"Tell it like it is": an intrinisic case study of the art and oral history of Ezekiel Gibbs, contemporary Texas African-American folk artist, the early collection (1977-1987)
Burns, Cecile Greer
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"The life and work of a folk artist must be considered together because each deepens the understanding of the other" (Ferris, 1982, p. xix). Knowledge that art educators, art historians, and members of the artworld may disconnect the artist from his or her art and life is critical to the study of folk artists because that disconnection may result in misrepresentation, recontextualization, and denial of the artist's socio-cultural context. "This practice results in a need for artistic theories and interpretations to be reconnected to the art and life of the artist" (Krug, 1993, p. 24). This qualitative study focuses on an intrinsic case study approach viewed through a constructivist lens utilizing farm-related metaphors and analysis of data in an effort to generate understanding and create meaning as it relates to the connection of the art and life of Ezekiel Gibbs. Constructivism, as it relates to case study, is "belief that knowledge is made up largely of social interpretations rather than awareness of an external reality" (Stake, 1995, p. 170). My theoretical frame is based on the research of noted folk art scholar William Ferris and the case study research of Robert Stake. The presentation of Ezekiel Gibbs's art and oral history through in-depth analysis of observations, interviews, and recorded data will provide a unique example of the importance of "reconnection" of art and life for education research. Finally, a study of the life and art of Ezekiel Gibbs does not exist and should be presented. An extension of findings may lead to subsequent research.