Ann Rowson Love

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My research and theory development focuses on collaborative curatorial and educational practices in art museums. Using a feminist systems thinking[1] (FST) framework (onto-epistemological orientation), I try to better understand and advocate for curatorial collaboration that includes disenfranchised voices—voices often excluded during the colonial historical foundations of art museums and entrenched hierarchical leadership structures—and re-envision organizational culture that is non-hierarchical, inclusive, and community-based. For the past three decades, art museums have made slow, but gradual progress toward change; however, in our current moment during and post-COVID, art museums are gaining momentum more rapidly to redefine their roles in society with more emphasis on decolonizing and reinterpreting collections that lead to more participatory, inclusive, civically engaged, and social action-oriented exhibitions. Using primarily qualitative methods, my research examines how museum curators, educators, and visitors contribute to exhibition development, interpretive planning, and organizational change. In collaboration with Pat Villeneuve, my recent theoretical development includes the Dimensions of Curation Competing Values Model (visualized here).

Art Segues

I am currently co-authoring a book with Deborah Randolph titled, An Introductory Guide to Qualitative Research in Art Museums. The book introduces an overview of nine methodologies for art museum professionals including curators, educators, and graduate students. The introductory figure shows how the book may be used by a reader. Selections of the artwork shown here are part of the Artist Segues, a feature at the start of every chapter that aligns a contemporary artist’s working processes with methods of qualitative research.

[1] Feminist systems thinking was first articulated by Anne Stephens (2013), Ecofeminism and Systems Thinking.

Figure 1. How to use the book map. Deborah Randolph and Ann Rowson Love.

Figure 2. Shawne Major, Black Ice, 2020, mixed-media, 37” x 20 ½”. Courtesy of Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans.

Artist Segue – Shawne Major, Black Ice

As a segue into the introduction chapter, we feature Black Ice by Shawne Major. Shawne Major’s working process closely resembles Denzin and Lincoln’s (2003; 2012) metaphorical descriptions of qualitative researcher as a bricoleur and the process as quiltmaking. This segue will go on to explain Major’s own use of the term bricolage to describe her artworks and working process that reflect her family’s Cajun culture in rural Louisiana. When museum visitors view her pieces from across the gallery, they are large and seemingly abstract, whereupon close-up viewing the abstract forms turn into discreet, individual and seemingly unrelated found objects that are readily identifiable bound together with thread and fabric. The segue will continue to analyze this work as a step into the next chapter that defines and introduces major articulators and forms of qualitative research.

Figure 3. Lilian Garcia-Roig, Fluid Perceptions: Banyan as Metaphor, 2015, oil on canvas (15 panels), 14’ x 20’. Courtesy of the artist.

Artist Segue – Lilian Garcia-Roig, Fluid Perception: Banyan as Metaphor

Born in Cuba and raised in the US, Lillian Garcia-Roig employs plein-air painting techniques—painting and experiencing her landscapes in the moment—a tradition championed by Impressionist artists of the late 19th Century. To create this mural-sized, and multi-paneled work, which was a response to experiencing and painting the banyan trees in the gardens of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the artist worked directly in the natural environment. The artist describes her working process, “I believe in the cumulative effects of small actions. The longer I look, the more I see, and my “all-day” plein-air paintings have become documents of a real-time process: the accumulation of fleeting moments, the experience of the day.” (Garcia-Roig, 2018). This process parallels phenomenological research methods described in the following chapter.

Figure 4. Taha Heydari, The Museum, 2017-2019, acrylic on canvas, 9’ 7” x 7’. Courtesy of the artist.

Artist Segue – Taha Heydari, The Museum

As a segue into the grounded theory methodological chapter, we focus on a work by Taha Heydary entitled, The Museum. Heydari left his home in Tehran, Iran to study art in the United States at the Maryland Institute College of Art. His painting is grounded in research into events and subjects, usually referencing Iranian history and religion and the volatile relationship between the United States and Iran. He works directly from a growing archive of source material about these subjects, and generally, painting as the epitome of mark making by humans. With acrylic paint, he systematically develops his approach to the subject of his painting, based on source material, and builds upon or deconstructs the archival material’s original story. His artistic process mirrors grounded theory, a qualitative methodology which develops theory from data. He is interested in the use of media imagery, especially the ever-present digital screen, which shapes perceptions and political outcomes. Each painting begins with a digital folder, which contains one main source image and notes about the image. He uses paint, not digital alteration, to manipulate, deconstruct, reconstruct and pixelate the source image. Much like grounded theory, this process allows for elements of spontaneity, impulse, or accident in his painting.

Figure 5. Jennifer Drinkwater, The Childfree Life (August, 13, 2013: Part I), 2015, embroidery floss on cotton, 10.5" x 7.5". Courtesy of the artist.

Artist Segue – Jennifer Drinkwater, Time & People Covers

Jennifer Drinkwater’s series 168 Hours presents cross-stitched images replicating covers of TIME and People magazines, both of which are released on the same day each week. Using a feminist framework, the artist explores the gendered issues of popular media. The works also comments upon needlework as a traditional female craft. These pieces are displayed together as a diptych, or double portrait, to invite viewers to investigate and make their own comparisons and interpretations. Over the last few years, the artist has worked on this series, her stitches have become smaller, more in-focus, and less pixelated-looking in the finished form; this also reflects how her cross-stitching skills are more refined over time. Similar ideas come to fruition in the following chapter that guides readers through coding, which includes making comparisons, developing categories, refining skills and interpretations using a theoretical lens.

Figure 6. Jennifer Drinkwater, First Days Home (August 12, 2013: Part II), 2015, embroidery floss on cotton, 10.5" x 7.5". Courtesy of the artist.

Artist Segue – Jennifer Drinkwater, Time & People Covers

Jennifer Drinkwater’s series 168 Hours presents cross-stitched images replicating covers of TIME and People magazines, both of which are released on the same day each week. Using a feminist framework, the artist explores the gendered issues of popular media. The works also comments upon needlework as a traditional female craft. These pieces are displayed together as a diptych, or double portrait, to invite viewers to investigate and make their own comparisons and interpretations. Over the last few years, the artist has worked on this series, her stitches have become smaller, more in-focus, and less pixelated-looking in the finished form; this also reflects how her cross-stitching skills are more refined over time. Similar ideas come to fruition in the following chapter that guides readers through coding, which includes making comparisons, developing categories, refining skills and interpretations using a theoretical lens.

Department

Art Education

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Connections

While there is no overarching theme that unites every faculty member in this exhibition, everyone is connected to someone else through a web of ideas and provocations. We encourage you to use these tags to navigate from one scholar to the next, while understanding that these concepts do not fully account for the depth and nuance of the work you are encountering.

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