The DLF Forum conference was so much of a whirlwind that I didn’t quite keep up. But I did come away with an enormous reading and learning list. Here are some highlights as I ran between sessions over two days.
@safiyanoble keynote should be required listening for all undergraduates! Power, Privilege and the Imperative to Act #DLFforum
I also ended up in an improv class (yes, really, thanks DLF!) where we used improv techniques to raise issues within digital scholarship. It was refreshing and enlightening, a wonderful way to have “a-ha” moments.
My Monday afternoon was a bit scattered as I prepared for the poster session. I presented on our digital project The Expanding Archive: Denison LGBTQ Past/Present/Future.
Though I am not a digital librarian – I may work on digital projects but it is not what I am trained to do nor have ample support for – I learned so much from the collaborative and community-based projects shared at DLF.
First we had an excellent paper from Eric Wolf who talked about scholarly publishing outside librarianship. He encouraged us to use our subject expertise (many of us in art librarianship have a second masters) and to write within that field. This is something I have been considering for a few months now – pursuing my interests in outsider art, tattooing, and other “low brow” art forms. Hearing Eric talk about the benefits and seeing his enthusiasm for writing outside information science has convinced me to move in this direction.
The lightning talks I arranged were also a success. In about an hour, seven speakers presented on a range of topics about writing and publishing. Three editors from ARLIS/NA discussed writing for them – Hannah Bennett represented the editors of ARLIS/NA Media & Technology Reviews, Terrie Wilson talked as a co-editor of ARLIS/NA book reviews, and Judy Dyki encouraged us to write for the scholarly journal Art Documentation. I have written book reviews for Terrie; she is great to work with and it was my first foray into writing in librarianship. I published my first peer-reviewed article in Art Documentation. Judy was very encouraging and considerate as an editor.
These three were followed by Anna-Sophia Zingarelli-Sweet who shared her experiences writing as a MLIS student and being a consulting editor for the great blog Hack Library School. I have been impressed by the work she’s done as a student! Then Laurel Bliss talked about publishing in relation to tenure for academic librarians. Laurel is an accomplished writer and had great ideas on making writing “easier” for the beginner.
Patrick Tomlin had an informative presentation on online scholarly profiles. He introduced us to many online tools like ORCID. Wrapping up the session was a presentation by Alex Watkins on open access publishing. Another accomplished writer, Alex discussed why open access matters and how authors can ensure their work is freely available.
I created a Zotero bibliography, Writing Opportunities in Art Librarianship, for the session. I linked to all the resources shared by the panelists and included some of my own recommendations. This proved to be worth my time as it was viewed by many ARLIS/NA participants over the course of the conference!
Thanks to all the session speakers and attendees for making Moving the Needle a success! See you all in Seattle!
Bitch Magazine is starting Bitch on Campus. Aimed at academic audiences, students can now engage with Bitch Magazine through digital readers (Bitch articles & study questions targeted toward a theme) and speaking engagements.
In early November I attended the National Women’s Studies Association’s annual conference in Cincinnati. As the new liaison librarian to Women’s Studies and Queer Studies, attending the conference allowed me to learn more about the current scholarship in both disciplines. I also met many librarians who are now part of my professional network (and enjoy Indian food as much as I do).
As an art librarian, I attended sessions that focused on the visual and performing arts.
In Plain Sight: The (In)Visibility of Political Discourse in the Embodied Practices of Vernacular Dance Forms – Sonja Thomas described how her teaching of tap dance in higher education was considered unprofessional by colleagues. Even within dance, tap is not studied in postmodern curriculums. Thomas argued that tap has one of the most intersectional histories, including art, race, gender, and class. Kendra Unruh and Anais Lei Sekine both gave papers on the Lindy Hop. Unruh discussed the zoot suit as a means of resistance. Sekine compared the historical dance to the new trend of swing dancing and how an African American, low class tradition has transferred to a middle class, white (and heterosexual) phenomenon.
