Qualitative research (QR) values subjectivity, personal meaning for the researcher, where it gives a voice to the oppressed. According to Denzin and Lincoln:
“Qualitative research is multi-method in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting
to make sense of or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials
case study, personal experience, introspective, life story interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts- that describe routine and problematic moments and meaning
in individuals' lives. (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p. 3)
methods of QR are more flexible, responsive, and open to contextual interpretation than in quantitative research, which uses inventory, questionnaire, or numerical data to draw conclusions. In Qualitative Research in Practice (2000), Sharan Merriam
combines discussions of the types of QR with examples of research studies and reflections by the researchers themselves. An important resource for students and practitioners of QR, the book may be used as a companion to any general text on QR. (Merriam, 2002).
According to Merriam, this method of inquiry seeks to understand the social phenomena within the context of the participants' perspectives and experiences.
Given the purpose, and research questions guiding this study, I chose to use narrative inquiry. The interviews address and explore the experiences of women artists. It was important to me to us interviewees to validate or invalidate my research with their
stories. The narrative inquiry methodology enables me to view and understand the participant’s stories as socially constructed lived experiences of their own and of others. In addition, it allowed me to make my own interpretation of their stories and
my own lived realities.
What is narrative inquiry methodology? It’s the relationship, the interview, it’s other data sources, it’s analyzing the narrative data
and it’s writing the narrative. According to Clandin and Connelly, narrative inquiry is grounded in relationships (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). The relationship between the interviewer and interviewee is critical. The researcher needs
to take time to build rapport before, during and after the interview.
Narrative interviews are time intensive. The seven interviews in this study lasted anywhere from an hour or two.
I kept the sample small with a total of seven participants, four historians and three artists. The interviews were planned to enable a comfortable environment for conversation. Using a relaxed location, it was easier for the interviewee to focus and
reflect on their story than the answers to the questions. Interviewers “invite” stories and listen attentively (Chase, 2005).
The questions for these inquiries
were broad and open ended. Most of the time it was more of a relaxed conversation and discussion rather than an interview. The interviews were organic and semi-structured, this allows for digression. Their stories could go off in a different direction, this
structure was optimal so not to lose information I possibly could connect to this research questions. The questions would change for each interviewee. The exact questions were not asked, of all participants, but they were questions connected to the study.
Since I didn’t conduct the interview reading off a list of questions, at the end of the interview I made sure that we covered all of the salient points that connected to this research. “Be prepared to ask good questions that will guide the
participant in telling the story knowing that the very nature of storytelling is that it cannot be predicted or known in advance.” (Chase, 2005).
At the end of the interview I took some field notes and sent the recorded interview out for transcription. Rather than analyzing the data as soon it was returned from being transcribed, I used the interview’s content to inform me of better questions
and ideas for the proceeding interviews. After all the interviews were transcribed this was when I conducted a formal analysis of the data.
In addition to the plethora of literature covering the topic of women in art history, the study includes three successful contemporary women artists. Through the artist’s stories, I discover various struggles the artists endured along with their personal
accomplishments, their drive and motives, etc. I recorded some of the insights of four academic historians on women in art history, and specifically their teaching experiences in higher education. Both participant’s insights and stories
are tied in with the findings in Chapter IV.
I conducted an investigation and inquiry using four academic historians and three women artists in
an unstructured interview, more like a relaxed conversation. The criteria I assigned to the historians provided the specific needs of this study. These are highly revered historians that possess the desire to improve the inclusion of women artists in
history, they are educators, and published or are experts in their field. The historians interviewed in this study over a six month period were: Dr. Katherine Charron, North Carolina; Carol Damian, Miami, Florida; Mark Alexander, Palm Coast, Florida; Roberta
Favis, DeLand, Florida. I sought out three American women artists with diverse geographical backgrounds, mediums they work with and different art world levels of success. The artist interviewees were: Cecelia Lueza, St. Petersburg, Florida via
Argentina; Ofra Friedman, Sarasota, Florida via Israel; Auburn Ellis, Chicago, Illinois.
In addition, the artists that participated
in the study were chosen for their diversity. Out of the three artist interviewees, two of them are originally from different countries. The historians in this study were chosen because they are also college professors in the U.S. college system.
Historian Participant’s Biographies
Dr. Roberta Smith Favis is Professor Emeritus
of Art History at Stetson University and serves as curator of the Vera Bluemner Kouba Collection, an important legacy of artworks by American Modernist Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938).
She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. in Art History from Bryn Mawr College.
Dr. Roberta Favis teaches a varied menu of
Art History classes and serves as curator of the Vera Bluemner Kouba Collection. She has lectured and published in a variety of areas of historical and contemporary art, with particular emphasis on women in art and American landscape painting. She is author
of Martin Johnson Heade in Florida (University Press of Florida, 2003) and Oscar Bluemner: A Daughter's Legacy (2004), as well as articles for publications including American Art and American Art Review, and numerous catalogs
on contemporary artists. She has been a member of the Stetson faculty since 1985.
