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Dimensions of practice: The skandhas as a gestalt-Informed framework for holistic approaches to post-secondary contemporary arts education

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
This study proposes a holistic view of post-secondary contemporary arts education within a framework informed by both Gestalt theory and the Buddhist conception of the skandhas. Such a framework enables one to track a fluctuating series of physical, cognitive, and perceptual points of departure by which one might understand the variable and dialogical nature of inquiry and human experience in general. I rely on Mahayana Buddhist traditions that conceive the skandhas as five interdependent states. These states operate without a fixed hierarchical organization and modulate organically in response to evolving circumstances. The categories of the skandhas are defined as form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. These categories are relevant to the multimodal and transdisciplinary aspects of contemporary arts practices in that they bridge aspects of psychology, sensory perception, analytical thought, and materiality. I transpose the aforementioned understanding to issues specific to contemporary arts education in five "interior" chapters (Chapters 2-6) framed by introductory and summary discussions (Chapters 1 and 7). Chapters 2-6 provisionally identify constituent elements of practice according to an expanded sense of what comprises art, including "studio" arts. My aim with this conceptual transposition of the skandhas to arts-related practice is to convey a decentralized "field"-like orientation to possibilities immanent in contemporary arts education, maximizing diverse potentials of inquiry according to the mutually responsive aims, capacities, and sensibilities of instructors and students. This orientation is supported by reference to a diversity of relevant perspectives drawn from within and outside the domains of contemporary arts and educational theory, focusing primarily on elements of contemplative inquiry, philosophy of science, gestalt-related philosophy, and socio-material theory. Vignettes drawn from my teaching experience in contemporary arts and educational philosophy will illustrate the substance and relevance of these perspectives in practice.
138 pages.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Bai, Heesoon
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