Body Politics in Mainstream Culture – Doctoral students from Texas Women’s University provided a very interesting session on the body in new media. Sheila Bustillos-Reynolds addressed ESPN’s magazine The Body Issue. In the annual issue, men and women athletes pose nude and are artfully photographed. The women athletes who participate are often battered by the media and sport culture for exposing themselves. Michelle Slaughter discussed the onslaught of criticism gymnast Gabby Douglas faced as she became an Olympic star. Douglas’ hair became the focus on social media, rather than her athleticism and grace. Audrey Lundahl examined rockabilly culture and the craze for fifties fashion that rose from the popularity of the television show Mad Men. She focuses on women wearing retro clothing while covered in tattoos, concluding that the liberation of male (power) association with tattoos counters the traditional gendering of the clothing.
Beyond Betty and Veronica: Gender, Politics, and Comic Books – Mauricio Fernando Castro and Kara Kvaran both read papers about DC Comics’ Wonder Woman. Castro examined a single issue for instances of militarization in both the narrative and advertising. Kvaran gave highlights of the comic’s history and how the character’s change through time represents a new understanding of feminism. Samantha Meier discussed two all-women underground comics from the 1970s and addressed the larger comic culture’s discrimination of women.
Feminist Archival Sensibility – This entire panel session was about the new Judy Chicago Art Education Collection at Penn State University. As a feminist artist and teacher, Chicago donated her teaching project materials in 2011. The materials are beginning to be digitized and there has been a tremendous amount of interest and use of the in-house collection. Chicago’s work can be the catalyst for new scholarship on feminist pedagogy, historical art movements, and art activism.
Abortion, Art, and Activism: Visual Artists on the Reproductive Justice Landscape – Artist Heather Ault talked about her work 4000 Years for Choice. She uses graphic design and printmaking to create a new, positive campaign for pro-choice activists. Meg Roberts is a potter and founder of Plants for Patients (P4P). At an abortion clinic in Fargo, North Dakota, P4P provides each patient with a plant in a hand-made pottery piece to take home with her. Included with the plant is a handwritten note from a member of the community offering support for the patient as she begins the healing process. Guerrilla Girls Broadband is a brand of the Guerrilla Girls currently working on an interactive map that explores the political, legal, and anecdotal histories of abortion in the United States.
I also attended the librarian’s task force business meeting and their sponsored roundtable Transformative Collaborations for Research and Action. We discussed outreach to student groups, office hours, and zine collections.
Attending the NWSA meeting as an artist and librarian was an excellent opportunity for me to gain an understanding of how other disciplines view the arts.
Last Friday I co-presented Embracing the STEM to STEAM Initiative: The Library as Bridge Between Science and Art. This was the second time the Natural Sciences Librarian, Moriana Garcia, and I presented about science and art. Part of the presentation centers on what we are doing at Denison University to encourage and support cross-disciplinary conversation.
The STEM acronym has been around since the 1990s and stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Government bodies like the National Science Foundation and educational institutions believe that these disciplines hold the answers to many of our global issues. STEM careers are promising for students growing up in a troubled economy.
However, as K-12 and higher education started pushing STEM learning, many people were concerned about the disregard for the arts and the humanities. STEAM developed from this backlash, adding Arts (and design) to STEM. The Rhode Island School of Design is a strong proponent of the STEM to STEAM movement. One of the primary objectives of the STEAM movement is to “influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation.”
So, what are we doing at Denison to support STEAM? As librarians, we are excellently positioned to foster cross-disciplinary dialogue. While we work independently as subject specialists in the sciences and the arts, we come together as librarians. The library is a neutral space – outside the studio and the lab – for scientists and artists to gather.
We’ve started small. Before I arrived at Denison, Moriana began creating library displays about science in the arts and vice versa. And, for science displays she’s always included works of art that echo the theme (i.e. a sculpture of a lizard for a display on reptiles). It’s simple and subtle, but it’s a start. Moriana has been on the committee that creates displays for many years. I have just joined…so who knows what’s to come!
Purchasing books and media that have an interdisciplinary approach is also easy. There are beautiful books on art and science; a few recent additions:
Last winter we initiated a Science and Art Interest Group at Denison. The group is made up of any faculty interested in the relationship and collaborative possibilities between the two disciplines. Our initial meeting had about 30 people. We have decided to take the group in two directions. There is a reading group for faculty who are interested in STEAM pedagogy and methods of teaching creativity. We hope to start an immersion group this year – where we hold hands-on workshops in studios and labs, learning how artists and scientists work in their spaces.
