48  He is a totally different child on the days he does not have his nursing a n d cuddle time in the morning. And I think 'what would I d o if I didn't have breastfeeding'...he would b e such a different child. I think there are profound differences between children who are breastfed a n d those who are not. I sometimes feel sorry for the w o m e n who g a v e up early in trying to nurse, I think they have missed out on something. We're still breastfeeding a n d he is three, so w e must have d o n e something right! If someone would have told me I would still b e nursing J a c o b when he was three, I would have told them they were crazy. But its amazing how much your life changes when you b e c o m e a mother. Everything just changes so drastically. I c a n sort of understand why people without kids, it is totally a different world. But I expect people with kids to understand. The work relationship makes it more difficult to breastfeed. You really have to want it. When he is sick, I just know that I have this super-food that you just c a n ' t get anywhere else. And its g o o d for your self-esteem a n d wellbeing to know that no one c a n make anything better than what I a m just making naturally. And knowing that he will b e getting over his c o l d quicker is amazing..." Process of creating image; Sheryl wgs quite shy gbout hoving her imgge tgken. Alhough w e hod discussed the process beforehond, she b e c g m e  49  a bit flustered a n d stated she n e e d e d to have a shower. All images were taken inside her home, using natural light. Impact of actual images on participant; Sheryl was very pleased to see the final images. She did comment on the natural light a n d how it emphasized the c a l m nature of the images. A postcard was not created for Sheryl a n d J a c o b .  Participant #7: Erica a n d Kea Erica is a student living with her husband Jamie in a rented house with friends Keri a n d Riley, who also chose to b e a part of this project. Although Erica h a d only been breastfeeding for eight months, she was very keen to b e involved in the project.  I used to see toddlers breastfeeding, a n d thought it l o o k e d really strange. J couldn't imagine m e doing that, but now that K e a is a toddler herself. I can't imagine NOT breastfeeding her! She's still my b a b y ! Erica, mother of Kea, 14 months  Image 7: Postcard Front for Erica and Kea 50  How Erica b e c a m e involved; Erica a n d I met through Vancouvermamas website. She h a d also heard of the project through the La Leche League meetings she was attending. Highlights of our meetings; Ericg gnd Keri met in their home with our children. We tolked gnd w a t c h e d our children ploy for o while. We retired to the kitchen to creote imgges, as this was where the most natural light ocurred. Afterwards, w e walked to the local community centre to attend a La Leche League meeting together. Significgnt follow-up; Erica was always very keen to participate, emailing me for updates. She was the first to allow me to put her image on the project website. Reflection from Erica of why she chose to collaborate; Erica spoke of the normality of breastfeeding in her own life, a n d how she wished this for other mothers; "When I was pregnant, Jamie's mom was sending me articles about how there are so many chemicals in breastmilk that it is best not to breastfeed. I sent her articles right back pointing out that formula m a d e with pesticide water is not any better than breastmilk with pesticides. Breastmilk is still better. It is interesting how any negative thing about breastfeeding a n d all of a sudden formula is better." Process of creating image; Ericg wgs very keen to creote imgges gnd gsked thgt they all reflect the act of breastfeeding.  51  Impact of actual images on participant; Erica was very pleased with the images produced, a n d chose a n image that showed her a n d Kea obviously e n g a g e d in the a c t of breastfeeding.  Participant #8: Keri a n d Riley Keri is a single mother, living with Erica a n d her family (see previous profile) in a rented house. She h a d also only b e e n breastfeeding for eight months, but was very keen to b e involved in the project.  Over the last two years breastfeeding has provided me with a few challenges and more cherished moments than I could ever have imagined. It has m a d e me question some beliefs and strengthened others. A b o v e all it has helped me form an unbreakable b o n d with my beautiful daughter. Through all the changes and milestones that have occurred from newborn to toddler the one constant has b e e n those big blue eyes staring up at me from fhe breast.  Keri, mother of Riley. 22 months  Image 8: Postcard Front for Keri and Riley  How Keri b e c a m e involved: Keri a n d I met through Erica (see previous profile). 