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Research - Dissertation Abstract

My dissertation argues that visual artists who live and work on the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula, in Ontario, Canada, are co-creating artworks with non-humans, which is evidence of more-than-human world-making. Such co-creative experiences are the result of, and catalysts for the kinds of enchantment our human worlds need to form meaningful and holistic connections with non-humans, effectively creating a more inclusive pluriverse. After reviewing interdisciplinary literature in posthuman studies, creative geography, arts-based practices, environmental humanities, Indigenous knowledges, and political ontology, I designed my research to include a combination of ethnography, autoethnography and research-creation methodologies to investigate fourteen visual artists, plus myself, as a culture sharing group. Evidence was collected through semi-structured interviews, studio visits, visual analyses of artworks, and reflections on my own artistic practice and experimental research methods with dolostone in St. Jean Point Nature Preserve on the peninsula. Using the pluriverse as a critical framework of entanglement and heterogeneous worlding practices inclusive of humans and non-humans, I sought answers to my research questions. I found that contemporary visual culture on the peninsula is not strictly a human construct, but it is a form of co-creation, an artistic materialization of a relationship between a human and non-human. In the acts of co-creation with non-humans, the artists and I experienced forms of enchantment. Viewers of the finished artworks experience enchantment too, which could become a means to a renewed worldview that embraces the wellbeing of non-humans over human exceptionalism. My own autoethnographic reflections and research-creation practice validated these findings, bringing visual form to the geopolitical concept of the pluriverse, which I presented as an exhibition in July 2023. This contribution to Canadian creative geography includes all of the ethnographic and autoethnographic findings, inclusive of the research-creation experience, to a tell a new story about the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula.

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