Our current project is an artwork proposal for the Green Revolution exhibition to be hosted at the Denison Museum in the spring. Green Revolution is a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition that provides “education and inspiration for protecting our planet through sustainable living.” Six of us from the Science and Art group proposed (and had accepted!) and “eco-zibit” about fracking in Ohio. Stay tuned for more on that ambitious project.
Overall it’s been an interesting experience to work collaboratively with another librarian on fostering interdisciplinary conversation. The process is slow but the connections I’ve made with faculty have been wonderful. We are planning a November meeting with the Science and Art group to discuss 3D printing, a topic that is trending in science, art, and libraries!
Barrett, Estelle. “Experiential Learning in Practice as Research: Context, Method, Knowledge.” Journal of Visual Art Practice 6.2 (2007): 115-124.
de Cosson, Alex F. “(Re)searching Sculpted A/r/tography: (Re)learning Subverted Knowing through Aporetic Praxis.” Dissertation. University of British Columbia, 2003: available at https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/14902
Irwin, Rita L. “Becoming A/r/tography.” Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research 54.3 (2013): 198-215.
Irwin, Rita L., et al. “The Rhizomatic Relations of A/r/tography.” Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research 48.1 (2006): 70-88.
Irwin, Rita L. Introduction. A/r/tography: Rendering Self Through Arts-based Living Inquiry. Edited by Irwin and de Cosson. Vancouver: Pacific International Press, 2004. 27-38.
Marshall, Julia and Kimberley D’Adamo. “Art Practice as Research in the Classroom.” Art Education 64.5 (2011): 12-18.
Newbury, Darren. “Knowledge and Research in Art and Design.” Design Studies 17.1 (1996): 215-219.
O’Donoghue, Donal. “Are We Asking the Wrong Questions in Arts-Based Research?” Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research 50.4 (2009): 352-368.
Phelan, Peggy and Irit Rogoff. “‘Without’: A Conversation.” Art Journal 60.3 (2001): 34-41.
Pryer, Alison. “Living with/in Marginal Spaces: Intellectual Nomadism and Artist/Researcher/Teacher Praxis.” A/r/tography: Rendering Self Through Arts-based Living Inquiry. Ed. Rita L. Irwin and Alex de Cosson. Vancouver: Pacific International Press, 2004. 198-213.
Springgay, Stephanie, Rita L. Irwin, and Sylvia Wilson Kind. “A/r/tography as Living Inquiry Through Art and Text.” Qualitative Inquiry 11.6 (2005): 897-912.
Sullivan, Graeme. Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts. Thousand Oaks,CA: Sage Publications, 2005.
Sullivan, Graeme. “Research Acts in Art Practice.” Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research 48.1 (2006): 19-35.
Zanin-Yost, Alessia and Erin Tapley. “Learning in the Art Classroom: Making the Connection Between Research and Art.” Art Documentation 27.2 (2008): 40-45.
The final day of ARLIS Pasadena was full of great sessions. In the morning, I attended Doing Data Together: Engaging End-Users in Building Richer Resources, More Efficiently. Here are my notes:
BWR: Collaborating to Document the World’s Built Environment by Carole Ann Fabian, Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
– Built Works Registry – architects and designers; building or structure that has been built (even if no longer present) and is habitable at the human scale
– for artworks and architectural structures, there is no equivalent to ISBN or ISSN…had to create a unique identifier system
– core data is a disaster and needs to be limited and corrected…even not consistent across singular database
– three major work efforts: policies (founders and contributor agreements); tools and infrastructure (ARTstor; data – contribution environment, repositories, sharing); content (name, location, unique ID required for Core)
– content development: curate, aggregate, disambiguate, normalize, enhance
– enhancing data: geo-coding strategy (issues with buildings outside traditional locations like named streets or issues with anonymity so they created a hierarchal data block to deal with levels of generality/specificity)
– How will Built Works Registry gain scale? institutional contributory model and expert crowdsourcing experiment
Your Paintings: The UK’s Entire Public Oil Paintings Collection Goes Online For The World To See by Andrew Ellis, Director, The Public Catalogue Foundation
– opening up UK’s public art collections for enjoyment, learning and research
– engaging the collections: creating your paintings; 80% of paintings in UK are in storage…
– publicly owned – over 210,000 paintings in oil, tempera, acrylic, and mixed media
– 50% of collections have fewer than 10 paintings!