52  Highlights of our meetings; Ericg gnd Keri met in their home with our children. We tolked gnd w g t c h e d our children ploy for o while. We retired to the kitchen to creote imgges, gs this wgs where the most notural light occurred. Afterwords, w e wglked to the locol community centre to ottend o l_g Leche Leggue meeting together. Sionificgnt follow-up; Keri moved out of the home she shored with Ericg gnd w e lost touch for owhile. We finally reconnected o n d cregted the postcord together. Reflection from Keri of why she chose to col la borate; Keri olso spoke of how important the breastfeeding relationship was to her as a mother; "In my mind, I assumed everybody wants to breostfeed. It wgs never g decision gbout whether I would breostfeed or not. I find I make assumptions that everyone is breostfeeding." Process of creoting imgge: Keri, like Ericg, wgs very keen to create images a n d asked that they all reflect the act of breastfeeding. Impgct of octugl imgges on porticipgnt; Keri, like Erico, wgs very plegsed with the imgges produced, o n d chose an image that showed her a n d Riley obviously e n g a g e d in the act of breastfeeding.  Participant #9: Jennifer Jennifer is a a d v o c a t e for natural living a n d social justice who lives  53  in a city in the southern USA. She is not a mother, but states she hopes to be in the future. How she b e c a m e involved; Jennifer c o n t a c t e d me through the project website after she had stumbled upon it. Highlights of our meetings; Jennifer joined to help distribute postcords. She wgs very enthusiostic e n d offered to help poy for the moiling costs, significont follow-up-Jennifer emails me on occasion to ask for more postcards a n d to let me know of other social justice causes I may be interested in. Reflection of her experience of participating; "Hi Laurel, Just wanted to let you know I've b e e n giving out the cards a n d "forgetting" them in the ladies' restroom, the ballet studio where I take class, my voice teacher's house (who's gay, but I thought, what the heck, every person's a c c e p t a n c e counts) stuck just inside little nooks a n d crannies at the gas pumps. I leave them on the table in restaurants with my tip. I've even gotten my grandmothers to hang o n e on their fridges. G a v e o n e e a c h to my aunts, who really flipped out a n d were more uncomfortable than anyone I've ever seen. It's b e e n fun. And I have to say quite intersecting to see what bf mommies are really up against. Not being o n e myself, I don't have first hand experience, but have heard  54  m a n y stories. I just d o n ' t s e e w h a t t h e b i g r u c k u s is. I h o p e y o u ' v e b e e n r e c e i v i n g m a n y requests for t h e c a r d s . As y o u k n o w , I've p a s s e d y o u r e m a i l a d d r e s s a r o u n d in h o p e s t h a t a h u g e c h u n k o f m y f r i e n d s a n d a c q u a i n t a n c e s will c o n t a c t y o u a n d h e l p p a s s t h e c a r d s o u t . I a c t u a l l y o n l y h a v e a c o u p l e left. S o I'd like t o h a v e s o m e m o r e . T h a n k s a g a i n . This is a g r e a t t h i n g ! "  In this s e c t i o n , I h a v e p r e s e n t e d profiles o f n i n e o f t h e w o m e n  who  p a r t i c i p a t e d in t h e N o r m a l i z i n g E x t e n d e d B r e a s t f e e d i n g p r o j e c t . In t h e n e x t s e c t i o n , I o u t l i n e m y o w n e x p e r i e n c e a s t h e artist.  Narrative Reflection of the Experience of the Artist in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project In this s e c t i o n , I s u m m a r i z e m y f i e l d n o t e s t h a t r e f l e c t m y e x p e r i e n c e a s t h e artist. Using t h e r e s e a r c h q u e s t i o n s a s a r e a s o f t h e m a t i c r e p o r t i n g , I p r e s e n t a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l d a t a in s e v e r a l a r e a s , i n c l u d i n g t a n g i b l e artworks, finding a n a u d i e n c e , t h e p r o c e s s of c r e a t i n g m y i m a g e , t h e i m p a c t of t h e i m a g e o n myself a n d m y family, a n d i m p a c t o n m y p e r s o n a l ('insider') a n d p r o f e s s i o n a l ( ' o u t s i d e r ' ) lives.  Tangible Artworks In o r d e r t o c r e a t e a v i s u a l l a n g u a g e , t h e i m a g e s a n d n a r r a t i v e s o f 55 .  the participants' extended breastfeeding experiences n e e d e d to b e injected into the public realm. My original thoughts were to use similar methods to artists Barbara Kruger a n d Jenny Holzer, w h o created artworks with publicly displayed LED (light emitting diode) signs, posters in bus shelters a n d billboards, t-shirts, postcards, a n d even shopping bags. The ultimate goal would b e to insert these images a n d narratives in public spaces. I had considered local community centres a n d the Public Library systems of the lower mainland as primary spaces to b e used. I felt the artworks to b e displayed n e e d e d equal weight given to text a n d image, as well as being focussed on the entire experience of mothering. I originally considered two formats; works for installation on walls will b e l l by 17 on foamcore backs (posters) a n d portable works printed