“Art Extending Knowledge”

Posted on  by vanessa.henry

Last week SERT was challenged to write about what narrative analysis meant to us. Speaking for myself, I discovered that narrative analysis was subjective in many ways. It was subjective to the storyteller and the audience. My argument was that as researchers we should not put words into our participants mouths but rather provide them with space to use their voice. This provided space for a debate in one of our meetings. If narrative analysis is subjective and so is our interpretation as researchers we are giving into the argument of relativism. There is a distinction between art and art based research (ABR) that needs to be discussed. Without this conversation there is no validity to our research. So, I have decided to counter my own argument and argue that art based research is more than subjective thinking, and rather a methodology that produces meaningful findings.

Simply put art evokes meaning. Traditional approaches to research including qualitative and quantitative research collect information but fails to go in-depth with participants experiences. Art based methods of research bring forward a deeper understanding that cannot be captured by words or surveys. ABR as John Hannah puts it is “fit for purpose”. We are using art for a specific reason. That being to deepen our understanding about individuals lived experiences. The point of our research is to take a new approach and to counter traditional beliefs about research, proving that there is more than one truth that needs to be uncovered.

In the scholarly article that is attached to this blog, the authors explored cases of how art was used in healthcare to present research findings. Their argument was that researchers need to diversify research findings in order to accommodate their audience. If patients cannot understand academic jargon how will they understand their experience as a patient? Art provided individuals who were living with similar health conditions a way of understanding by being able to relate to the audience by evoking feelings and conveying emotions. This article showcased the importance of diversifying research and using different methods to communicate with different people.

This article relates on many levels to the research that SERT is conducting. Our research is being conducted for the benefit of the academy but also for the benefit of students. Our research is looking to explore deeper into the student experience. When showcasing our findings it is important that we are able to relate to all audiences that our interested in our research. Art is a way we can diversify our academic jargon so that students are aware of their experiences and can relate to the findings presented. 

Art-Based Research is as meaningful as traditional research practices. However, it goes further to take in measures of diversity making sure that research impacts more than just the researchers. This article opened my eyes not only to the way research is being conducted but also to the way research is being presented. SERT should take into account that when presenting our research we do so in a way that artistically evokes meaning to more than one audience. It also brings up the argument that there needs to be validity in our research. When evoking meaning to the audience, it should be a result of what was found in the study. The audience will have their own experiences but the point of our research is to capture a common experience and explore the effects of that experience.


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