The University of Melbourne
Rita Emerita 2024.pdf (30.78 MB)

A journey as artist/researcher/teacher: ‘Celebrating Rita Irwin’.This presentation 'A journey as artist/researcher/teacher' was given as part of the ‘Celebrating Rita Irwin’ Symposium on Saturday May 4, 2024 at UBC in Canada. I was invited to speak about a/r/tography and I chose to share the impact of being folded in, and how I unfold, fold and refold with the self as currere and with others as a/r/tographer in Australia at the University of Melbourne. This presentation was prepared and curated to honour Rita as the scholar, friend, mentor, and guide but to also demonstrate how important her leadership in my field of art education has been. She has made a vast impact on me and art education the world over. Thank you, Rita.

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posted on 2024-05-12, 00:08 authored by KATHRYN COLEMANKATHRYN COLEMAN

Program text: As Rita Irwin beautifully explained; “To be engaged in the practice of a/r/tography means to inquire in the world through an ongoing process of art making and writing not separate or illustrative of each other but interconnected and woven through each other to create enhanced meanings. A/r/tographical works are often rendered through the methodological concepts of contiguity, living inquiry, openings, metaphor, reverberations and excess.” In this session,colleagues and collaborators articulate some of their journeys as artist/researcher/teacher and allow this collective moment to reverberate.

I began this presentation exploring the people who have been important to me since my Master of Art Administration at Art + Design, UNSW, Sydney and began this story with Dr Adele Flood who helped me piece my thesis in pieces together through a/r/tographic inquiry. This front slide includes an image of Rita and I in Melbourne in 2014 two years before I had completed my a/r/tography PhD thesis at the University of Melbourne. Other photos include my wonderful a/r tographer colleagues and friends Professor Koichi Kasahara and Geraldine as well as images of my own my students and a photograph of my current co-conspirator Dr. Sarah Healy.

I began by folding people into the currere of self, exploring a/r/tographical situations as methodological spaces for furthering living inquiry with three images 1 from my PhD study, one from an invited autoethnographic critical inquiry from Prof Stacy Holman Jones some years ago and the final, an opening drawing that I had completed in Vancouver that week.

The third slide includes a taxonomy for a/r/tographic inquiry, a way of thinking with the self and others a way of unfolding, re folding and unfolding the artist-researcher-teacher in and for art education. The next slide locates myself with my students living in the interstitial spaces between A/R/T, and between a/r/t and graphy with graduate teachers in the secondary Master of Teaching (VAD) programme where I teach an a/r/tographic curriculum. This slide includes a recent dinner party where we made a placemat and meal for the artist, researcher, and teachers that we invited to our last class to celebrate and honour the people that we learn and work with. These images show the placemats where each meal was located and the tangled lines where each student stood and spoke to their invited guest and another student followed with a resonation or reverberation of the guest in relation to their own. By the end we sat in the tangles as we shared our meals together.

Slide 5 locates the dear you, a/r/tography letter that teacher candidates are invited to write to themselves as they enter the visual art and design education programme. I think a lot about the ways that artist researcher teachers learn in this graduate programme; it is the centring of all my work, and I believe one of the most important contributions I make to my field. And it is through Rita Irwin that I'm able to do this. It is because of Rita’s generosity and generative scholarship that I can design a programme that invites artists and designers to learn through art and design education as a/r/tographic researchers developing a currere of self and currere for others before they enter the art and design education profession.

The next slide locates how I do this as the artist, the researcher, and the teacher develops as our Victorian curriculum locates - the artist and audience in relation.

From here, I wanted to locate the a/r/tographer's that I have a genuine reciprocal relationship with. I began with Dr Abbey McDonald a co-conspirator. During Covid and the long pandemic we became close friends as we worked through our living inquiries to make sense of the worlds that we were living between.

The next slide is a folding and unfolding with my friend and colleague Dr Geraldine Burke who through the generosity and scholarship of Rita, I was able to work with on an important recent publication. This invitation from Rita opened a new fold for Geraldine and me to work in-between, but apart.

The next slide locates my wonderful and beautiful friend Associate Professor Peter Cook. We've lived in a fold, unfold, and refold for many years through our teaching and then through our research and then through passions for developing and building work in Australia as a/r/tographer's. This slide shows recent work where we have been thinking about the ways that we walk and learn ‘together but apart’. We live in two very different parts of Australia, but we speak at least once a week if not every couple of days and these walks our imaginary. One of the images shows a place that we meet where we've dropped a Google pin between our two homes and imagined how we might meet there and what might conspire in this meeting.

The next slide locates my wonderful friend and colleague and PhD supervisor Dr Marnee Watkins. Marnee is a co-conspirator in many projects, and someone I teach in the studio. We unfold and refold in important ways to understand the broader ways of being in art education across generations. Marnee’s generosity I locate in relation to the world that Rita and a/r/tography have opened for me.

The next slide brings my graduate students together. The people that I've been able to unfold a/r/tography with; to open new ways of thinking about the future/s of art and design education with through a/r/tography. I have tried to model my graduate research leadership on Rita’s. Rita was never actually my PhD supervisor and she definitely didn't exist in my sphere at the university but she responded to my many Facebook Messenger texts and I got to know her over years of asking questions through her mentoring, through her friendship, through her guidance and leadership, through her writing, through her art making and through her generous invitations to me to participate in her scholarly world. The way that she supervises is how I have tried to supervise at the University of Melbourne, because supervision is an opening of a door into a world of practices. I feel the generosity of these students who have allowed me to walk with them just as Rita has allowed me to walk with her.

The next slide unfolded into the current work that I have the great joy of doing with Dr Sarah Healy as a part of our SWISP lab (speculative wandering in space and place). This slide includes a photograph of me with Sarah at her graduation when she became Dr Healy, a photograph of us with Peter, Dr Alli Edwards, and Professor Gloria Zapata-Restrepo (UNESCO Chair in Arts, Education and Culture of Peace). I had the great joy of bringing Professor Zapata-Restrepo to Australia and working closely with her at AARE in Brisbane. The next image is of Sarah and I and the work we have been able to do with young people through our ‘Hacking the Anthropocene’ project in India, America and here in Australia in partnership with Science Gallery Network. I have tried to model again the relationships that Rita has with her postdoctoral researchers in the ways that I collaborate and work in a duet in partnership with Sarah, a creative and speculative affect theorist.

The second last slide opens to the young people that I have been working with since I graduated and began teaching art and design in 1994. Young people in schools, young people in the gallery, young people in communities and more recently young people through the partnership with Science Gallery Bengaluru and Atlanta, find the openings in the living in currere of a/r/tography possible and it opens opportunities for them to be able to locate the ways they feel about the complex times that we currently live in. It allows them to see themselves and the ways they know, and be, and do, and relate to the world.

The last slide was a dedication to the ways that I have been able to work with Rita and to honour the relationship, the invitations to participate in her many books about a/r/tography, the presentations that I have had the joy of sitting in - around the world where I've seen her perform, where I have shared meals, and where I have participated as artist- researcher-teacher in relation to Rita.


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