on postcards with an outline of the project on the back. My final decision was to produce portable artworks that could b e carried, mailed, or inserted in magazines. The art could b e m a d e in my own home as a part of my daily life. So I bought a printer with high resolution a n d postcard paper. I designed the back of the cards, then the front. I wanted to have some way to support the postcards informationally, but not to dominate the project. I therefore d e c i d e d to create a website that would a d d to the process of the project. I was also a p p r o a c h e d to create larger versions of the postcards as posters-an  56  invitation from a local public health nurse-to put in the waiting room at her clinic. Ultimately I wanted the artworks to b e tangible. Portable. Easy to p l a c e into public spaces. Like currency.  to  Image 9: Postcard Back Finding an Audience  The process also included the dissemination of the artworks into the public realm. I wanted this to b e as much a part of the collaborative process as the first phase, so I focussed on inviting participants (present a n d new) to hand out the postcards. Through similar channels to the original invitations to participate (see Appendix C), with the addition of the website, many 'delivery' participants emerged.  Thanks for checking out Normalizing  Breastfeeding,  the  Visual Art Project devoted to making breastfeeding once again  the cultural norm. This website Is a work in progress. If you have links or other resources to contribute, please let us know at latuna biterrkiuigc.Kbc.eib Visual Art that  Normalizing  Breastfeeding  Educates/Advocates  Br*ailferfng Project  Information and links  Question?, o o r r r r e n t s . w a n t to g e t Involved? C o n t a c t the  artist.  Breastfeeding Ring [JbmNbM | Run Hub  Rmfcra|< < l»rev | Next » J  Image 10: Webpage  Homepage  In May 2001,1 submitted a proposal to exhibit this project as part of the "Art Among Our Shelves" exhibition partnering the Surrey Public Library System a n d the Surrey Art Gallery. If this proposal h a d b e e n a c c e p t e d , I would have h a d $2000 to spend on the project. Other possible partnerships included the Vancouver Regional Health Board Public Health Programme. Due to time constraints and lack of funding, I was unable to follow through on discussions to present this project to the Public Health Nurses in the Children's programme. Partnerships which did materialize were publicizing the project at the Guinness Record Breastfeeding Challenge for World Breastfeeding Week in Oct 2002 a n d partnering with Moms for Milk in Saskatchewan. Initial discussions with the Friends of Breastfeeding Society included a separate project which involved creating a calendar of images of breastfeeding w o m e n to celebrate 58  World Breastfeeding Week. This unfortunately did not materialize, due to changes in the Friends of Breastfeeding Society group structure a n d my lack of time for creating the images.  Image 11: Newspaper Article on the Breastfeeding  Challenge  I was also able to present this project at several conferences a n d to several groups of students in both my art education a n d nursing classes. Responses were varied, but most times e n d e d with mothers w h o had experienced breastfeeding approaching me, e a g e r to share their stories, triumphs a n d struggles. Incredibly personal stories of mothering a n d caring were shared as the classes left the room a n d the mothers were left sharing experiences. I felt I h a d helped to remove barriers a n d create a safe p l a c e to discuss these extraordinary/ordinary moments. I d o not know for sure if anyone actually c a m e to a different decision about breastfeeding as a result of being touched by the project. I may never  59  know. But it feels as though putting the energy out there to create a dialogue has b e e n worth the effort.  Personal ('insider') versus Professional ('outsider')  I, too, shared a n image a n d narrative of extended breastfeeding on the postcards. It was a n integral part of the philosophy that I participate a n d role model my beliefs as part of the project as a n 'insider'. The creation of the images for myself was in collaboration with my husband, w h o physically took the pictures while I guided him on what I c o n c e i v e d in my mind. We took images at several stages of the project (e.g. while I was pregnant, a n d after Noah was born) a n d in different situations. The image I e n d e d up using reflected my belief that if I was to support these w o m e n in portraying themselves in the a c t of breastfeeding, I n e e d e d to d o it myself. I therefore used the image of tandem nursing with my two children. This project involved my whole life. It was not something I could put a w a y in my studio a n d lock away. From using my own finances a n d resources to doing the project in the context of my everyday life, this project was d o n e with my children/studies/teaching/etc all co-existing around me. I b e g a n