Migrancy: a journey of yearning and a quest for home in the context of contemporary art

Tanner, Heather Anne (2018) Migrancy: a journey of yearning and a quest for home in the context of contemporary art. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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My experience of migrancy is at the heart of this practice-led research. As a migrant, the grief of missing family and homeland prompted investigation of how visual art might communicate the experience of migrancy in the dual form of a body of creative works of art and exegesis. To investigate the topic of migrancy, the work of social theorists, stories told by migrants and works of art by artists who explore migration in their practice was examined. In addition, theories of art relating to emotion and aesthetic cognitivism were investigated.

Through a reflexive and reflective process, I created works of art to test ideas, then returned to the literature, analysed the works and returned to thinking, reflecting and responding. Over time, this interactive cycle led to works of art that evoked my own experience of migrancy. The process of practice-led research enabled an understanding of the veracity of feelings associated with my migration. This cycle of gathering information, thinking deeply about a topic, coming to a greater understanding of my situation, and creating works of art, was a transformational experience. As I wrestled with the research, a shroud of personal grief was slowly replaced by insight and considered understanding.

This research tests the capacity of art to enable artists to delve deeply into their life and to recognise their longings, emotions and states of mind. The thesis of art theorist, R. G. Collingwood has been tested in this research. Through the process of practice-led research the underlying emotions and states of mind that were the source of personal disquiet have been identified. This finding indicates the value of making art for people with emotional unease, as it provides a means for investigating and grappling with a concern, therefore enabling one to identify the underlying emotions at the heart of the matter.

The practice-led research process enabled the refinement of my research question from the representation of migration in visual art, to one of representations of migrancy and longing for home. The exhibition Migrancy and Yearning for Home demonstrated how I attempted to create works of art that are evocative and redolent of personal experience. Analysis of early works suggested that a sensitive refinement was necessary to create a poetic or metaphoric character in the works. Furthermore, a finding of this research is that works of art need to be evocative and involve a reference to an idea in a manner that suggests new ways of seeing and imagining. This knowledge of art along with the self-knowledge that can be gained, indicates the significant value of the arts for individuals and communities both at home and in new terrains.

Item ID: 53631
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: migrancy, emotion, art theory, nostalgia, self, visual arts
Date Deposited: 14 May 2018 02:24
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200208 Migrant Cultural Studies @ 25%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts > 190502 Fine Arts (incl Sculpture and Painting) @ 50%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1901 Art Theory and Criticism > 190103 Art Theory @ 25%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 50%
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