The artist as researcher : a narrative case study of Lead Pencil Studio



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This thesis is a narrative case study that examined the studio art practice of Lead Pencil Studio, a Seattle-based artist collaborative that explore our spatial relationships with architecture through site-specific installations. The case study specifically focused on the work of Daniel Mihalyo and Annie Han (Lead Pencil Studio) while they were at the Visual Arts Center in The University of Texas at Austin for a spring 2013 artist-in-residence program.

The research focused specifically on the artists’ day-to-day process, examining the thoughts and actions that went into creating their work, Diffuse Reflection Lab, a two-story plywood structure that examined reflection’s effect on architecture through various vignettes. Through concentrated observations of the Lead Pencil Studio’s work and three semi-structured interviews, this thesis examined how traditional research practices are integrated into the studio art process. By examining the art/research relationship the author also situates this work in the field of practice-based research.

While this work specifically focused on the research conducted by a pair of professional artists, it also extends to a broader argument about the role of research in art lessons. Since this thesis is based in art education, it connects the themes observed in the artists’ studio practice to interdisciplinary learning and arts integration. The author ultimately argues that Lead Pencil Studio’s art/research practice can be used in the classroom as an example of transdisciplinary learning and that it models a rigorous approach to creativity within other disciplines.