Mark Alexander, ISA, MA, is a fully Accredited Member of The International Society
of Appraisers. He received his Masters of Fine Arts degree in Visual Art from Florida State University in 1975. He is the past Director of Art Galleries at the University of Texas at El Paso, Appalachian State University, The University of Miami, and Cameron
University. He served as Curator of Exhibitions and Education at the Tarble Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University, Director of the Crealde School of Art and Managing Editor and Publisher of Art Visions, Inc.
He has taught studio art, art history art appreciation and museum studies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Before founding Art Services 2000 Ltd., his private independent fine art appraisal and consulting
firm, Mr. Alexander was the Executive Director of the Deland Museum of Art.
Mr. Alexander is also the curator and originator of "John James Audubon, American Artist and Naturalist" a nationally
traveling exhibition that has been presented by eighteen consecutive museum and fine art venues throughout the United States. Mr. Alexander is an independent professional member of the American Association of Museums. Most recently he served as a fine art
consultant for the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Dr. Carol Damian, professor and former chairperson of Florida International University’s School
of Art and Art History, has been named director and chief curator of The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University located on the University Park Campus. Damian, a respected member of
Miami’s arts community, has served as interim director of the Frost since May, and curator of the museum’s permanent collection since 2006.
Dr. Carol Damian is a graduate
of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., and received her MA in Pre-Columbian Art and her Ph.D. in Latin American History from the University of Miami. A specialist in Latin American and Caribbean Art, she teaches classes in Pre-Columbian, Colonial, Spanish and
Contemporary Latin American Art, Modern Art surveys and Women in Art. Her most recent work has been with Latin American Women and the Cuban exile artists, for whom she has written numerous catalogs and articles. She is the author of The Virgin of the Andes:
Art and Ritual in Colonial Cuzco (Grassfield Press, 1995) Dr. Carol Damian, Director & Chief Curator, Women in Art – The Museum Exhibits Feature Women
Mellen-Charron Associate Professor, Advisor, M.A. in Afro-American Studies at North Carolina University. She earned her doctorate at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her Masters in U.S. History at Yale University. In 2006-2007 she completed
her Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
In 2010 Dr. Charron was awarded the North Carolina State
University CHASS Outstanding Teacher Award. She is the author of Freedom’s Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark: Which received the 2010 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize from the Southern Association of Women's Historians and the 2010 George C. Rogers
Jr. Prize from the South Carolina Historical Society. Charron was honored for her book,Freedom’s Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark, published by UNC
Press in 2009.
Artist Participant’s Biographies
Auburn Ellis is a visual artist based
in Chicago. Painting, drawing and collage are an essential part of her practice as she explores the use of traditional mediums for art of the African diaspora. Rooted in three-dimensional design, Auburn’s work pushes the boundaries of texture and rhythm.
During her graduate studies at the Art Institute-Chicago, her scope of work included shows in Chicago, Prague and Italy.
Currently, she is working on a series of paintings relative to
her doctoral dissertation centered in the Africentric Paradigm. As a member of the African Diaspora, she feels it is imperative to re-define culturally grounded aesthetic in contemporary society.
Cecilia Lueza is an Argentinean artist residing in Florida since 1998. She earned her Master’s in Painting at the Faculty of Arts in the National University of La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1998 she had her first solo show in Buenos
Aires. Shortly after the artist moved permanently to the United States. In the early 2000 Lueza began to show her work steadily in both group and solo shows in the United States, Argentina, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Her first large-scale sculptures were exhibited in Orlando, Florida in 2002. Since then she has been working on a variety of site-specific art projects and public art projects as well as private and public art commissions in many cities throughout the United
States and South America.
Her works include the sculpture series Diversity created between 2007 and 2011. The large-scale female faces are made of urethane and aluminum and
painted in various shades of orange, red and yellow. The sculptures have a three-dimensional effect and represent women from different ethnicities, generations and beliefs that are unified through the artist’s use of style and color.
Ofra Friedman works with steel and copper wire mesh, metal and mixed media. She creates life
size and smaller scale sculptures and reliefs, site specific installations and outdoor sculptures. Ofra was raised in Israel and currently lives and works in Sarasota, Florida.
work there is a fusion between the roughness of the wire mesh medium and the softness and flow of its lines. The large figures appear heavy, but are actually light since they are hollow. The semi-transparency of her medium create forms within forms and an
interplay of spaces, allowing the viewer to see into and through the sculpture. Some of her installations are suspended from the ceiling, defying gravity.