to wonder about mothering as a political act; What is it to b e a mother in our postmodern society? Before I h a d children, I  60  never thought further than mothering as just raising children...but here I was venturing into territory where I was mothering as a feminist activist a n d social contributor. Could mothering have a political a g e n d a as well? One resource I determined was the Association for Research in Mothering (ARM), out of York University in Ontario. ARM is self-described as "the first international feminist organization devoted specifically to the topic of mothering-motherhood" with the mandate of "providing a forum for the discussion a n d dissemination of feminist, a c a d e m i c a n d community, grassroots research, theory a n d praxis on mothering-motherhood" (ARM, 1999). I also responded to a call for subjects for a research study at the University of British Columbia on beliefs about mothering. Taking part in this study also triggered me to reflect on my beliefs a n d values, a n d the dominant discourse about mothering. Through these experiences, I was introduced into the multitudes of perspectives in the writings a n d research of motherhood.  Impact of Images on Myself and My Family  There were moments that I felt uncomfortable at my body being portrayed on some of the postcards, but I continued to put forth my postcards as a role model for the project.  61  When I was pregnant with Noah, I wondered about nursing both of them at once. Would I feel 'touched out'? Would it help with the transition? I'm so glad I have done it...its wonderful to see the bond growing between them! Laurel, mother of Diane Jean. 2.5 years and Noah. 3 weeks  Image 12: Postcard Front for Laurel, Diane Jean and Noah  My husband was always supportive of the image creation process a n d never questioned my final c h o i c e of image. He was very supportive of my desire to present a n image of the act of breastfeeding on the postcard a n d on the website. Ultimately, this visual art project sought to create a language through image a n d narrative to communicate a n d celebrate a subculture of mothers who choose to breastfeed their children past the "usual" 1 year a g e . Drawing from theorists who posit that a c o m m o n language is n e e d e d to speak or conceptualise of a c o n c e p t , a n d from  notions that especially visual images lend authority a n d "truth" to these concepts, I proposed that b e c a u s e there are few images of extended breastfeeding, this c o n c e p t is not addressed in our day to day lives. In this art project, a visual language (which is seen in our present (western) culture to especially give authority) creates a context for dialogue. Through this process, images a n d the notion of breastfeeding past one year of a g e aspire to b e c o m e "so c o m m o n they not only fuse with reality, but have also b e c o m e reality" (Debord, 1967). In the final section of this chapter, I present d a t a on the experience of the audience in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project.  Narrative Reflection of the Experience of the Audience in the Normalizing Breastfeeding Project  I have no definitive answers to my research questions in this third area. I had no specific feedback from e-mails, the website, or the participants about people's attitudes changing. My only definitive feedback was the direct impact I experienced when presenting to groups of students, at conferences, or to potential new collaborators. When presenting to groups of people 'outside' of the project, I was struck by mothers (of any a g e of children) approaching me afterwards to share their stories of breastfeeding. Many stayed long after the presentation to chat a n d linger, long after the rest of the class had left. Had I created a 63  safe environment in which to share these stories? On two occasions, members of the 'audience' reported to b e collecting information for family a n d friends who were trying to have children, or were currently pregnant. They seemed to be more e n g a g e d in the discussions of styles of parenting a n d dominant discourses of childrearing. Often, however, the most feedback I received was from 'the converted'-mothers who already had strong belief systems in support of extended breastfeeding. I received regular feedback from w o m e n who just wanted to voice their support for the project; although I did not record specific numbers, these emails numbered in the hundreds. The project was passed on by word of mouth a n d email forwarding to several other breastfeeding a d v o c a c y groups, who in turn would email me for more information to give to their members. In short, the most impact I c a n determine for the 'audience' is for those who would consider themselves 'insiders'. It seemed to contribute to the momentum already present in the political breastfeeding movement.  