Transformative learning is a theory of how we may shift our core values and beliefs in
permanent ways after (often) intense experiences that challenge our deeply held assumptions
(Mezirow,1997). As an artist and adult educator interested in empowering learners and fostering
social change, I was curious about if and how I had experienced transformative learning. From a
timeline re-creation of my teaching, I selected three critical, pivotal moments and studied them.
Each incident was deconstructed and examined using an art practice-based research methodology
to see how my experiences aligned with the theory. I translated the information gathered into
images, colour, texture and form. The artworks created responded to the social, cultural and
historical context by literal, descriptive, symbolic and metaphorical means (Weber, 2008). I
explored a felt tension between using language and images to express my findings. A semi-opaque
layer of text was superimposed onto the images, providing a narrative for each piece.
Grounded in the fluidity of perception - cognition - intuition and response, these words offered
poetic echoes of the events and understandings depicted in the repeating image-making cycle.
My journey of discovery resulted in a sustained and profound learning about transformation on a personal level.
Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New directions for adult and
continuing education, 1997(74), 5-12.
Weber, S. (2008). Visual images in research. In Knowles, J. G., & Cole, A. L. Handbook of the
arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues (pp. 42-
54). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781452226545
NOTE: The following body of art is on exhibition in the McDonald Library, St.Fx University, Antigonish Nova Scotia. Each work had an accompanying text found by clicking on the Info section of the slide on the upper left-hand corner.