TO DEFINE A FEELING

MA Inclusive Arts Practice - University of Brighton

Independant Research Project, 2019

‘I’m trying for something more specific than movies of my everyday life: to define a feeling.’

Joan Mitchell[i]

 

‘To define a feeling’ explores the ways in which abstract art can be used to express the individual experiences of self-identifying women, as well as wider feminist ideas. It seeks to raise questions about what is expected of artists who identify as women and explore non-conventional approaches to activist and political art.

 

My exhibit reflects on conversations and collaborations between myself and Corunna Lucassen during six sessions at Equinox Care’s Brighton Women’s Service. We explored ways of working with painting, printmaking and collage, as well as our personal connections to colour, texture, pattern and textiles. In addition, we established a shared understanding as to the nature and purpose of abstract art and examined what makes it an accessible form of creative expression.

 

Through abstraction I have sought to confront assumptions and expectations often associated with work produced in collaboration with people from marginalised groups, who are often required to justify their humanity and explain their personal experience through the art they produce.

 

Within my own practice and through this body of work I have sought to explore ways to communicate the situated knowledges[ii] that emerge through inclusive arts collaborations. I have begun to examine how complex and contextual lived experience can be communicated and harnessed as an imaginative tool in confronting inequality and social injustice.

 

[i] Joan Mitchell cited in Nelson, M. (2011). Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions.  University of Iowa Press.

[ii] ‘Situated knowledges’ refers to a concept developed by Donna Haraway (1988) to describe the way in which all knowledge is the product of the specific context in which it emerges and the perspective of the subject, or ‘situated knower’. Haraway, D. (1988). ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective’, in Feminist Studies, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 575-599.