Summary In the preceding sections, I have presented d a t a on the experiences of the participants, artist, a n d audience. Using thematic reporting, I have attempted to gain insight into my research questions. The next section attempts to interpret a n d discuss the d a t a , ultimately drawing 64  conclusions a n d implications for teaching a n d for future research.  Chapter 5 Interpretations, Discussion, and Conclusions  As the data from this study were interpreted a n d conclusions were drawn, the three research questions were reviewed a n d used to organize the three sections of this chapter. The first two sections present conclusions about the experience of the participants a n d artist in the Normalizing Breastfeeding Project. The last section reflects the third research question, about the experience of the audience.  Interpretations  Experience of the participants in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project Five themes were identified from the dotg presented in the previous chopter; child-centeredness, defining self as a breastfeeding a d v o c a t e , a belief in the normalcy of breastfeeding based on a knowledge base, beliefs about politics, a n d risk-taking. All of the mothers in the study defined themselves as purposefully leading child-centered lives; for example, minimizing childcare, eating organic foods, co-sleeping, seeking paid employment that could b e d o n e in their home. They all saw breastfeeding as a logical part of this perspective on childrearing. The majority of the participants in the project a p p r o a c h e d me to b e c o m e involved. They saw themselves as having a strong belief system 66  about mothering a n d breastfeeding a n d were inspired to operationalise these beliefs. Most of the mothers defined themselves as advocates to the dialogue on extended breastfeeding. Many belonged to at least two breastfeeding groups a n d had a circle of friends who considered themselves to be breastfeeding friendly. They considered themselves to b e highly informed about the issues surrounding extended breastfeeding a n d their belief in the normalcy of breastfeeding was based on a  theoretical knowledge base (for example, a background in biology, midwifery, or public health). Differing views were found a m o n g the participants related to beliefs about politics; a majority of the participants strongly defined themselves as becoming involved in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project because of a desire to make a political statement. Stating such reasons as "being a rebel", "wanting to set a n example" a n d "having a responsibility", several of the mothers were pleased to b e able to operationalize their beliefs about breastfeeding through this project. A smaller number of participants declined to define their motives politically, choosing terminology such as "just setting a n example". All of the mothers, however, voiced a desire to use the project as a way to put action to their beliefs about mothering a n d breastfeeding, a n d felt a positive boost to their self-esteem in the process.  67  Three of the participants specifically spoke of the risk-taking they felt in their experience of participating in the project. O n e of the mothers chose to alter her image based on her discomfort, as well as needing to confer with her partner about the image she chose.  Experience of the Artist in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project Six themes were identified from the dotg presented in the previous chopter; immersion, role-modelling, e b b o n d flow, mothering os g politicol get, o n d technicgl chgllenges. The notion of immersion wgs g theme thgt grose from the dotg. As the artist in this project, I lived many of my roles simultaneously a n d created the project on a daily basis, instead of the Western notion of creating works alone in a studio space. From going to the playground with my children a n d happening to meet potential collaborators, to participating in a research study on mothering that impacted my reflections about what it is to b e a mother-artist, to role modelling my beliefs about what it is to b e a mother/artist/researcher, e a c h a r e a of my life impacted on the others to fuel the learning/research/creative process. The theme of role-modelling, or operationalizing/ do-ing my beliefs inherent in this project was another thread woven throughout the d a t a . I  68  would proudly breastfeed in public. I would try to promote a more childcentred environment by bringing my children into my art project a n d research. In role-modelling artist as researcher a n d artist as c h a n g e agent, I presented to my groups of art education a n d nursing students, as well as colleagues in e a c h of those areas. I was trying to live the art process on an everyday level. The project gained a n d lost momentum at many points in the project, a n d I had to c o m e to terms with a natural ebb and flow within the project. For example, when my son Noah as born, most of the aspects of the project took a backseat to the mothering role. Another example was finances; as a graduate student