Archive for March, 2009


Personal Reflection March 30th

This week our readings from Julie Lymburner and Patti Pente empathize lived experiences that inform arts-based research through personal reflection and art-making.  There is an ideological shift that Pente describes, where values are passed through the art-teach to students.  This phenomena is well established academically and has been documented by scholars such as Noddings, Palmer, and Green.

explrn picture_argyris_organizational_learning
Donald Schön practices of “reflection on action”

While I feel self-reflection is important to maintain balance in our overlapping identities as artists/teachers/and researchers I do not find the practice  essential in contemporary educational research.  Personal reflection can provide insight into the background of a researcher’s study and provoke meanings that may have otherwise been unmentioned.  However, too much personal reflection can be very self-indulgent and as David Pariser would argue is it educational research?
An example of journaling

This question can be answered by the context of the research, strength of the study design, and findings.  However, one must not get too carried away with the “I”, and “me” references.  Often trivial bibliographical statements are better expressed over wine with ones girlfriends than placed alongside reflections of teaching pedagogy.  Irwin, Grauer, and Pente’s arts-based researched is tightly structured and contains references to social science methodology alongside personal reflections.  However, certain researchers fail.  While I appreciated the lessons to be learned from Lymburner’s arts-based journaling, her article was much too self-focused to be considered research.  A nice idea, an illuminating reflection yes! As research, no.



Personal Reflection 4

Judy Chicago and an image from her Birth Project 1982

This week I have been working hard on my Judy Chicago presentation.  Quite honestly I did not know much about Chicago until I started to research her life and art.  She is a phenomenal inspiration and I feel so excited at the prospect of seeing her at NAEA this April.

Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd

Karen Keifer-Boyd’s (2007) article From content to form: Judy Chicago’s pedagogy with reflections by Judy Chicago in Studies in Art Education was also very informative.  Keifer Boyd empathized Chicago’s teaching goals in exploring artistic process and promoting a balanced teacher-student relationship in student art critiques.  Chicago’s pedagogy encouraged the teacher to act as facilitator of discussions as opposed to the all knowing hierarchical leader.  Her classes are taught in a circle formation without desks or chairs so that participants can observe each other’s body language.  She encouraged silence in critiques to provoke thought that could lead to greater artistic reflection.

The Dinner Party, 1979

As an educator I very much wish all my classes could be taught this way.  In Taiwan many classrooms are structured with desks pointing to the front of the room where the teacher talks.  This discourages class participation and interaction which ultimately creates lower learning outcomes.

In the Shadow of the Handgun, 1983
When I first started teaching at Huafan I moved the classroom desks to be in a square formation so all students could have eye contact and engage in discussion.  The process was time consuming and awkward.  It was labor intensive to have to re-arrange sixty classroom desks and chairs each week.  In addition, this type facilitator-based of teaching style was unknown students who still expected the teacher to lead discussion.

It is always darkest before the dawn, 1999

Perhaps in the future art educators of all disciplines can adopt Chicago’s example in and create product focused pedagogy with a student-centered teaching style.


Art Project 1

Artist Statement

My goal with the piece was to merge the classical aesthetic idea of wet drapery into every day feminine activities which are often overlooked in our contemporary visual culture.

The act of a woman shaving is a private activity that is typically hidden from view.  Women are presented at the final part of the process once their grooming is completed.  I wanted to express part of this transformation in conjunction to the aesthetic of wet drapery.

My goal is for the viewer to question how normal everyday feminine habits are often unseen in traditional feminine representations.

The wet drapery was used for its classical form and there are other ways which I could express similar situations with the drapery.

Creating this work was very complicated and much harder than I thought.  At the moment I am not satisfied and feel the theme would be better expressed through a larger series of photographs.

Goddess imagery is an element to this work.  This work was conceptualized while researching Judy Chicago.

For the next part of this series I would like to use a model.  If you are interested in participating please contact me at


Personal Reflection Week 3

Thoughts on gender this week:

Laura Bush and Katie Holmes are considered modern day Stepford wives.

Professionally women have different expectations from men when faced with the same job or career choice.  Why are there so few women business leaders, tenured Professors, and Heads of State?  Are women leaders perceived as being weak in comparison to men?  Judged too harshly on their looks?  Not as accepted by other women or society?  How can this be changed?

In last week’s class Professor Jo Chen spoke of hierarchies in academia and compared this to the limits of the glass ceiling.  Professor Chen questioned why such hierarchies were created and asked if another more inclusive system could exist.  Professor Chen wondered if gender or social structures are in place as a way to organize people within society.  Our class further considered how the notion of gender is institutionalized and arranged.

We discussed the idea of a Stepford wife, where a woman is dominated by her husband.  Class mobility can be achieved through education but for many women “marrying well” is the preferred route of social mobility.

Nicole Kidman happy gets her groceries in a scene from the 2004 film Stepford Wives.  An image of fancy pretty dish washing gloves!

