My intention in this study is to examine the experiences of visual artists who involve themselves in community-based arts practice(s). By engaging in a dialogue with artists who work in this way, my aim is to gain and provide some insight into how they, as artists, make meaning or learn from these situations, and how this in turn shapes them. The proposition I am exploring is that when artists are involved in community-based arts practice they learn about their identity/ies. The artists who are the focus of the study reside and conduct their work in regional Australia. A consideration of literature is outlined in this thesis that relates to arts practices, notions of identity and ways of viewing experience and learning. The conceptual framework adopted for this study is based on sociological perspectives (Bourdieu; Giddens, 1991) and social psychology (Cote & Levine, 2002; Mishler; 1999), where the interplay between our internal, subjective or agentic (Cote & Levine, 2002) world and the external, objective structural world interact to mediate our learning and identities. Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) concepts of rhizomatics and becoming as a means to describe the ongoing nature of how identities are formed are also considered. The paradigm employed in this study is a constructivist/interpretivist paradigm, utilising hermeneutic phenomenological/narrative research approaches based on in-depth semi-structured interviews with twelve visual artists. Data are analysed using a recursive and spiralling process (Creswell, 2007). The findings and interpretation are presented thematically and structured as a neonarrative or storying place (Stewart, 2007) allowing the artists' voices to be heard, and considered alongside aspects raised within the literature and my theoretical framework. Major findings from the study include that artists attempt to reconcile aspects of their individual, social, and cultural identities by challenging communities' perceptions of artists. The cumulative effect of being involved in community-based arts practice(s) also provide artists with ongoing identity capital where instrumental intentions are transformed, allowing them to realise intrinsic qualities where they learn about themselves by connecting with others.
Selkrig, Mark Andrew.
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