A Metonymic Metissage
Rita L. Irwin

In Western history, it was Aristotle who attempted to resolve an apparent conflict between the arts and philosophy, a relationship believed to be unjust by Plato. Aristotle articulated "three kinds of 'thought': knowing (theoria), doing
(praxis), and making (poesis), the latter including poetry as well as other pro-

ductive arts" (Sullivan 2000, n.p.). In more recent times, Dewey's work suggests that an aesthetic experience "involves a clear continuity between doings and undergoings; the effort integrates intellect, feeling and practical functions; and the overall result is a kind of consummation pervaded by meaning, a predominant emotion, and practical resolution" (Sullivan 2000, n.p.). While ordinary experience would not hold such purpose and integrative aspects, for Dewey (1934), works of art held the most promise for exemplifying all of these qualities and could provide an aesthetic experience (also see Jackson 1998). Understanding these three forms of thought has always been of interest to arts educators and those interested in accessing the arts as a means to enhance their own understanding of ideas and practices. For both specialists and generalists, the arts have opened up new possibilities for meaning-making that may have been stifled otherwise. All around us, educational researchers are experimenting with different ways of collecting, presenting, and representing research and inquiry In the 1970s, Eisner's groundbreaking work in educational connoisseurship and criticism (1979, 1991) used examples from the visual arts (and the other arts) as he described the role and practice of educational critics researching educational settings. Over the last decade, we have witnessed the growth of arts-based forms of research through narrative, autobiography,


praxis. A/r/t as Metissage. if preference needs to be given to one of the two. In the past. reader's theatre. poetic inquiry. and in education this usually means favouring theory over practice. Over the last two decades. If we resist this favouritism and move to embracing theoria. thereby allowing the inherent concepts to vibrate constantly with active energy. and art/making (see also de Cosson 2000. not only as separate entities but also as connected and integrated identities that remain ever present in our work.Although a dialectical stance assists many educational endeavours. we are moving to a more complex intertextuality and intratextuality of categories. Mastri. Irwin et al. Wilson et al. Springgay and Irwin in press. Springgay 2002a. teaching. dialectical relationships between categories of thought became more prominent. In . praxis. 2002.28 A/r/tography performative ethnography. Springgay et al. leading to hierarchical considerations. We begin with these three roles and three forms of thought. 2001. Irwin. and Reynolds 2000. among many other creative forms of inquiry. an in-between space that exists between and among categories. we share a number of artist-researcher-teacher accounts of their work as they attempt to integrate theoria. 1998. and Robertson 2000. Irwin. In this book. and self-study. 2002b. and art-making. Irwin et al. and poesis. From this perspective. it would be practice rather than ~heory. and feelings-we interweaving and intraweaving of concepts. and art-making as activities that weave in and through one another-an activities. A dialectical perspective views categories of thought as being in equal relationship to one another. 2002). research. 2001. 2002. teachingllearning. are creating fabrics of similarity and difference. Irwin 1999. teaching. A dialectical stance no longer works unless we push the very nature of the intention embodied within a dialectical stance to a multilectical view that encourages thirdness. put another way. dichotomous thinking separated categories of thought and often placed one form above another. theory and practice are not viewed as dichotomous but rather as dialectical and. and poesis or. McNiff's art -based research (1998) for art therapists has been informative for educators. Relationships between and among these forms of thought are critical to our work. or theory/ research. but is unable to meet the needs of researchers wishing to integrate the visual arts into educational research methods. it still favours two categories. Rogers. A/r/tography as Living Inquiry If we conceive of researching.

