For the last 10 years, we’ve been exploring the notion of artistic research. This exploration began with the formation of a Community-University Research Alliance, or CURA (2001–2012)--a collaboration with Thompson Rivers University and the City of Kamloops, British Columbia, and focusing on issues of cultural sustainability and quality of life in a small city setting. In particular, the researchers (drawn primarily from the social sciences and humanities: English, education, film studies, geography, history, social work, sociology, philosophy, political science, rhetoric, theatre studies and the visual arts) have been exploring notions of social capital and community asset building in communities 100,000 and smaller. This paper will consider the impact of the artists contributing to this research initiative, documenting how collectively we have refined the roles of artist-researchers, with the artists now following one of three inquiry models: (1) Affinity—where the artist matches existing work with issues under exploration by a particular research group; (2) Response—where the artist creates new work responding directly to the particular research group’s project; and, most importantly, (3) Integration—where the artist works with a particular research group, becoming in effect a co-researcher by committing skills, insights, vocabulary, qualitative problem solving methods, and art production to the research process and findings. Integrated research initiatives, we’ve found, put increased demands on artists to explore and create both visually and verbally; in addition, we’ve begun to understand better how the university research emphasis (replete with its entrenched expectations for traditional publication and exhibition outcomes) distinguishes the work of artist-researchers from those working exclusively in the realm of public art and community advocacy. For the artist-researchers working within the community-university alliance, their practice necessarily involves attention to place, audience, object, interdisciplinarity and research.
|Keywords:||Artist-as-Researchers, Artistic Inquiry, Community-Based Research, Small Cities|
Professor and Associate Dean of Arts, Faculty of Arts, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, B.C., Canada
Assistant Professor of English, English and Modern Languages Department, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, B.C., Canada
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