Her art studies include A.S
degree in Studio arts in Long Island, New York, Art and Design at Montgomery college in Rockville, Maryland, Figurative art at New York Academy of Art, stone sculpture with sculptor George Wagner in Bellaire, Florida, clay sculpture with Greek sculptor Eric
Pitsokos in Largo, Florida and Wire Mesh sculpture at Shulamit Hartal studio in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Ofra’s work was exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in museums, galleries
and other venues. Her sculptures are in private and public collections. Her art was published in magazines such as: The Professional Sculptor, Diversions, Tampa Bay, The performing artist and others. Ofra received various awards such as Best of Show, First
place and an Artist Grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
Ofra’s public works in Florida include outdoor sculpture for the City of Sarasota,
three installations for the Polk State College in Lakeland and four outdoor sculptures for Tampa outdoor art project, one of them received People’s Choice Award. In 2012 Ofra created a site specific installation of twenty sculptures at the Florida Museum
for Women Artists, and her recent sculptures were selected for an International exhibition in Pietrasanta, Italy.
All but one participant was initially contacted to participate in this study via email.The initial email summarized the studies purpose and my research intent. The participants corresponded quickly using this medium for communication.Once a participant
agreed to the interview, a confirmation email was sent.
The interviews were a spring board
when searching for reoccurring themes, ideas, and knowledge. By including these participants in the research process, I felt that the data and findings would be less bias and more truthful.
The historian’s interviews were used to provide and gather information, knowledge, their lived experiences in the classroom and their perspective on the underrepresentation of women in art history. The interviews with the artists gave me insight to their
personal experiences in today’s art world and helped me to identify or connect a variety of barriers that may lead to the underrepresentation of women in the art world.Both sets of participant’s stories helped explain more fully, the richness and
complexity of human behavior.
To be sure there were was not a hierarchal relationship between me and the participants, the interviews were conducted in a semi-structured
and relaxed manner. I met the participants in a variety of places ranging from public settings to the privacy of their homes. The location of the interviews played a significant role in the research process. Because of the dynamics of the interactions
between me and a participant, I allowed the interviewee to choose the meeting place or setting, that way they were more comfortable, relaxed and the conversation was more authentic. Below see an example of some
of the questions I asked:
INTERVIEW EXAMPLE QUESTIONS: Art Historians
First tell me about your background:
Describe your position, any professional study/education, when or how you first realized you wanted to be part of the art world, your current and past professions, and perhaps who was the most influential person in your life as an art historian. Second, do
you see discrepancies and gender discrimination in the representation of women in today’s art scene? For example, any exhibit, galleries, museums, public displays, history books?
- Today,phenomenologically (whether what is experienced is objectively
real) speaking, there are equal freedoms for both genders, women have access to the same art schools, they can gain entry into the same exhibits as men, they have the same education opportunities available as men, so is there still gender discrimination in
the art world and contemporary art history?
- What are some of the reasons for the discrepancies if any in your opinion and explain.
- When might have this gender discrimination started in art history? (The discrepancies/omission of women artists?)
- Do you think that the investors/collectors of fine art have much to do with who is considered important enough to make it into the art scene?
- Do you find it difficult to see women artists exhibited in museums?
EXAMPLE QUESTIONS: Artists
First tell me about your background: describe your art work, shows, any professional study/education, when or how you first realized you wanted
to become an artist, your current and past professions, when did your career take off, and perhaps who was the most influencing person in your life as an artist?
- In our immediate geographical location, there are equal freedoms for both genders
today; as women, we have access to the same art schools, we are given equal opportunity to gain entry into exhibits, we have equal education opportunities, so do you find that there’s still discrimination in the art world based on gender?
are some struggles that you personally encountered as an artist?
- What are some successes that you personally encountered as an artist?
- Do you find it difficult currently to exhibit in museums or gallery?
Other datasources used in narrative inquiry was the gathering of field notes, I observed participants in their natural setting. I kept a journal, and archived all written correspondence between myself and the participants. In addition, I have in possession,
artwork, photographs, and artifacts.
Separately, I analyze each participant’s narrative contributions, and then summarized the highlights and generated categories and themes in
the stories. I conducted a dialogue with myself to examine my own subjectivity between the narrator’s voice and my own reflections or personal insights about the data.
In the findings, chapter IV, I tell their stories, I interpret their stories individually and collectively, by weaving their stories with the literature review.
The historian’s provided syllabi to their classes, which show the material, deadlines, concept, and requirements
of a variety of courses. These are courses about women in history and are more general and include a representative way to include the work of women. Their syllabi contributed to the construction of the Feminist pedagogy art history courses design. These syllabis
are presented later in the ‘findings’ section of this study.
was transcribed. My first two transcripts were completed by myself. I found it to be arduous, very time consuming and tedious work and felt personally my time could be spent more wisely by having them completed by someone else. On a positive note, doing the
transcripts myself allowed me to re-listen to the conversation, analyze the data and find themes as I went along. Afterward, all recordings were transcribed through a professional transcriber immediately after the interview. The turnaround time to receiving
them back was extraordinarily fast, within days.