doing. and making. a third space offers a point of convergenceyet respect for divergence-where differences and similarities are woven together. offer an aesthetic experience for those witnessing the profound integration. Works of art created in this thirdness hold great promise because they attempt to integrate all of these features and. there is at once an acceptance of playing with particular categories and a refusal to be aligned with anyone category Where two would be inclined to dialogic opposition. our work. in press. an existence that desires an aesthetic experience found in an elegance of flow between intellect. there are multiple identities. and reconstitute one another (Smith 1993. metissage is a language of the borderlands. They embrace a metissage existence that integrates knowing. The geographical trope is at once psychological. in press). and practice (see also Linstead and Hopfl 2000). Artist-researcher-teachers are inhabitants of these borderlands as they recreate. . re-living. They are living a thirdness. 169). From a socio-cultural perspective. contest. They yearn for enhanced meaning. and ourselves (Aoki. a new third' world in which tradition no longer constitutes true identity: instead. Those who live in the borderlands are re-thinking. Perhaps it is in the "making" of our work as artist-researcher-teachers that we can best confront the metaphoric and metonymic properties of the thirdness embedded in our roles. and spiritual. and they long for their own self-expressions of certainty and ambiguity Often in this questioning comes a softening spirit \ '~l i: . Perhaps all educators desire to become artist-researcherteachers when they begin to question how they were taught and how traditional methods lack life and living (Garoian 1999). and re-making the terms of their identities as they confront difference and similarity in apparently contradictory worlds (Rogoff 2000).Introduction 29 these interlingual acts. these borderlands are acts of metissage that strategically erase the borders and barriers once sustained between the colonizer and the colonized. feeling. physical. metaphysical. as a result. appreciating. and re-learn ways of understanding. they wish to create. The typography of the borderlands is simultaneously the suturing space of multiple oppressions and the potentially liberatory space through which to migrate toward a new subject position. of English-French. and representing the world (see Finley and Knowles 1995). Metaphorically. since it functions as a space where cultures conflict. of male-female. of autobiography-ethnography. re-search. Pinar and Irwin.

slashes. These notions reveal a long-standing metaphor: "Theory is architecture. of resolution and continuous growth. translation. The processes and products are aesthetic experiences unto themselves because they integrate three (or possibly more) forms of thought. Metissage is an act of interdisciplinarity. In the early 1980s Lakoff and Johnson (1980) articulated how metaphors situate theoretical arguments in conscious and unconscious ways. Through comparison. spiritual. look for support. of nurturing and withholding. doing. and making. and teachers. There's a desire to explore new territory (see Fox and Geichman 2001). many of us have been taught to construct a thesis. are the most exemplary forms of integrating knowing. There's a desire to live in a space of similarity and difference. Our choice of language acts through metaphors. we create. we are adopting an image that is both modernist and postmodernist. and physical site intersubjectively and intrasubjectively situated in and through dialogue. psychological. The roles of artist-researcher-teacher often cause inner struggles as individuals attempt to o . relating. bridges. It is about living in the borderlands. and creates other forms of thirdness that provide the space for exploration. _l carry the weight of disciplinary traditions and achievements while experimenting with and creating new forms of knowing. I~is also a metaphor for the very processes and products that are created and used within this activity. I . social. Nr/t not only recognizes the roles individuals must play. As Richardson points out (2000. moments. teach foundations. It hyphenates. a borderland of reformation and transformation. and making. Metissage is a metaphor for artist-researcher-teachers who integrate these roles in their personal and professional lives. pedagogical. it also affords all of us an imaginative tum as we come to understand and appreciate that the processes and products involved in creating works of art." When we adopt a/r/t as metissage. That is why the acronym a/rlt is so appropriate. and perceiving. yet teachable. doing.30 A/r/tography towards the self. Metissage is usually recognized in hyphenated relationships. whether they are objects or professional performances. a geographical. and build frameworks. Nr/t as metissage is a powerful metaphor because it helps us in "experiencing and understanding one thing in terms of another" (Richardson 2000. 'i. 927). the spaces between and amidst artists. It is in this integration that convergence and divergence must work together to resolve contradictory. researchers. and understanding in deeper and more enhanced ways of meaning-making. It is not about dichotomous thinking but rather dialogical thinking. 926).