with two children, my husband a n d I simply ran out of money to fund the film, website, postcard paper, printer, stamps, etc. so the project coasted again. What is mothering? What is my style/beliefs about mothering? Living this project has e n a b l e d me to examine a n d reflect upon my beliefs a n d values about mothering. Do mothers act politically? Is it possible, as Green (1999) states, to live feminism through mothering? To actively participate in one's childrens' lives a n d proudly value the work o n e does as a mother, as well as educating a n d politicizing those around her as she role models her beliefs about parenting is an incredible feminist statement. The last theme I will draw from this d a t a is related to technical  69  challenges. I determined many aspects of community-based art making that I had not known before; that community art is expensive, a n d that if I had had more funds, the project would have b e e n entirely different; the stress a n d impact the project had on my family; a n d the importance of networking at the grassroots level.  Experience of the Audience of the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project Two themes were identified from the dotg presented in the previous chopter; the creotion of a 'safe' environment to disclose their challenges/feelings, a n d the lack of clear d a t a on whether the project created informed consent or dialogue. Although it was clear that the 'audiences' I e n g a g e d with were impacted by the images a n d stories of mothers who practiced extended breastfeeding, I did not get a clear idea if any of the individuals h a d actually changed opinions. The project seemed to b e based on a sense of faith or hope, instead of teaching a n d role modelling. However, mothers who had breastfed seemed to b e inspired a n d comforted by the images a n d stories present in the project. Mothers stayed well after the presentation to a p p r o a c h me to tell their stories a n d to disclose their challenges/feelings around mothering a n d  70  breastfeeding.  Discussion  In examining all the interpretations from the themes present in the d a t a , several areas prompt further discussion a n d analysis; the organic nature of the project, clarity of intentions, the nature of the audience, a n d role-modelling.  Organic Nature of the Project  The experience of community-based art making is necessarily cumbersome, messy a n d slow. For e a c h of the three groups identified in the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding project, the experience was a living process without clear answers a n d outcomes. The literature indicates that one of the elements in successful arts-based community development is understanding that there are no shortcuts to participatory artmaking (Cleveland, 1999), a n d that e a c h community's cultural, social a n d political ecology is unique. Process, rather than product, is a focus; "even though it takes ten times more energy to find consensus a n d get things done, the results make the journey worthwhile". Relationships a n d partnerships are central to community-based art making projects . This is reflected in the literature associated with community-based art making projects, which indicates that effective community-based work is about  partnership (Cleveland, 1999), a n d that productive collaborations tend to b e initiated from within the community itself.  Clear intentions produce better outcomes.  Because this project b e g a n very deliberately a n d slowly as a community-based project, I was sharing control of this project with the participants. Initially, I did not have a high degree of clarity about the roles of the participants a n d the overall anticipated outcomes or artworks of the project. Cleveland (1999) indicates that social, e c o n o m i c , political a n d artistic goals are not necessarily incompatible; "while their combining increases the complexity of the work, the potential for extraordinary outcomes on all fronts may b e raised exponentially. All this makes the work far more d e m a n d i n g " (p. 10).  Insiders versus Outsiders; Who IS the audience?  Although the audience was defined initially as those 'outside' of the project, this line b e c a m e blurred as the life of the project unfolded. Those who considered themselves to b e 'insiders', or advocates of breastfeeding, e n d e d up being as much viewers of a n d therefore affected by the art works. These newly defined audience members seemed to appreciate the underlying beliefs of the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding project as a way to further the political momentum already 72  p r e s e n t in t h e s y s t e m .  