Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Retrospections and interpretations: The narrative of ageing artists on the complexities of their creative practices through time
by Bourgault, Rebecca, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2011, 366; 3484384
Abstract (Summary)

This study explores the life stories of five mature artists as they reflect on the passage of time and its effect on their artistic practices. Through the narration of their life stories, the five ageing artists recast their memories of early development in the visual arts, elaborating on the salient events in their life that interfaced with their professional interests and may have influenced or transformed their creative pursuits.

Research participants were self-defined professional artists working in a variety of media and living in different locations in North America. The study used qualitative methods that included narrative inquiry and oral history interweaving strategies inspired from phenomenology and portraiture. The information was obtained through semi-structured interviews, ensuing conversations, exhibition catalogues provided by the artists and other historical documents.

The research examines how self-representation operates in the narratives of the five artists as they reconstruct their history, bringing into play their changing and multiple identities as paradigm. The study also investigates features of cohort differences, accounting for the heterogeneous aspects of the artists' lives while outlining the similarity of shared historical contexts. Findings suggest that ageing for these active visual artists means little more than physical changes while their sense of self and their creative process remains unaffected. All are future oriented and the greater freedom of their mature years has yielded a greater sense of self-confidence and productivity.

The maintenance of artistic activities through ageing suggests that later decades may be understood as a time of accrued creativity as other life obligations diminish. It also reverses the cultural perspectives of decline and calls for longitudinal studies of the participants as they reach their eighth and ninth decades.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burton, Judith
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art education, Gerontology, Fine arts, Womens studies
Keywords: Adult art education, Aging, Artists, Creativity, Narrative inquiry, Time
Publication Number: 3484384
ISBN: 9781267008268
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