Emmet Sandberg


Arts: Research and Strategies


In his book The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant defines philosophy as “the systematic exploration of the unknown or little known.” Art practice could be defined in a similar manner by stating that art is the systematic exploration of the unknown, the little known, or the intimately known; essentially, the systematic exploration of everything. It is precisely this all-encompassing definition that causes art to be thought of as a wholly subjective and often times non-rational endeavor. Knowledge gained from scientific research is often understood identically by individuals due to the evidentiary nature of the research and reproducibility of results. In contrast, the reproducibility of art experience is more difficult to achieve. An Art experience is dependant on the accumulated experience of any individual or group of individuals engaged in it. How the individual/s react to the prompter (art experience) will be determined by the references and associations they make based upon a lifetime of accumulated experience. While an art experience may be consistent and result in similar references and associations, individuals will rarely, if ever, understand the knowledge gained in an identical manner. The link between artistic practice and scientific research is the spirit of exploration. Each area in the academy is responsible for directing their research or exploration in specific ways. Art practice is a speculative, experimental, and exploratory endeavor that sets up conditions compelling the viewer to cultivate critical thought; thinking in relation to alternative points of reference leading to previously undiscovered associations. These previously undiscovered, un-experienced, associations may generate knowledge of aspects of our reality that cannot be gained through other means. I will explore artists’ utilization of strategic devices, such as abstraction, that allow them to manipulate concepts and compel individuals to think critically and cultivate a method of art consumption that deals with experiences consistently.


Emmett is a practicing artist and a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh where I teach Foundations, Understanding Arts, and Art Education courses. He is also Director of the Gail Floether-Steinhilber Art Gallery located in the UW O’s Reeve Memorial Union. The gallery exhibits national and local artists and offers a presentation space for the research results of scholarly projects. He also facilitate art workshops that are developed for diverse groups with little or no art experience. Activities focus on decision-making and include a post-creation accounting of the individuals’ creative processes.