Patti Fraser


In Search of the Authentic’; the relationship between Digital Storytelling and the Arts, Health, and Seniors Project


The ‘Story’ as world maker. Viewing ‘story’ as the vehicle by which the ‘unknown’ becomes ‘known’ in an arts based community practice in Digital Storytelling with a community of seniors in the Arts Health and Seniors project.
This presentation seeks through the medium of written word and digital video to inquire into how the stories that stem from our most personal and unresolved relationship to the unknown can be the genesis by which we come to ‘know.’ As a resident artist/researcher in the Digital Storytelling Group at Silver Harbour Seniors Centre, a research site in the Arts Health and Seniors Project I have been working with seniors in digital storytelling for the past three years. Through this project the author has facilitated a peer inquiry into the relationship between creativity, health, and well being. A critical uncovering in this inquiry was how stories when worked with intention and skillfully rendered can become vehicles of knowing. As one of our participants remarked, through the ‘story’ of a lived experience that which was unknown becomes known. This community of seniors saw their health and well being directly affected by what stories they told. Uncovering the links between our lives and the ‘story’ of our lives can have a critical impact on the communities with whom we work as community engaged artists. When the ‘story’ is defined in Heideggerian terms as the ‘web of significance’, the story can begin to be seen as the ‘world’ maker. It is here in the terrain of the unfamiliar where the’ unknown’ story of a life waits to be skillfully or artfully told a different kind of knowing is constructed. Seen as a way of ‘world making’ the story and the work of the story maker become central in this uncovering of the most significant meaning of our lives. It is only through imaginative acts can we tell our life. This digital and spoken presentation will use this theoretical framing of ‘story’ to view the work of the artist and the community of seniors in a digital storytelling project.


Patti Fraser is a writer, video producer, and theatre practitioner whose community engaged has crossed a variety of mediums in her extensive career. Since 1986 she has worked in the popular theatre movement, crossing over to grass roots media development in the late 1990’s. A founder of the nationally recognized Summer Visions Film Institute for Youth, Vancouver, B.C. Canada, Patti has mentored hundreds of youth produced media projects. As a producer of documentaries, as a writer, and co-creator of popular theatre projects, and as a scholar, Patti’s work has been primarily devoted to working with ‘story’ and community primarily with youth and First Nations on diverse issues such as HIV/AIDS, racism & violence, health, and community activism. Currently she is a SSCHR funded doctoral student at the Centre for Cross Faculty Inquiry in Edcuation at the University of British Columbia. She is also a resident artist on a three-year research project that is looking into the relationship between health & creativity with marginalized seniors.