My definition enlarges his so that research is the enhancement of meaning created. and making through aesthetic experiences that convey meaning rather than facts (Silverman 2000). Stewart 2002. in preparation. and teachers. and questioning their positions as they integrate knowing. experiences that value complexity and difference within a third space. Weber and Mitchell 1996). and transformed. They perform as artists. It is in this sensory-filled place that metaphor and metonymy help us to understand a/r/tography Theory as alrltography creates an imaginative turn by theorizing or explaining phenomena through aesthetic experiences that integrate knowing. Image and text do not duplicate one another but rather teach something different yet similar. Rose 2001. and teaching as I have visualized them. and transformed over time. Nr/tographers are living their practices. recreated. Rogoff2001. There are spaces between and spaces between the inbetween. recreated. refuting. There are multiple borders diffused again and again. but not touching. I offer these ideas. while "performing writing" (Pollock 1998. What then are art. doing. representing their understandings. Artistresearcher-teachers live a contiguous life. Pink 2001.Introduction 31 Nr/tography goes beyond the double visioning of art and a/r/t to include a further doubling of a/r/t and writing or "graphy" Art and writing unite the visual and textual by complementing.2002). allowing us to inquire more deeply into our practices (see Pearse 1994. Prosser 1998. Art is the visual reorganization of experience that renders complex the apparently simple or simplifies the apparently complex. Research is the enhancement of meaning' revealed through ongoing interpretations of complex relationships that are continually created. a life that connects the three roles through image and text for a period of time only to find moments when these roles or acts of inquiry shift to be close-adjacent. Teaching is performative knowing in meaningful relationships with learners. and teaching? Understanding theory as a/r/tography. it seems appropriate to suggest that theory ~ as alrltography as metissage blurs and situates acts of similarity and difference as well as metaphor and metonymy Nr/tography becomes that third space between theory and metissage while opening up the spaces between artistresearcher-teacher. research. and making: experiences that simultaneously value technique and content through acts of inquiry. 2002 b. researchers. doing. 73) and art-making (Wilson et a1. And yet all the I I thank Tom Barone for making this distinction at a seminar in Palo Alto in January 2001. There is time and space for each to be emphasized or reconstituted. Understanding theory as a/r/t and understanding art. research. Sullivan 2002a. or enhancing one another. Watrin 1999. .

32 A/r/tography while. and merge again and again. and interpretive ways within educational and research communities. images. Foster 1998). 926) discussion of narrative writing may assist here. may only be able to enter the visual world through superficial means unless they are guided by narrative text. popular culture. Claiming to write "fiction" is different from claiming to write "science" in terms of the audience one seeks. Artist-researcher-teachers may know that the visual image is a complex site of information that may speak a thousand words. we do not dismiss the lands that create the blurred perimeter of the borderlands. With presence comes absence. Richardsons (2000. knowing multiple variations exist between each. These differences should not -be overlooked. when one recognizes the need to exhibit works of alr/t as . however. Yet it receives much less attention than narrative as a way of understanding the world in deeply profound. while imagining and forming different relationships amongst people and ideas. In this sense. I would contend that there is still one major difference separating fiction from science writing. The difference is not whether the text really is fiction or nonfiction. Some people might disagree and state that visual imagery is a form of text and therefore doesn't need any additional narrative text. pull apart. Interestingly. and despite our contemporary understanding that all writing is narrative writing. Theory as a/r/tography as metissage reveals the need to immerse oneself in a collection of ideas. and cultural activities (Barnard 2001. and artifacts within the borderlands. those who have not been immersed in a textual analysis of imagery. information. but the claim the author makes for the text. with light comes darkness. and a/r/tography as metissage is at once visual and interlingual. tradition. Different texts. and languages merge. Visual imagery surrounds and confronts us regularly through the media. ritual. and how one expects "truth claims" to be evaluated. those who have studied visual matters intensely may engage deeply with the subjects and objects of this visual world. the impact one might have on different publics. and with sadness comes joy. or who have become anaesthetized to the language of imagery. Theory as alr/t is at once textual and visual. the role of the audience is very important. analytic. She says: Despite the actual blurring of genres. semiotic. Theory is not limited to but includes textual discussion and analysis set within and/or alongside visual imagery of educational phenomena and/or performance.

and teaching are not done. new knowledge affects . . for not only do they acknowledge the importance of self and collective interpretation. politically. the integration of text and image is an act of borderland pedagogy. and understanding. They recognize that art. Borrowing from the notion that action research is a living practice. the relationship between author/artist and audience takes on a pedagogical turn. Teachers perform their knowing through visual and textual means with the learner's need and readiness in mind.. a life that intentionally sets out to perceive things differently.Introduction 33 theory as metissage. xvii-xviii) state: [A]ction research has been fundamentally concerned with creating situations where knowledge and understanding are produced through the process of inquiry. A/r/tography To live the life of an artist who is also a researcher and teacher is to live a life of awareness. dialogue. ~r/tography as metissage is a powerful pedagogical source for relationship sharing. and socially affected conditions of its production. and through a hermeneutic circle of interpretation and understanding. Those living in the borderlands of a/r/t recognize the vitality of living in an in-between space. The knowledge that is produced through action research is always knowledge about one's self and one's relations to particular communities.. research. In this sense. Nr/tography as metissage involves teaching and learning: it accepts responsibility for oneself as a learner and for establishing meaningful relationships with others who are also learners. but they deeply understand that these interpretations are always in a state of becoming and can never be fixed into predetermined and static categories. a way of sharing a third space between knowing and ignorance. but lived. As artist-researcher-teachers living metissage and living theory. action research practices are deeply hermeneutic and postmodern practices. culturally. Action research knowledge is not considered apart from historically. Carson and Sumara (1997. The lived experiences and practices are inherent in the production of works of a/r/t and writing (graphy) made by individuals creating and recreating their lives. Thought and action are inextricably linked. a life that permits openness to the complexity around us.