Operationatizing/Role-modelling Beliefs on Breastfeeding A l t h o u g h t h e participants h a d differing views o n w h e t h e r t h e y c o n s i d e r e d t h e i r m o t i v a t i o n t o p a r t i c i p a t e in t h e s t u d y t o b e p o l i t i c a l o r not, all of t h e w o m e n p e r c e i v e d t h e m s e l v e s t o b e a c t i n g c o n g r u e n t l y with their beliefs o n e x t e n d e d b r e a s t f e e d i n g . M o t h e r i n g w a s a strong t h e m e f o r b o t h p a r t i c i p a n t s a n d t h e artist; t h a t b e i n g a p a r t o f this p r o j e c t f u r t h e r e d m o r e t h a n just b r e a s t f e e d i n g , b u t t h e e n t i r e c a u s e o f m o t h e r i n g .  Conclusions This c h a p t e r utilises t h e t h r e e r e s e a r c h q u e s t i o n s t o i n t e r p r e t t h e d a t a r e p o r t e d in c h a p t e r 4 . T h e m e t a - t h e m e s o f t h e o r g a n i c n a t u r e o f t h e project, clarity of intentions, t h e n a t u r e of t h e a u d i e n c e , a n d rolem o d e l l i n g a r e r a i s e d a g a i n in t h e d i s c u s s i o n s e c t i o n . In t h e f i n a l c h a p t e r o f this thesis, I s u m m a r i z e t h e f i n d i n g s a n d d i s c u s s t h e i m p a c t o n art e d u c a t i o n theory a n d practice.  73  Chapter 6 Summary and Implications  The findings from this research project provide information about the specific experience of this community-based art making project. My intent a n d hope is that this information has b e e n richly presented to allow transfer of these insights to other similar situations in community-based art making a n d in the incorporation of community-based art making in art education curricula. In this chapter, I will attempt to summarize the research findings, through an examination of the success of the project, the potential impact on art education, a n d through a proposal of areas of potential further research.  Was this project successful?  In terms of the Normalizing Extended Breastfeeding Project itself, I believe that it was only moderately successful, due to challenges outlined earlier in this document. I a m unsure if it really m a d e a n impact on those on the 'outside' of the political breastfeeding movement, but I believe I have presented d a t a that indicate that the project did impact the lives of 'insiders'.  Why is this research significant for Art Education?  This research sought to impact art education in two ways; to describe the experience of community-based art making a n d to 74  contribute to the d i a l o g u e a b o u t t h e incorporation of c o m m u n i t y - b a s e d art m a k i n g in a n e d u c a t i o n c u r r i c u l a . 1  This r e s e a r c h c o n t r i b u t e s t o t h e d i a l o g u e c o n c e r n e d w i t h researching p r a c t i c e , as well as the d i a l o g u e o n defining c o m m u n i t y b a s e d art m a k i n g . T h e r e is a l o n g history o f t h e arts c r e a t i n g a w a r e n e s s o f s o c i a l issues a n d l e a d i n g t o s o c i a l c h a n g e , b u t in W e s t e r n s o c i e t y t h e arts h a v e b e e n mostly e q u a t e d with entertainment a n d c e l e b r a t i o n . R e c e n t l y , issues s u c h a s t h e e n v i r o n m e n t , p o v e r t y , a n d h u m a n rights a r e b e c o m i n g i n c r e a s i n g l y r e c o g n i s e d a s i m p o r t a n t issues in art, a n d art e d u c a t o r s a n d artists a r e u s i n g art t o a d d r e s s s o c i a l issues a n d t o c r e a t e n e w f o r m s o f a r t . E x p l o r i n g t h e issue o f ' w h y ' w e m a k e a r t s t r e n g t h e n s t h e links b e t w e e n t h e arts a n d t e a c h i n g f o r s o c i a l j u s t i c e , m a k i n g t h e m l o g i c a l p a r t n e r s in t h e c l a s s r o o m ( L o p e z e t a l . , 2 0 0 2 ) . Although  m a n y e d u c a t o r s a r e personally c o m m i t t e d to the notion  o f t e a c h i n g f o r s o c i a l j u s t i c e , t h e o p e r a t i o n a l i z i n g o f this in t h e c l a s s r o o m c a n b e c h a l l e n g i n g . Having the l a n g u a g e a n d narrative to b e a b l e to discuss t h e e x p e r i e n c e s o f c r e a t i n g c o m m u n i t y - b a s e d art m a k i n g c a n f a c i l i t a t e t h e b r e a k i n g d o w n o f s o m e o f t h e s e barriers a n d t h e r e f o r e t h e i n c l u s i o n o f m o r e o f this k i n d o f a r t m a k i n g i n t o t h e c l a s s r o o m s e t t i n g .  Application to Art Education Teaching Practice  75  Many art educators believe that the social is critical to the understanding a n d knowing of art; "the social is part of how w e c o m e to know art a n d should b e a part of how w e teach art"(Garber, 2002, p. 162). However, operationalizing these beliefs in the classroom c a n b e challenging. There is often a split between the theories a n d beliefs of art education a n d between the actual practice of art education, where curriculum is a mere recitation of what has been, rather than an exploration of what c a n b e (Gude, 2003). Many art educators argue that educators are "imaging their curriculum within the style, content, a n d methods of their earlier education, rather than reflecting the reality of contemporary art a n d their own understandings of