– London team doing data processing, image management, editing and copyright clearance (2,700 cataloging contracts, 30 freelance photographers, 50 regional researchers, over 6 mil pounds over 10 years)
– 300,000 unique users per month
– Galaxy Zoo as inspiration for cataloging; free text workflows and fixed list workflows; over 9,000 registered taggers
– Tweet about this painting and it automatically links your tweet back to painting!
– technology + goodwill + verification = useful resource
The Creator as Cataloger: Shared Shelf and Faculty Collections by Vickie O’Riordan, University of California San Diego Library
– using social media can bridge the gap between expert and non-expert
– digitizing audiovisual materials from department of music…using shared shelf allows the faculty member to do the metadata
– Zambian Storytellers project has over 1,300 stories to be documented (over 20 years of field work) – committed to share his work as freely as possible and can sure it with the University of Zambia!!!
-inSite: public projects
Then I switched directions and listened to Sue Maberry (Director of Library and Instructional Technology), Debra Ballard (English faculty and Chair of Liberal Arts and Sciences), and Parme Giuntini (Art Historian and Director of Art History) from Otis College of Art and Design talk about teaching and assessing information literacy across the curriculum. Some notes from the session:
– first efforts: one shot library visits; required 1 unit research class (didn’t work; not sustainable) – lack of transference of research skills in these efforts
– embedded in curriculum. how? move from faculty and librarian working together to faculty and librarian involved in curriculum and course design
– TILT Texas Information Literacy Tutorial for students (3 hour tutorial) – didn’t really work; seemed like an add-on and the faculty didn’t even have the skills!
– We began to think that librarians were more than people who help us find things to people who make us think about information.
– mentor to student researchers; instructional partner to faculty
– “must be nice to have a PhD; your students don’t”
– step by step pathfinders @ OTIS
– create an evaluation form for student annotated bibliographies asking them to do a citation, evaluate, and tell where the source was found – it’s on web
– embedded video tutorials in online syllabi
– embedded instruction: scavenger hunts, show and tell, chronology lesson using Oxford Art Online
– curriculum mapping: proficiencies identified by librarian and instruction, assignments, & assessments
– redesigned first year core to include readings on the role of information in society, intellectual property & copyright, and social media
– aligned information literacy and critical thinking (getting the faculty to know that they are very similar and require each other)
– mandatory guided research module into course assignment – turned into training faculty to assist with guided research and this gave librarians the opportunity to talk with faculty about how the students are researching
– iSearch: paper about how they did their research
– library assessment has moved from data stats (circ, gate counts) to instruction
– VALUE rubric…
– started learning portfolio on learning management system to have students track their research and discoveries over their 4 years
– baby steps mean you don’t fail too much and it’s easy to pick yourself up!
– sell your services to one faculty member in the department and let them do the internal outreach for you
In mid-February I attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting. The theme of the five-day meeting was The Beauty and Benefits of Science. This theme supports the movement from STEM education to STEAM, adding Art to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Many of the panels focused on the use of visualizations and creative practices in the lab. Some of the panels I attended were very engaging to visual and performing artists. Here are some brief notes from those speakers.
Artful Science (3 of 5 lectures) The Herbarium as Muse: Plant Specimens as Inspiration
Maura Flannery (Biology, St. John’s University, NY) provided a visual history of herbariums. While she differentiated on the more scientific views of botanists to those of artists and curiosity collectors, Flannery also emphasized that the field would not have been able to move forward without artists’ illustrations of specimens. She also commented on contemporary artists inspired by plants including John Sarra, Amy Youngs, and Michele Oka Doner.
Sand Dollars, Echinodermata, and Radiolaria: Sculptural Forms from Hyperbolic Tessellations George Hart uses mathematical applications to create sculpture and video. Many of his sculptures are made of small, simple shapes that can be connected into large, complex forms. Hart is now exploring 3D printing to make models of his pieces and to create more fragile tessellations.
