artful earth connection

Many of the ways of knowing (and listening) that are encouraged in the reading (and were used in the making) of this 'text' have required attention to the knowing that came through my body. This required development of a different modality of perceiving (Bai, 2003, 2009), which, according to Bai (2009), requires re-animation of disembodied perception and may be the "fundamental task" of environmental educators (p. 136).

In the context of this research, this new form of perceiving was developed through my work with collage and is theorized by Lipsett (2001) as "artful earth connection" (p. iii) – spontaneous painting that enables communion with animate Earth and which can be represented in images, narrative and poetry (p. 44). I was introduced to "artful earth connection" in an art workshop led by Lipsett in 2005 (which the swing of the pendulum dowser suggested I attend).

In this research, insights attained through artful earth connection have been combined with my own (and other humans') insights, to enable the making of new (and previously unthought) meanings. Both my own process of art-making, and the reader's engagement with the work of various artists who collaborated in this project, offer listening spaces which open up possibilities for hearing and responding to insights from the more-than-human world (see Lipsett, 2001). The results in this case, are a "different kind of academic voice" (Lather, 2006, p. 44).

The beginnings of doing this work were difficult, however, since I kept trying to think my way through the art pieces. After sitting on my desk for several months, this collage never did get 'finished' – although additional layers that I added much later have provided some valuable insights.

The biggest challenge of doing this work of listening was letting go of the powerfully inscribed assumptions that knowing (and in this case painting) is an effect of thought. It was only in releasing the hold of (and my desire to be led by), my conceptualizing mind and following the movements of my hands, that I could begin to 'hear' the insights of animate Earth – and eventually move to complete the collages contained in this dissertation. The act of collage-making itself was an act of embodied awareness, which both supported and required the ending of "habitual thought construction" (Bai, 2009, p. 144).

See Barrett (2007, p. 216 onward) as well as the method(ology) section, for a more extensive and storied description of the process of letting go of conceptual reasoned consciousness in order to create in communion with Earth.