This blog post is going to be a bit different from my previous posts. I feel as though it is not only necessary, but an integral part of my own grappling with the state I find myself in.
As of late, I have felt as though a large part of my work and of who I am has had to struggle in order to find legitimacy within an academic world. What is considered legitimate work within the institution? Does the creative—writing, singing, beading, drawing, performing—actually have a space within the academy?
I argue: YES. However, it is not as simple as saying that the creative has a place within knowledge production, or that it can be a part of research-creation or theorization. Not only does the creative stand on equal level with the academic in terms of its importance, it is vital.
Does the creative—writing, singing, beading, drawing, performing—actually have a space within the academy?
Without art, without active and ongoing engagement with the creative in our everyday lives, we risk losing or denying a huge part of who we are. In my mind, there is no reason why a large piece of beadwork cannot function as an “essay,” why poetry and creative writing cannot be accepted as theory or research, why a burlesque performance cannot act as a response to academic queries.
I would argue that the research that goes into creative writing is even more in-depth than academic forms—taking note of sights and sounds and smells, walking around certain places you want to talk about to ensure authenticity, noting patterns of speech and recreating them—all of these doings are research, are legitimate, are important. The time and dedication it takes to bead something, and to teach others about beadwork within a classroom setting, are decolonial approaches to knowledge production and are necessary for revitalization of traditional practices. Doing the creative work that we, as Indigenous scholars, need to do are important resurgent acts of sovereignty.
Spend time with the creative as often as you are able.
I know that there are other folks out there who know exactly what I am talking about. To you I say: allow the creative to thrive! Spend time with the creative as often as you are able. Write that story you have wanted to write for so long, draw your reality, bead the moon, perform your truth on stage. Do whatever it is that brings you to that engagement with the creative. For me, lately, it has been through creative short fiction and poetry, through writing songs as a singer/songwriter, and through sewing and beading.
The creative is a gift. We need to grab onto the creative and allow it to guide us, to speak to us, to teach us about where we have been and where we are headed. Through the creative, we will learn more about who we are and where we need to move forward.
By Brittany Johnson
Of all the gifts I have been given by beads,
the greatest of all has been
seeing the determination on the faces
of learners learning from a learner
taught by size 10s and some waxed B thread
Métis flowers budding and opening
their faces smiling
piercing in and out of felt or leather
with Glovers found in black and yellow packets
artisans in the making
Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.