The research is in successive layers
of detail. I start off with a very broad piece of investigative research; women in art history. This level identifies the top issues and provides a better scope for the next layer. The next layer discusses the different hurdles women artists have crossed throughout
history. This layer identifies themes and categories of their strife. The discovered categories are more detailed and focus on a smaller area than the first level. With this data I was able to conduct organized and relevant research, finding and presenting
the best practices to a diverse group of adult students using feminist pedagogy.
entailed the review of each transcript, comparing them to the other interviews to find an initial set of common categories. With every subsequent interview I was able to take the categories and make new categories as I moved back and forth and compared
the next interview, thus creating a set of tentative categories. Each interview validated the previous one by finding relevant, reoccurring themes which continued to pop up. For example, one interview would be similar to the previous one, but with new information,
since I added more detailed questions, I adapted my approach as I performed the subsequent interviews. Learning through previous interviews I was able to enhance and reword the question with more clarity and add questions as I gained deeper awareness of the
issues. As I read through the first transcript, I placed codes in the margins and highlighted the corresponding codes to the previous interviews. After I synthesized and analyzed my data, I set up themes that corresponded to the codes.
Field Notes, Journal, Think Board and Recordings
I created a method to track the data and categorize it according to theme, linkage between the
participant’s responses using a manual system and electronic filing system to store the data. All data is kept in a secure, confidential and safe place where the identity of the participants and the data collected is unavailable to anyone but me.
I also kept a field journal for myself so I could re-examine what was said, done and recorded. What was their or my emotional state at the time of the interview? The field notes address preconceptions that may exist and how I might minimize their impact. After
the interview, I wrote in the field notes a quick summary of my findings, along with any bias that I felt.
I created a “Think Board” to organize my findings, data, themes,
thoughts and ideas. I used small sticky notes, and made random hand written comments on a large piece of paper.
Another technique used to house and store my ideas was to talk into
my recorder while walking. I would record a thought or recollection as it came to me, even if it was incoherent to anyone else. I would have it locked into my digital recorder and my thought would not be lost or fleeting. After approximately an hour or so,
I would have it transcribed. Similar to free-writing or a journal, the data was for my eyes only and for the sole purpose of this study.
truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
As the researcher, I viewed, photographed and documented the participant’s art work. The artist’s work will be in the following section.
RESEARCH PERSISTENCE WITHIN
Based on the design of this study, I have made claim and inference to achieve internal validity. My claim and inference
is established through three methods: data triangulation, member check, and peer review. In addition, I used the results of relevant data collected and literature reviewed; second is treatment and the observed outcome; and third, is the relationship between
historians and the artists. Their relationship established validity of the consequences the struggles and barriers women in art history and women artists today endured and endure, and its effect on the representation they receive.
The idea is that one can be more confident with a result if different methods lead to the same conclusion. If an investigator uses only one
method, the temptation is strong to believe in the findings. If an investigator uses two methods, the results may well clash. By using three methods to get at the answer to one question, the hope is that two of the three will produce similar answers, or if
three clashing answers are produced, the investigator knows that the question needs to be reframed, methods reconsidered, or both. (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005)
The information gathered
from various sources and the use of more than two methods of investigation of my research question, opposed to a single method study, enhances confidence and increases the validity of my findings.
To enhance credibility, a copy of the transcripts, along with a summary of the transcript, was emailed to each participant for their review and comments. In addition, my findings were presented
to the participants to see if they were “able to recognize their experiences in my interpretation and/or suggest some fine tuning to better capture their perspectives” (Merriam, 2002).
Throughout my study, I have shared my thoughts and reflections about my participants with members of my research team. Some of the members on my team are students in my doctoral cohort.
In addition to my research team, an individual person who has no personal connections with my study or its outcomes provided invaluable, unbiased comments on the mechanics and content of the study. Other people that reviewed my work included independent family
members. My primary, secondary and third advisors have reviewed my drafts, proposals, presentations and findings and have provided an evaluation of the study. The internet has provided me a new channel of peer review. In part, my research has been posted
on the World Wide Web allowing the opportunities for open comments, critique and evaluation. The principle of posting my work on the web site remains central to a peer review.
In this chapter I explain the plethora of data collection methods used. This study is presented from a qualitative research paradigm and uses
narrative inquiry as its main data collection method. I have given an overview of Feminist Theoretical Framework which is the theoretical frame underlying this study. A brief overview at the end of this chapter provided clarity of the data collection and analysis
method I used in conducting this study. I have discussed data triangulation, member check, and peer review.