Eletyt tilat kuvataiteilijan työssä ja koulutuksessa (2019)

Lived spaces in the Artist’s work and Arts Education
Dissertation of Department of Art
Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture

PDF of the book here!

From an artist-teacher’s perspective, I research the relationship between artistic work and the process of becoming an artist. The underlying motivation for the research is the concern about the indirect tasks assigned to art and the fine arts education, such as answering economic or political demands. In artistic work, a space is created for something that is still taking shape. The foundation of an artist-teacher’s work is the teacher’s own artistic work that requires tolerance of incompleteness, insecurity and change. The student’s artistic work and the studio discussions about the work are central in teaching, guidance and learning.

The research describes how my work as a visual artist has affected me as a teacher. In academic fine arts education, it is challenging to verbalize artistic work because the language and the meanings of fine arts are not canonizable to things that are ”already known”. In my research, I argue that the most important form of fine arts education is the discussion between the teacher and the student. In the presence of the artwork is born, a mental space of in-between, brought about by the meetings of the teacher and the student. As I see it, such a space is particularly relevant in the teaching of artists.

The methods used in the research are the observation of artistic work and the reflections of teaching and learning. In addition, the study utilizes interviews and discussions with chosen teachers and students. The theoretical framework consists of art pedagogy, phenomenology and poststructuralist philosophy, and partly psychoanalytic concepts. In addition to the written part, the doctoral degree includes three pre-examined artistic productions that have been exhibited at galleries, namely the video installations: Domestic disorder (2012), Therefore it is here (2012) and Parousia (2016). Making artworks is part of the research itself.

In teaching, the importance of subjective experiences and the personal perspective is great. Teaching is about seeing the other, and at the same time seeing myself through the perspective of an artist-teacher. Things learned and taught in an artist’s work, such as sketching and acceptance of the space of betweenness, become a part of the teacher’s professional skills. Verbalizing the artwork and the studio talks are seen as a strengthening factor in constructing a professional image of the artist that is in constant change. The research shows that the specific issues of fine arts are related to the concept of free art, where the meanings are emerging. At the same time, the research contributes to the development of fine arts pedagogy.

The study aims to show that it is important to incorporate pedagogical changes in the tradition of the fine arts education. Also, it is important to consider the question of “how to teach” rather than “what is taught”. The research fosters understanding about the education of fine arts and artistic work. It justifies the importance of the artistic work in creating new connections between artists and in relations with other sectors of society.