Visual Mythopoesis in the Community Art Studio: A Case Study

by Jean Tait

In this paper the role visual imagery provides as a foundation for the emergence of storytelling or personal mythmaking (mythopoesis) is examined. A single case study emerges from one woman's experience in an open community art studio. The study has a circular nature, in keeping with applicable Aboriginal teachings and values of unity and relatedness. At its heart is the philosophy that everything that exists is perceived as symbolic in an Aboriginal person's world.

The methodology utilized to navigate through visual mythopoesis is art-based, phenomenological and hermeneutically oriented, with emerging archetypes tied to personal myth formation with an Aboriginal cultural basis.

The research question is whether the making of artwork stimulates a cultural storytelling response in the case of an Aboriginal client. The subject of this single case study, when given time and space outside the Community Art Studio, responded to the art making process by relating detailed and complex stories of her memories. The focus always contained cultural aspects and related to an Aboriginal way of telling a story. The art became a catalyst that was used as a way to order painful memories and contain the emotional responses to past experiences.