Goddard College Interdisciplinary Arts Conference

“Considering Interdisciplinary Practice”

Presented at Goddard College: “Making Meaning and Context” Gathering

by Jackie Hayes  - © 2011

As I wonder how interdisciplinary artists contribute to transforming the consciousness and social conditions in the world, it is critical to understand that I am talking about a paradigm shift in how we understand art — and the artist — a shift from consumption-based practices of “well-made works centered in the mastery of a discipline existing in service of a finished product” to an understanding of interdisciplinary practice as centered in processes and methodologies of inquiry that create intersticial space. It is to understand art practice as a process of research — research conducted by engaging with and reflecting upon materials, making, and being.  A rigorous practice that can re-frame our work and our role as artists. And I am convinced WE must work to re-language, re-frame and stay intentional in leading that paradigm shift.


Lutz and Neis write in their publication Making and Moving Knowledge, “If the creation of new knowledge is a kind of discovery, the spaces between disciplines and cultures are rich spaces for exploration because by definition, they are neglected spaces. These intellectual “wild spaces” beyond the cultivated gardens of disciplinary knowledge, where the fisher meets the forest, the scholar meets the storyteller, and the paleontologist, the philosopher, are in today’s world very productive spaces for the discovery of knowledge and the cultivation of wisdom.”1

I am talking about situating between disciplines but I am also asking about being in that space in a different way — I am suggesting that as we sit between disciplines, between methodologies, we also orient our way of being differently. Interdisciplinary practice is more than combined different traditions — it is more than adding up multiple media. It is a practice of moving in an on-going space of wondering, being, and acting that can not be captured only through the scientific method, through math, or through traditional measurements of success and value.


1.  Lutz, John Sutton and Barbara Neis, Eds. Making and Moving Knowledge: Interdisciplinary and Community-based Research in a World on the Edge, McGill-Queen’s University Press: Montreal & Kingston, c. 2008, p. 11.