The inspiration for the project comes mostly from readings discussing public art. Installations of mathematical formulas made into pudding and placed in supermarkets (Barney & Castro, 2014) and the gate projects telling stories of immigrants in Canada (Irwin et al, 2009) reminded me of work I had done as an undergraduate on University of Arizona campus as the guerrilla sidewalk chalk poet [Francis the Poet]. Making connects to my Second Language Acquisition and Teaching program where I work with creativity and the arts in second language acquisition, I wanted to bring about a project that could potentially lend support to the notion that students and the general populace will engage with art if given the chance. Creativity in language (Cook, 2000) and in genre play (Devitt, 2004) could be connected to this everyday creativity that is sometimes viewed by the general populace as not "creative" because it is not Art with a capital A.
Pulling from the work of Graeme Sullivan (2004, 2006) , Irwin & Springgay (2008), and Irwin & O'Donohue (2012), I wanted to show how arts-based research is just as much about the practice and process as it is about the final product. "If the purpose is to create new knowledge, then the outcome isn't just to explain in a casual way, but to fully understand" (Sullivan, 2006, 22), which includes the behind the scenes process, not just the final products. Concepts from a/r/tography which point to living inquiry (Irwin & Springgay, 2008) and the influence of the researcher on the research, practicing and taking part in the research also guide the principles behind showing the process with the product. Embracing productive ambiguity (Shipe, 2015) also becomes an important part of explaining my feelings as a researcher and the challenges faced with a first attempt at a radically different research methodology than I had been taught during previous studies, and writing as a method inquiry (Richardson & St. Pierre, 2005) quickly becomes the driving force of the process section of the installations. Also, building off work which discusses visual images as in arts-based research, Weber in Knowles & Cole (2008, 47) mentions "once the visual material is produced, the resulting collection might then be the basis of further discussion, interviews, and/or analysis," which is precisely what I hope the website might do with the presentation of the subsequent images. Additionally, I wanted to value even the images that are created by students, showing that "methods that put the production in the hands of nonprofessionals can project a credibility and authenticity that more polished and accomplished works cannot always achieve...the lack of artifice in the not-always-technically-perfect images that sometimes makes them more convincing, more true to life" (Weber in Knowles & Cole, 2008, 47). This presentation of photographs and art from non-professionals (participants as well as myself) is meant to highlight the truth of the everyday creativity, rather than the calculated or professionally crafted Art with a capital A that the everyday man fears he cannot achieve.
This project attempts to show both sides, including the occluded genre of the behind-the-scenes process of conducting research. Again, take the time to read both parts, product and process, and contemplate the meaning of the two placed side-by-side.