Come to Your Senses, Remember Belongings: A Pedagogy of Making, Memory and the Haptics of Home
Wright, Ellen Jane
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The relationships of memory to place, and of place to body, assert haptic memory and sensory knowing in this art practice research. Beginning with evocative objects a wardrobe, a pair of shoes, a dress this dissertation traces a circuitous material journey to a sensual biography of place. It culminates in two exhibitions, Her Place and What was Learned There, and Her Place-Scraps, distinct drawing installations of graphite rubbings on tracing paper, assembling a feminist response to familial vulnerabilities. The subject is the floors, walls, windows, ceilings, doors, stairs, furniture, clothing and surrounding landscape of an inherited home, forming a partial and fragmented archive reminiscent of memorys inconsistency, clarity, unreliability and fragility. The physically demanding process of art making asserted my body in that inheritance, while the architectural structures, the many objects and substances used throughout the studio research, reflect Mezeis domestic effects. What evolves is the notion of haptics of home, sensuous memory and the residue of emotion rooted in tactile experience, supported by theorists Krasner and Fisher. I bring Kuhns memory work methodology into conversation with Kadar and Perreaults interrelated concept of auto/ biography, reflecting personal and social memory as specific to time and place. Incorporating memory work, I use creative writing to open a range of experiences that confront gender politics of the domestic in material, familial and narrative inheritances, and a requisite disinheritance, referring to Bailey and Goodall. I discuss contemporary women artists critically addressing materials, auto/ biography, place, and the domestic sphere, as well as the historical and contemporary uses of rubbings in the West and East, encompassing geographical, biographical and educational purpose. I document the studio work in Process Journals, which elucidate a pedagogy of making, exemplifying the entwined processes of art making, thinking and theorizing; more significantly, this studio-making pedagogy reveals working with uncertainty, following curiosity and, ultimately, recognizing not knowing as intrinsic to art practice and to education. As artist and visual art teacher, I consider the generative potential of art practice in relation to natality, Hannah Arendts call for the necessity of education to continually re-invent itself.