Justin B. Makemson, PhD, assistant professor of art and the art education program coordinator at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, contributed this essay, part of a study of selective artistic self-identification.
Creative action is defined largely by the artist’s relationship to significant artistic others. Even the youngest of emerging artists are acutely aware of images and objects that surround their own creative explorations. To help address the social negotiations of artistic self-identification and specifically to parse the creative influence of significant artistic others, I developed a comparative visual research method for my dissertation work at Indiana University that combined the analysis of prompted Artstor Digital Library searches with an examination of student portfolios, narrative self-histories, and more traditional portraiture research methods. The purpose of my research was twofold: To better understand the events and circumstances associated with the development of students’ artistic identity and awareness/ownership of that identity; and to draw insight from the examination of a group of seven students that might be expanded to benefit the field of art education.