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The video recordings of these enacted scenes from the chapters in Arts-based and Contemplative Practices in Research and Teaching: Honoring Presence by S. Walsh, B. Bickel, and C. Leggo (Eds.) were funded by Joe Norris’ Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant and reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, a division of Informa plc.Copyright © 2015. Videographers: Brad McDonald, Brock University, Dan Harris, Monash University, Joe Norris, Brock University. Book information can be found at


Heesoon Bai, Barbara Bickel, Lynn Fels, Vicki Kelly, Carl Leggo, Kerr Mesner, Sean Park, Shahar Rabi, Celeste Snowber, Susan Walsh

A Trailer – Edited by Barbara Bickel

A Trailer – Edited by Barbara Bickel

01a – Welcome – Vicki Kelly

01a – Welcome – Vicki Kelly

01b – Introduction – Carl, Susan & Barbara

We are a diverse group of ten artists, researchers, and teachers, grounded in an eclectic mix of worldviews and spiritual traditions, including Buddhist, Christian, Indigenous, and spiritual feminist. We work in and across a range of artistic disciplines such as dance, visual art, music, and performance-based genres such as performance ritual, performative autoethnography, and performative inquiry, as well as various genres of writing such as poetry and creative non-fiction. We explore in collaborative and individual ways, the contemplative and artistic practices that inform our ways of being, knowing, and not knowing in the world.

01c – Introduction – Bill Pinar

01c – Introduction – Bill Pinar

02 – Heesoon Bai & Susan Walsh

Writing Witness Consciousness We introduce writing witness consciousness, a sustained collaborative inquiry that is non linear and emergent and shaped by our commitment to one another. Our writing-witnessing process is grounded in Buddhist teachings; our primary intent is to create loving and compassionate spaces for the other to be-with-what-is. We draw on our meditation practices—our ongoing processes of witnessing and training our minds—to inform our practice of writing together. Like meditating alone, writing alone can be a form of witnessing. However, we find that writing together amplifies the witnessing capacity. We experiment with textual features in creating generous spaces-between.

03 – Vicki Kelly

To See, To Know, To Shape, To Show: The Path of an Indigenous Artist I have been learning to play the double Native flute, which is an instrument in which two flutes are played simultaneously, in harmony. I have journeyed and been nurtured by my lived experiences in various artistic practices. The arts offer us multiple pathways and places to explore the created world and ourselves. Today, some of us are on this pathway of trying to understand the profound literacy of the arts, for ultimately the arts are our pedagogues, our physicians, and our priests. The arts teach me to orient myself more fully within the world, to stand Indigenously within it.

04 – Celeste Snowber & Barbara Bickel

Companions with Mystery: Art, Spirit and the Ecstatic In this dialogic inquiry we explore connections between the practice of art making and contemplative practice in the context of a decade of collaborations between two artists who are also scholars and educators. This poetic, visceral and visual dialogue reveals the relationship to deep listening as a way of creating and being. We seek to create a collaborative pedagogy for teaching, researching, and art making, which is sustainable and whole, and has infinite surprise. This chapter calls forth the ability to engage a collaborative dance with visioning and listening in a complex and uncertain world.

05 – Kerr Mesner

Wrestling with the Angels of Ambiguity: Queer Paths in Contemplative Activism Through a playfulscript-within-a-script, this chapter investigates how a theologically informed queer performative autoethnography explores the liminalities, ambiguities, challenges and gifts that arise in the intersections of multiple academic identities and disciplines. Through performative autoethnography, I explore aspects of queer sexual and gender identities, as well as lived experiences of homophobia and transphobia. I also delve into the intersections of my ministerial, educational, and theological identities within the academy. This presentation is informed by scholarship in the areas of queer theory and queer theology, transgender and intersex theology, disability theory and theology, performative autoethnography, and theatre as social acupuncture.

06 – Lynn Fels

Woman Overboard: Pedagogical Moments of Performative Inquiry In this writing, I seek to understand the meaning of reciprocity as a gift offered by others, revealed in a gesture of an outstretched hand. Performative inquiry, which recognizes the arts as dwelling in research, attends to stop moments that call us to attention, like a child’s tug on a sleeve, moments of encounter that arrest, startle, or astonish us. A practice of inquiry and reflection, performative inquiry invites the researcher and participants to be present to life’s small gestures of performance that awaken us, offering new possible worlds to explore.

07 – Shahar Rabi & Sean Park

Improvising Vulnerability Through Freestyle Rap Inquiry As two friends who are both artists and new fathers, we explore the impulses of our vulnerability. Freestyle rap and ecstatically improvised expression provide mindful and playful means for witnessing the challenges of fatherhood, male privilege, and education. A thread is traced from African-American preachers to contemporary hip-hop culture, revealing the spiritual, cultural, and ethical dimensions of artistic self-inquiry. Emphasizing play, we provide guiding principles on facilitating creative atmospheres for taking whole-hearted refuge in the rhythm and tempo of lived experience. In our closing reflections on an improvised curriculum, we invoke Ted Aoki’s call for enchanted education.

08 – Carl Leggo

Loving Language: A Poet’s Vocation & Vision I live in the world artfully, poetically, spiritually, and contemplatively. Indeed, in my daily experience, I regard artful, poetic, spiritual, and contemplative living as synonymous, or at least as threads that are woven together in a sturdy braid. Contemplation is the action of attending thoughtfully, carefully, deeply, reflectively to something for a long time. Contemplation is akin to meditation, rumination, speculation, prayer, and lingering. Contemplation is the act of looking, of attending, of being open to wonder. As a poet I am always seeking to communicate, at least a little, of all I am attending to.

09 – Cast