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Full Time Basis: MA Art and Design Definitive Practice

Throughout the spring and summer of 2019 I produced my MA Thesis, Definitive Practice. The purpose of this study was to define the landscape in which my practice exists. As an art educator, my practice is multidisciplinary, spanning two sectors, that of the art, design and the creative and cultural industries and the education sector. There is a natural crossover that occurs when working as a dual professional across these sectors and issues of identity and balance are common as explored by researchers such as Daichendt (2010), Thornton (2013), Anderson (1981), Zwirn (2002) and Prentice (2002). Within this study, I aimed to explore and analyse the themes and strategies examined by these researchers through an in-depth study of artist teachers, their pedagogy and practice which I used to interrogate my own artist teacher identity through action research. The goal of this action research was to identify strategies for developing balance within my practice, a space to interrogate the identity issues I have experienced as a dual professional and offer the opportunity to explore the work I do as a creative act.
‘The preconceived notion that the art educator must conform and identify with only one of these fields or professions only lays the foundation for creative, intellectual, personal and professional stagnation’ (Anderson, 1981). Anderson makes a valid point in her 1981 journal article The Identity Crisis of the Art Educator: Artist? Teacher? Both?, one which I have personally struggled with at length since beginning my career in 2011. To define my practice or identify the landscape in which my practice exists, I studied artist teachers from the 19th and 20th century. The analysis of their pedagogy provided a framework for critical reflection on my body of work. I have chosen to highlight key figures in the development of the artist teacher identity whom I feel parity with within my own practice or the struggle to define it.
A key element of the MA Thesis submission was a visual presentation of the culmination of my practice to a professional audience demonstrating a sophisticated awareness of the appropriate platforms and conventions within my field. I chose to present my thesis visually through the use of photography, publications and other printed matter created by me, my students, participants in my study and research subjects. Everything was arranged around a lamp I made from an old light fixture from the bathroom of my old house where I set up a DIY screenprinting workshop that essentially served as my studio for the first year I lived and worked in Manchester. The 'studio in use' signage is set in Futura, inspired by the circle, it was the perfect typeface to reflect the cyclic nature of searching for the right definition of my multifaceted practice. The lamp served as a visual representation of the realisation that my practice belongs in the studio but no one said that studio couldn't also be a classroom.
You can read the full study here.
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