This week I enjoyed reading Stephanie Springgay’s article Body As Fragment: Art-Making, Researching, and Teaching As a Boundary Shift as it questions ideas of identity and the relationship between teaching and self.  Moreover, I also really appreciated Springgay’s art-works and feel she is a formidable young scholar who will have a great impact on the field.

Springgay touches on the concept of the body as fragment.  Indeed as women our bodies are compartmentalized through notions of self, identity, media influence, family history, socioeconomic status, and relationship to our mothers/mothering.  In education there is a strong boundary between our professional body and our personal one.  As Springgay suggests this perception of self can become fragmented changing with evolving teaching pedagogy, curriculum, and personal values.


Images that Inspire Creativity and Art-Making

The Winged Victory of Samothrace.  220-190 BC
Classical Roman statues romanticize and mythologize femininity.  Women are ethereal and unapproachable, except to the male gaze.  This woman is powerful in her posture yet trapped in stone.  The problem with this image is the contradictions it presents, the powerful woma nwith wingswho can not move.  Strong yet ensnared under another’s control.

The Lovers.  Rene Magritte, 1928
This image fascinates me and I am very intrigued by Magritte’s surrealist paintings.  Here the couples pictured behind a scenic pastoral setting.  The man is behind the woman and appears to slightly dominate her posture.  The woman’s physical presence is felt through her central position in the composition.  The drapery covering the couple’s faces hints at mystery in their identity and personal situation.  The problem with this painting is that it makes clear the desire to see the sitter’s physical presence.  Without it the painting is deemed unreal yet there is a quiet beauty in the absence of portraiture.

Lisa Lyon.  Robert Mapplethorpe, 1982
This image is powerful through its juxtaposition of feminine and masculine elements.  Here we have the female body of Lisa Lyon which is positioned in a muscular pose similar to that of a man.  Lisa’s femininity is evident only through the sight of her bare breasts as she flexes her muscles and stands forward.  Curiously Lisa’s face is covered with a veil, evoking a bride or classical goddess.  Mapplethorpe’s image is problematic as it signifies the idealized notion of masculinity and femininity through a singular subject.  Women are powerful but they are also faceless and held back by the trappings of their sex.

Sally Mann- from the Immediate Family Series, 1982
Here one of Mann’s daughters rests naked in a pool while a stream of water passes through her.  This photograph is problematic as it is not completely in focus so the viewer cannot fully investigate the details of the scene.  However, the image is whimsical and romantic through the soft focus and gentle depiction of the girl.  Yet, there is also a feeling of darkness and isolation that surrounds the girl.

Hui-Chan Kuo, Tube series 2001
Here two women sit seemingly in a normal scene on the Taipei MRT.  However, one woman is clothed while the other is naked.  The juxtaposition and duality of the image is very intriguing.  The image appears surreal almost like a strange fantasy come to life.  It is dreamlike in its random use of the nude female.  The two women are sitting together in an intense position which hints at homosexual love.  Perhaps the problem with this image is that gay love and normalcy have yet to coexist in Taiwan.


Personal Reflection Week 3

Thoughts on gender this week. There is always a division between feminine and masculine, public and private, professional and personal self. Yet, who imposes such boundaries? Sometimes if you wish to create a work of art the two worlds overlap with social consequence. Sylvia Wilson demonstrates in her article (2006) Fragments: Life Writing in Image and in Text the identities of teacher, researcher, and artists are entwined through pedagogy and research. Life writing reflects the essence of teaching and artwork articulates such lived experiences.

Sylvia and Shen Chao-Liang.  Please take a moment to read Sylvia’s review of our interview here.

Wilson’s notion of the fluid spaces between, art practice, teaching, and identity echo the work of photographer Shen Chao Liang. His work documents ordinary people and brings to light the beauty present in normal everyday happenings. This week it was fantastic to be able to sit down with him and discuss his work over coffee at COZY. Many thanks to Sylvia who helped facilitate and translate our interview. In my quick snapshots you can see the intensity and sensitivity to the human condition in his eyes.

Gender, love, connections, and femininity, are fluid. This week I also remembered how when I was younger I always made the first move with guys.  This sounds funny but it is true and my love life suffered accordingly.  It took awhile for me to realize that men were separate from the various different projects infusing my life and I could not pursue them with the same gusto and enthusiasm.  Sometimes in life you just have to let things be and let things happen in their own time.  There is peace and beauty in that.

Which makes me feel that despite my love of clothes, art, and various trappings of femininity there are large parts of my personality that are masculine.  I’m a tough cookie and like to take the lead.  I’ve never understood women who have not wanted to better themselves are content instead have their husband’s career be the focus.  Perhaps I am too independent or self-reliant.  Maybe it’s because I’ve always known that if I want that Gucci handbag it’s going to have to come from my own bank account.

As I am writing this personal reflection I am listening to M.I.A.’s Paper Planes from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack.


More photographs of the Lin Family Mansion and Garden for Verve magazine

Here are some more photographs of the Lin Family Mansion and Garden for Verve magazine- Eva Air’s in-flight periodical.

Jo’s tweets


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