What can an image tell? Challenges and benefits of using visual art as a research method to voice lived experiences of students and teachers

Authors

  • Eva Alerby Professor of Education, Luleå University of Technology, Department of Arts, Communication and Education, 97187 Luleå, Sweden
  • Ulrika Bergmark Assistant Professor of Education, Luleå University of Technology, Department of Arts, Communication and Education, 97187 Luleå, Sweden

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18533/journal.v1i1.9

Keywords:

lived experinces, visual art, data analysis, phenomenology of the life-world, oral and written words, all-inclusive understanding

Abstract

As humans, we have the ability to use many forms of “language” to express our self and our experiences, where visual art, an image, is one. Accordingly, experiences can be described in many different ways. In this paper we describe the challenges and benefits of using visual art as a research method to voice lived experiences of students and teachers based on life-world phenomenology. We give three examples of the analysis of visual art works, such as photographs, lino prints, and drawings made by students and teachers, as a way to express their lived experiences of different phenomena. The conclusion is that there are limits with using visual art as the sole source of empirical data. We argue that such data has to be accompanied by oral or written comments to enhance credibility and rigor. A life-world phenomenological analysis of visual art and subsequent comments emphasizes openness and humility to participants’ experiences as well as an all-inclusive understanding of a phenomenon.

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