If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all. ~ Michelangelo Buonarroti
Today is International Women’s Day and as a woman trying to balance parenting, working, PhD and being a person, I have recently felt overwhelmed. I don’t believe in men or women ‘having it all’ but I do want us all to have the freedom and power to make our own choices. Sometimes, though, the choices we make can feel like difficult paths to walk, especially when something surprising tips us off balance and throws our delicate ecosystem of relationships, roles and responsibilities out of its precarious equilibrium.
On top of the usual teaching, parenting and life stuff, my work at school is currently focused on school-wide implementation of a strategic project focused around teacher growth. My PhD is centred around pulling 300 references, reams of data and over 200 pages of words into a coherent thesis, in time to meet my own personal deadline for submission (of course, this deadline is four months ahead of the official deadline required by the university.) Along the way, I am trying to keep the magic, spark and creativity in my thesis. It is a bit weird, a bit whacky, and a lot me. Part of me is thrilled that I have been able to craft a research project and document which so authentically aligns with my own (lovably weird) identity, and part of me is anxious about the work still ahead. I need to ensure it resonates with what I value in research while also being acceptable (even significant?) in the world of academia.
So, much of what I am presently in the midst of working on requires daily commitment, laser-like focus and hard grafting work. Perhaps this, combined with piles of marking and lesson preparation, has contributed to me feeling drawn to the creative and the crazy. I have been seeking out connections with things which capture my imagination and buoy me with their colour and magic.
As a follow-up, then, to my experience of gigantic marionettes walking the streets and this post on my friends’ amazing interactive sculpture-on-the-beach, here are some more shots from this year’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition.
Perhaps you will also find solace and escape in the wonder-full, the unexpected and the strangely beautiful. How is a PhD like a sculpture? These sculptures, while capturing imagination, are also the outcome of commitment, dogged determination and hard, systematic work.
Loved your writing, thank you for sharing. I’m not so sure I appreciate the giant, scared faced, crawling baby though. But wonderful work!
Mmm, yes, the giant babies with the microchip/barcode faces are by Czech artist David Cĕrny. Certainly thought-provoking, and out of place on the beach!
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Love the idea of a PhD (or any research really) as a sculpture. You chip away at it and then – somehow, someway – this creation emerges that may not look like what you initially planned but is beautiful anyway for all the hard work it represents.
Absolutely, Kathy! My PhD research is certainly the product of my creative process and the materials from which it is being forged. It is emerging and evolving in artistic and scientific ways.
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