Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Literature Review Art Brut, Material Culture, Veterans, Workshops and Museums

Museum related literature
The American Alliance of Museums' book New Forums: Art Museums & Communities (Pitman & Hirzy, 2004) is useful in that it addressed both the idea of museums as agents of change and community builders. The work discussed diverse communities and their relationship to the modern, dynamic museum. This relates to my research in that museums are shifting their focus to once disenfranchised communities and inviting them into a dialogue (Stankiewicz, 2001).
The essays presented in The Museum as a Place of Learning (Carr, 2001) provide a good philosophical basis for my proposed project for veterans. For example, Carr (2001) stated a set of ideas which will guide my action based research and the creation of the workshop.
The concepts are the following;
  1. Learners learn from learners (educators must still be learning)
  2. The institution is a community mind and educator
  3. Help always poses problems (danger of assumptions)
  4. The general public has a need to address the unknown in their lives
  5. The process of inquiring is more important than answers
  6. The truth is always constructed
  7. In our society there is an undercurrent of mindlessness, even anti-intellectualism museums afford a chance to counter act this negative current
  8. The museum is an unfinished cognitive process
  9. Every learner needs an advocate
        (Carr, 2001 p. 14)
“The institution is a community mind and educator,” fits the notion of the new museum as an agent of change – the focus of my research. “The truth is always constructed,” is key to both the museum research and the planned workshop. “Every learner needs an advocate”, is the foundation for museum programing (Carr, 2001). Further I am suggesting that veterans need museums to be their advocate.
Teaching Art in the Museum, from the Getty Institute suggested that the museum experience is and should be distinct from “the normal flow of life,” which is also essential to my proposed efforts (Burnham, 2011). Similar philosophies for museums are expressed throughout the work thoroughly conveying the new state of museums and their changing roles.
Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community, and Culture (Bautista, 2013) analyzed both the current paradigm shift and the history of museums. Addressing the Internet and our connectedness as a set of “new cultural behaviors,” the author picked apart our concepts of actual space and virtual (Bautista, 2013, p. 24). The implications for museums that have traditionally focused on the physical space of the museum, the building, the collection and often the history of both, are huge. The idea that a quasi-sacredness has been replaced by a global web presence means a museum has the potential to impact diverse communities around the world.
Three main themes have emerged from the research into museum literature. First, museums have changed and are changing. Museums are fluid dynamic and no longer ivory towers of high culture and keepers of a single culture. We live in a globalized, wired, diverse, and ever-changing society; museums have sought to keep up with the shifts in thinking and consciousness that the United Nation's charter first mandated (Riedler, 2009). Second, museums can and should be agents of change, community centers and servants. Museums can provide lifelong learning and diverse programming like no other venue and should. Veterans and families of veterans should therefore be served and aided by the new museum. The work Role of Museums and Libraries in Strengthening Communities directly addressed this theme and set a sort of challenge to museums (Alizar, 2009). Questioning Assumptions: An Introduction to Front-End Studies in Museums by Dierking and Pollock (Dierking & Pollock, 1998), also looked into the museum’s new roles and ways that museums can do more as agents of change.
The third and most important concept is meaning. Museums help the general public find meaning. In museum terms meaning refers to an experience out-of-the-ordinary day-to-day routine that engages and enriches the museum guest (Carr, 2001). Meaning can incorporate an art viewer finding peace staring at a painting, a person feeling enriched by a lecture, or a child connecting to art through a hands-on activity. The challenge is for museums to consider how they are offering meaning (Dierking & Pollock, 1998).
Veterans related literature
My veteran’s research began with defining Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) the most concise counselor manual from the APA provides guidelines and protocols for working with victims of PTSD (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration [SAMHSA], 2005). The main work used in this study is Odysseus in America (Shay, 2002). Shay offered insight, advice and suggestions from his direct experience working with veterans. He explained the stages of recovery that veterans must pass through and offered that art therapy might be useful in this (Shay, 2002). Driscoll & Strauss (2009) provided in Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts: Stories of American Soldiers With Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD an explanation of TBI and why it is so relevant to veterans from the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan.
Workshop and programing related literature
To determine if a workshop as a form of action based research would able to answer my research questions, I studied sources on workshops and programs. Jean Dubuffet has been an inspiration for the project throughout in that changing perceptions can help improve interactions and raise awareness. A discussion of the efforts of Dubuffet to change perceptions of the mentally ill and disabled through art was a connection discovered in the work, Shattered Forms Art Brut, Phantasms, Modernism (Weiss, 1992). A basic art therapy methodology for working with the severely injured, terminal, or sufferer of chronic pain, is presented in the work Healing with the Arts (Samuels & Lane, 2013) which will be useful for presenting a compassionate workshop. The work ArtScience offered tips for creating productive multidisciplinary workshops (Edwards, 2008). In specific he advocated creating an experimental climate versus a traditional classroom. He suggested it is helpful for participants to feel they are on a team that is trying to solve creative problems together. All three of these works provided different approaches and suggestions for putting on informal art based workshops.
Blandy & Bolin (2012) provided in their article “Looking at, Engaging More: Approaches for Investigating Material Culture” a rationale for the use of found objects. They discussed material culture and the significance cultures give to objects. The proposed workshop is based around constructing art with found objects. It is assumed that these items can then be used to communicate a wide range of ideas and emotions which is the main tenet of my planned workshop.
The Family Learning Forum (“Evaluation” section, How much data do you need?) – a project of the USS Constitution Museum – discussed strategies and methods for planning and assessing the effectiveness of programs and exhibits in museums. Using Dierking & Pollock (1998) as a model they advocated front-end and summative research in their writings, two forms of qualitative research used to create and rate museum efforts. Employing the above and Berg (2001) Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences, I developed a methodology for using action based research and ethnography through a museum workshop.