Teaching and Learning in Artistic Collaboration
The intersections of the arts and education are documented in this inquiry as interdisciplinary artistic collaboration. Graduate and undergraduate arts students and their arts professors from four arts programs teach and learn together in a semester-long interdisciplinary collaborative arts course at a large, diverse city university in the Southwestern United States. To demonstrate the broadening of and burrowing into stories of artistic collaboration within the context of contemporary institutions of education, the framework of the tidy online corporate-tinged training course on group work titled “Revving up Your High-Performance Project Team” is appropriated to re-story the course’s technical stages of collaboration: chaos, conflict, collaboration, and collection. Complexities and considerations of interdisciplinary artistic collaboration are unveiled to preface stories of the collaborative inquiries that spring 2008 course participants have engaged in. To illustrate the ever-present complexities of the focus of this study, the initial chapter “Stage One: Chaos” sifts through the maelstrom of literature on multifarious notions of collaboration as they pertain to education and the arts. Written works by significant philosophers, theorists, and practitioners such as John Dewey mix with historical accounts of interdisciplinary arts/education institutions like Black Mountain College becoming layers of collaborative, artistic, and interdisciplinary vii perspectives. Diverse approaches to collaborative learning and art-making are used to illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of the artistic collaboration in education chronicled in this research project. Within a messy back story of theory and practice, the chapter also provides a detailed description of the research participants and context of this inquiry into teacher and student collaborations and begins to flesh out the problems and possibilities embedded in concepts relevant to this examination of artistic collaboration in education: hierarchy, structure, tension, chaos. As they produce swirling stories of collaboration through their conjoined experiences of “unstructured” artistic work together, teachers and students of this innovational and practical collaborative arts course come to know collaboration and their roles within new contexts of the arts and education. The collaborative nature of the research focus and research methodology allow stories to be constructed with research participants about teacher practice, student experience, and processes and products of artistic practice to illustrate the unique space artistic collaborations provide in education as well as the complexities underlying collaboration in general. Besides undergirding the theoretical framework of this study with student stories of this collaborative arts course in the chapter “Stage Two: Conflict”, the narrative inquirer uses emerging images such as the “helix” and characters like the “not-good collaborator” to highlight the conflict of fluid, interdisciplinary approaches to education and the arts today. “Stage Three: Collaboration” chronicles the story of one collaborative group viii working through the spring 2008 cycle of the course in collaborative arts. One particular student’s experience within the group comes into focus to highlight the chaos and conflict that surfaces in the group’s work and the tools that the student utilizes to structure her experience and manage the ramifications of the diversity of perspectives within her group. The dissertation ends with “Stage Four: Collection,” where recommendations for managing highly fluid collaborative practices in an artistic mode carried out in educational settings are laid out. The final chapter also showcases metaphors and multiple threads of inquiry (Living Form, Embodied Knowledge, Narrative Authority, Interdisciplinarity, Best-Loved Self, and Counter-stories) that can be carried forward into future inquiries pertaining to collaboration in education.