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In Her Words and in Our Imaginations: The Making of a Documentary About Maxine Greene

Mon, April 16, 10:35am to 12:05pm, Millennium Broadway New York Times Square, Floor: Fourth Floor, Room 4.11


Objective/ Purpose:
I have worked as both a filmmaker and educator for over twenty inspiring years. This homage to Greene has been an opportunity to “access, interpret, reflect and imaginatively engage with the research” (Blenkinsop, 2009, p.116). Moreover, it has deepened my understanding of arts-based inquiry and will inform my practice with future generations of artist-filmmakers. This presentation will explore the art of praxis and how the very subject of our documentary helped shape our creative process.

Modes of Inquiry:
Central to my presentation is the concept of praxis in the arts. As understandings of praxis vary across disciplines, for me it has come to mean an ongoing reflective practice and understanding of the relationship between theory and action. Brown (2007) describes this process further by stating that, “praxis refers to the process by which a theory or lesson becomes part of a lived experience...ideas are tested and experienced in the real world, followed by an opportunity for reflective contemplation” (p.1162). While editing, the countless viewings of Greene’s interview certainly influenced my creative process profoundly. Her voice, mannerisms, passionate dialogue and references to periods in her life developed our “poetic mode” (Nichols, 2017), and informed aesthetic decisions for visual imagery and soundtrack. In particular, her commentary on social imagination and aesthetic experience impacted much of my editorial decision-making, giving meaning to the title of this presentation: ‘In her Words and in Our Imaginations’.

Theoretical Framework:
Arts-based inquiry has been a central framework through which to reflect by “allowing the combined interests of creative practice, teaching and research to generate an insightful dialogue” (Blenkinsop, 2009, p.116). For us, this has been an ongoing and iterative process of creative practice, teaching others and in turn researching to improve our practice.

Data sources and Materials:
Our documentary and corresponding editing journal are the artifacts and sources through which we can reflect, interpret and come to better understand our creative process. Indeed, any performative work must also address the eventual viewer. To date, we have shared this documentary in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. As we do so, collecting feedback and perspectives adds a further layer to our reflective process, informing future work in this area.

Results and/or substantiated conclusions or warrants for arguments/point of view:
Following extensive reflection and discussion, we have concluded that our documentary offers a creative interpretation, one of many possible interpretations, using the words of Maxine Greene and our imaginations. Not only have we shaped a version of Greene’s story, but she has left an indelible mark on our narratives. We acknowledge that our autobiographies are imbedded in the documentary; an unavoidable consequence of such subjective work.

Scholarly significance of the work:
This presentation builds on existing conversations about art-based inquiry, still considered a relatively recent context for educational researchers. Further, the process of praxis, connecting theory to practice, aims to shed light on how the very subjects of our documentaries can inform aesthetic decisions, the creative process and style of filmmaking.