My work in artistic inquiry became formalized when I developed A Concerto for 5 Stands as a method of presenting the data from a pilot study on fine arts department composition and leadership.  I discovered that as the piece developed through rehearsals I was actually analyzing the data and making connections I had not discovered during my more traditional data analysis.

Artistic Inquiry: A Concerto for 5 Stands

Research: Fine Arts Department component subjects and challenges faced by department leaders in secondary schools.

Supporting Documents: Leading the Band...and the Actors, Singers, Dancers, and Artists: Fine Arts Department Leadership by R. Andrew Strickland (2007)

Central Metaphor: An orchestra with its different components representative of a fine arts department.

Modality: Pantomime, set to music.  Originally designed and presented as a live performance.  This recording was staged specifically for filming.

Music: George Gershwin's "Concerto in F"


L3ADERS was developed out of interviews with two leaders in very different fields: pharmacy and ministry.  SImilarities and differences were explored between the leadership styles of these two men as well as between me in my role as a fine arts chairman.  Portions of the interview asked the subjects about insights they might have into fine arts leadership, a field outside of their normal purvey. The final visual arts piece was an attempt to display the data in an emotional and abstract form while retaining the inherent meaning.

Artistic Inquiry: L3ADERS

Research: Interviews with a retail pharmacist and Methodist minister.

Supporting Documents: Following the Leaders: Interviewing Leaders in Non-Arts Fields about Arts Leadership by R. Andrew Strickland (2008)

Central Metaphor: Three separate lines that converge into one form.

Modality: 2-dimensional visual art.

Medium: Charcoal, ink and watercolor on canvas board.

Dimensions: 11 x 9½ inches

Artist’s Statement: L3ADERS is based on my reactions to the interview process of an assignment in a Diversity and Reflective Practice course taken through Lesley University.  The art piece represents three leaders (the two interviewees and me) as a large oval, triangle, and rectangle grouped together.  The three shapes are each followed by a series of similar yet smaller shapes suggesting the people who are led by each of the leaders.  Surrounding all of the shapes is an intricate design, each shape area (ovals, triangles, rectangles) drawn with a single line and tinted a different color. This represents the complex lines of communication that occur in any leadership situation.  Ultimately the lines from each section meld together into one design in the upper right of the piece.  The lines finally connect in the upper right corner and the individual colors bleed into each other.  This suggests the different ideas that have come from each of the leaders to combine in a shared vision of the future.  It reflects my feeling that the three of us are on a similar journey and that each of us strengthened the other through our conversations.

Art Piece:

The pilot study that led to A Concerto for 5 Stands was exapnded into a full scale research study that ultimately became the thesis project of my Education Specialist degree.  For the equivalent of a thesis defense, I presented a 30-minute long artistic inquiry entitled Cirque du FA - The Circus of the Fine Arts.  This inquiry included a version of Concerto for 5 Stands as part of a larger circus theme.  The ringmaster of the circus provided the voice for me as an emergent leader.  The numerous performing acts in the circus attempted to preserve the authentic voices of the more than 150 fine arts teachers who were respondents in the research study.

Artistic Inquiry: Cirque du FA - The Circus of the Fine Arts

Research: Fine Arts Department component subjects, challenges faced by department leaders, and possible solutions to those problems.

Supporting Documents: A Better Ringmaster for the Circus: A Study of Fine Arts Department Leadership by R. Andrew Strickland (2008)

Central Metaphor: A "Cirque du Soleil" style circus with ringmaster as metaphor for a fine arts department and its chairperson.

Modalities: Theatre, pantomime, juggling, dance, and visual art.  Originally designed and presented as a live performance. 

Music: George Gershwin's "Concerto in F", various music from Cirque de Soleil's La Nouba

Video: The video is broken into four parts to keep within video posting restrictions.  The audio is only of average quality.  If you have difficulty in understanding the words, please download a copy of the supporting document above.  Included in that document is a complete transcript of the artistic inquiry in script format.

CIRQUE DU F.A. - The Circus of the Fine Arts
As part of a doctoral leadership course I was assigned the task of asking at least 8 people a simple question and reporting the results.  The question: What are the three words that first come to mind when you hear the word "leadership".  I found this simple assignment fascinating and set up the question as an online survey.  I received 124 responses.  The film and visual art pieces below are based on the words the respondents gave in reference to leadership.

Artistic Inquiry: Constructing Leadership

Research: Online survey asking respondents for three words that came to mind when they thought of "leadership".

Central Metaphor: A hard hat, tool box, and hammer representing the major coding categories identified in the research: qualities of a leader, tools for leaders, leadership icons, and challenges.  The work-related items together are a metaphor for the amount of work required to become a strong leader.

Modality: The creation of three visual art pieces filmed and presented in front of iconic images of leadership.  Concludes with a short filmed reflection.

Music: Justin Vasquez's "Fields"



Photos: Still images and close-ups of the 3 visual art pieces.