bringing each person's biography and values to the interpretation. life-creating experience (Irwin et al. Their work is both science and art (Eisner and Powell 2002). the hermeneutic circle is a theory which is experienced as participatory phenomena. The intention is not to explain (flatten out) for control purposes. For Whitehead (1966. cultural. CAP ethnography displays the "writing process and the writing product as deeply intertwined" (930). identity. and performing their pedagogical positions as they integrate knowing. 2001). interpretation. they seek to enhance meaning rather than certainty (see Ellis and Bochner 2000. She believes that the ethnographic genre has been enlarged to include multiple practices that may be called "creative analytic practice ethnography" (929). Much of what Richardson talks about rings true for a/r/tography It may be that the latter is a variation upon a theme. where the person engages in dialogue with theory. In this way. 176). when inquiry is oriented to an individual who consciously alters his or her perceptions and actions. For her. and historical contexts. but it is closer to art and as such. and making through aesthetic experiences that convey meaning rather than facts (see Greene 1995). practices. a life-writing. Neither can be separated from the other. reflection. What a/r/tography does offer that is different from other forms of blurred . doing. Inquiry that may be called action research or autoethnography is well suited to the borderlands because it includes any form of inquiry that attempts to confront complexity among human relations within their temporal. the circle is unbroken: action-reflection-action-reflection and so on. representing their understandings. and teaching: a living metissage. transforrnative practices emerge (see also Low and Palulis 2000). They are a/r/tographers representing their questions. As well. the artists/writers/teachers who share their living practices with us in this book are searching for new ways to understand their practices as artists. and teachers. research.751). Nr/tography is a living practice of art. meditation.34 A/r/tography existing knowledge that in turn affects the freshly conceived existing knowledge (see Grumet and Pinar 1976). but to reinterpret in order to provide greater grounding for understanding. spatial. and creative analytic texts. and representation. researchers. Through attention to memory. emergent understandings. They are living their work. storytelling. Richardson (2000) has reviewed the field of alternative and complementary forms of inquiry generated over the last decade or so.

and teachers sharing their life stories with you throughout this volume. represent. and the presence of heightened ambiguity (see also Barone 2001). Barone and Eisner (1997) suggest that several aesthetic features could inform such practice. For instance. I end with an invitation. the capacity of the text to evoke alternate realities. The in-between spaces narratively explored through image and text create a complex mix of ideas within curriculum and leadership that generate caring for the creation of self through aesthetic excursions and incursions experienced in the recursive inquiry of alr/tography You may wish to view/read my account of these borderlands as another example of alr/tography to complement the chapters within this volume (see Irwin 2003). they ask us to consider the use of contextual and vernacular forms of language. They practice their art-making in and through time. Several theorists have tried to articulate how one might assess arts-based forms of research. picture. not only in their teachingllearning practices. 937) suggests five criteria for reviewing what she calls creative analytic practices (CAP) in ethnographies: substantive contribution.Introduction 35 genre writing and creating within educational research is an emphasis upon the image. researchers. Theory as alr/tography as metissage is a way for those of us living in the borderlands to creatively engage with self and others as we re-imagine our life histories in and through time. They visualize. The original image is a metaphor for the borderlands of my experience as an artist/researcher/teacher. imagine. The artist-researcher-teachers represented in this volume are all visual artists and researchers and teachers. Richardson (2000. I also share criteria as a way for you to become engaged with the artists. interpretations. you are invited to consider the criteria these theorists suggest and to reconsider these criteria as we work together to understand arts-based research. impact. They search for ways to embrace images in their processes and products. reflexivity. Yet the image on the cover stands as a metonymic representation of this experience. and actions in ways that complement and/or disrupt their written texts. and collage their reflections. But . Two perspectives are particularly informative. Although I have not included my own alr/tographical account in this opening chapter. the use of expressive rhetorical devices (such as metaphor) to recreate experiences. Nr/tography is a form of representation that privileges both text and image as they meet within moments of metissage. create. and expression of reality As a reader experiencing this volume. install. but in their research! inquiry practices as well. The cover of this volume has an will image from a recent painting series I completed. aesthetic merit.

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