contemporary culture" (Neperud, 1995). The teaching situations for art teachers today are very different from those of even a d e c a d e a g o . C h a n g e d circumstances both within a n d outside schools have brought new pressures to bear on teachers a n d students alike. Single parent families, problems with drugs a n d alcohol, racial tensions, a n d poverty are but some of the social variables defining the circumstances in which many children grow up today (Neperud, 1995). Children a n d youth experience not only physiological a n d maturational changes in "growing up," but also the social influences of their diverse environments. Teachers see the result of these influences in  76  behavior that doesn't always coincide with their formal education preparations a n d goals (Duncum, 1990). Utilizing approaches a n d examples from community-based art making practice c a n facilitate the students, who typically narrowly define the field of art a n d believe themselves to b e locked outside the boundaries of the discipline, to question underlying assumptions about what a n artist does (Smith-Shank, 1995). This opens up new possibilities of understanding how artists a n d the arts c a n play active roles in shaping environments in which w e live a n d work.  Suggestions for further research  Although there is some research focused on the practice of community-based art making by art educators (for example, Miller (2002), there needs to b e more study on the experience of these artist-educators a n d how this art making impacts their teaching practice. Research that utilises a similar methodology to this study, but examines the experiences of educator-artists would b e a useful addition to the literature. I propose this methodology be triangulated with visual, interview, a n d narrative d a t a . This would allow for the visual language of these educator-artists to b e utilised, to allow for a broader variety of ways of knowing.  In this chapter, I have attempted to summarize the research 77  findings, through an examination of the success of the project, the potential impact on art education, a n d through a proposal of areas of potential further research.  Overall Summary  The purpose of this research was to investigate the experience of a specific collaborative art making project for the participants, audience a n d myself, as the artist. The research, consisting of two overlapping phases, was c o n d u c t e d using a series of descriptive case studies. Phase one of the study consisted of the art project itself. Phase two examined the experience of the w o m e n involved in the project, the 'audience' of the work, a n d myself as the artist. Insights into the experience of community-based art making projects suggest important implications. Themes included the notion of mothering as a political act a n d the realization that art making outside of the cultural norm is expensive, undervalued a n d requires extensive networking skills. Because this form of art making has not b e e n traditionally valued, there is a paucity of related research describing the impact of this genre of art making on those involved. This thesis is built upon the belief that examining these experiences will both celebrate community-based art making a n d facilitate dialogue that may encourage a n d validate this type of work, ultimately to b e able to e n h a n c e artistic practice in art 78  education a n d to facilitate art education curricula that incorporate community-based art making practice.  References  Aoki, T. (1993). Legitimating lived curriculum: Towards a curricular landscape of multiplicity, Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 8(3), 255268. Association for Research in Mothering (1999). Mission Statement, York University, Toronto. Art in the Public Interest (2001). Philosophy of API, Accessed October 2001 at www.apionline.org/apiinfo.html Apple, R.D. (1987). Mothers and Medicine: A Social History of Infant Feeding, 1890-1950, USA: University of Wisconsin Press. Ball, L. (1990). What Role: Artist or Teacher?, Art Education, January, 5459. Barthes,R. (1977). Image-music-text. (S. 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A History of the Breast, New York: Knopf.  Appendix B  Interview Questions for Initial Interview Sessions  Please note that these questions are used in a n o p e n - e n d e d interview  process, where the purpose is to elicit the collaborator's  narratives, or stories about their breastfeeding experience.  1. What are some of your stories about breastfeeding? 2. What are some of the highs a n d lows of your  breastfeeding  experiences? 3. Why d o you breastfeed? 4. Who are your major supports for extended breastfeeding? 5. How long d o you plan to breastfeed? 6. What d o you foresee for the future of your breastfeeding experience? 7. Do you have anything to a d d to what w e have already spoken about? 8. What brought you to b e involved in this project?  89  

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