Evidence from Music, Fiction, and the Visual Arts: Transfer of Learning from the Arts? (3 of 5 lectures)
This was an interesting set of presentations about the transferability of art skills to other (specifically science and math) domains. What surprised me was the intense focus of the research, selecting one tangible skill (ie drawing) and seeing if it directly applies to one specific field (ie geometry). While I am certain that technical training in the arts can enhance learning and understanding in other disciplines, I was hoping to see a panel of psychologists consider the cognitive aspect of art appreciation. These three lectures touched on this aspect.
What Does it Mean to be Musical? On the Genetics of Music Ability Daniel J. Levitin (psychology, McGill University) uses music as a model for understanding “gene by environment” interactions. Music is multi-modal because the components of discipline can be seen as variations in expertise; and, components of expertise may not be directly related to music (physicality, memory, attention). Though his research is still inconclusive, Levitin’s work shows the depth of the arts as comprised of both field-specific skill sets and broad elements of nature/nurture.
Visual Art as Non-Artificial – and thus Transferable? – Domain of Expertise Aaron Kozbelt (psychology, CUNY) studies drawing as a flexible skill set that may transfer to other domains that also require that skill set. He has done extensive research on artists and concludes that the arts is a domain that is robust and easily adaptable. Because artists see the world differently, studying the arts may transfer skills of perception, contrast sensitivity, and object recognition, among others.
Effects of Literature Keith Oatley (psychology, University of Toronto) considered the cognitive benefits of reading fiction and other forms of creative writing. His research has demonstrated that people who read fiction “engage in social simulations and get better at understanding selves” while those who read non-fiction “get better at the subject matter” of what they are reading. Reading fiction not only increases an understanding of self but also increases empathy and teaches skill sets applicable to social interaction.
Benefits Beyond Beauty: Integration of Art and Design into STEM Education and Research
Instead of individual presentations, these panelist elected to briefly introduce themselves and then break the session attendees into groups for conversation. The panelists were Gunalan Nadarajan (Dean of School of Art & Design, University of Michigan), Brian K. Smith (RISD), J.D. Talasek (National Academy of Sciences), and Marina McDougall (Exploratorium, San Francisco). All of these panelists’ work focus on bridging art and science in education at their respective institutions. The outcome of the session demonstrated that, while the two disciplines are beginning an important conversation, there are questions, uncertainties, misconceptions, and above all, fear.
The other lectures I attended made me acutely aware of this disconnect between science and art. Many of the scientists seemed unfamiliar with contemporary art and appeared uncomfortable with works in mediums other than traditional painting or drawing. Most of the scientists did not explore art beyond the visuals necessary for their own work.
One scientist did, however. Tom Kirchhausen of Harvard Medical exclusively studies clathrin coats which are how cells eat (and spit). Working at the molecular level, Kirchhausen realized he needed strong visuals to demonstrate his work and teach cellular structure to his students. Clathrin coats take about a minute to form and then go away. Because there is the element of time in clathrin lifecycles, Kirchhausen has selected video over still images. More importantly, he sets music to these videos. I asked him about his choice in adding sound. He said that he felt the music provided a narrative to that lifecycle that was easy for his students (and others) to miss otherwise. Kirchhausen’s work was one of the few lectures I attended where a scientist used art and technology to not only complement but enhance his research.
At the AAAS science librarians session, Denison’s Natural Sciences Librarian Moriana Garcia and I presented The Library as Bridge Between Science and Art. We introduced the history of the disciplines in relationship to Snow’s The Two Cultures and the latest news about the STEAM initiative. We also discussed contemporary studies on creativity in the research process. From here we demonstrated examples of interdisciplinarity at Dension’s library, mentioning collection development and exhibitions. We finished by framing the trend for makerspaces in libraries as part of the STEAM campaign, teaching creativity and inviting serendipitous discovery in the library. Learn more on our Science and Art guide.
Attending the AAAS meeting as an artist and as a librarian was an excellent opportunity for me to gain an understanding of how other disciplines view the arts. The arts are often marginalized in education and while STEAM intends to change that, exploring new pedagogy without artists’ insight could be damaging. Likewise, as I move forward with my research in creativity, talking with those in the STEM disciplines will provide me with a richer understanding of how the library as service and space can support innovation in STEM.