Surrealism as a meaningful metaphor for shifts in occupational patterns
AbstractRelationship to Conference Theme: This paper will build upon knowledge and understanding from two separate disciplines: the discipline of occupational science and the discipline of art. The presentation will integrate dimensions from each discipline for a theoretical paper that provides participants the why, what and how of the conflation. The presenters, two experienced educators (one from primary education and one from post-secondary education), will combine their pedagogies for an artful educational experience. Background and Rationale: Occupational science has been an emerging discipline since the 1970’s and has blended with aspects of a wide variety of other disciplines such as anthropology, education, geography, and philosophy. While the profession of occupational therapy has its roots in the “arts and crafts” movement of the late 20th century (Bing, 1981), little to no attention to the discipline of or movements in art has been afforded in occupational science. Thus, the proposed theoretical paper will begin to integrate these two fields (occupational science and art) by focusing upon two movements or theoretical subsets, one within each discipline. These shall be (1) major shifts in patterns of occupations that naturally (typically) or un-naturally (atypically) occur across the lifespan (Zemke, 2003) and (2) the surrealism movement in art that evolved out of Dadaism and juxtaposed the unreal, the unusual, and the unexpected onto what is seen or observed (Klingsohr-Leroy, 2009). Statement of Intent: The intent of this paper is to present photographs of all the surrealism paintings housed at the Chicago Institute of Art and to describe, define and contextualize surrealism as an art movement. After so defining it, Surrealism will then be used as a metaphor (Lakoff & Johnson, 2003) for the human condition when major shifts in occupational patterns occur through either typical or atypical life events. Argument: Surrealism as a metaphor for the experience of the human condition during major shifts in occupational patterns can be a normalizing context (reference) for those undergoing such shifts. Most all lay people have at least heard the term surrealism and have some concept of its other worldly dimensions. Surrealism itself serves as a liberator of the unconscious from logic and reason (page 264, Hodge & Anson, 2004) and as a confrontation of the emotional (page 158, Hodge & Anson, 2004), which are argued as first steps in coming to terms with major changes in occupational patterns in order to build new occupations in new configurations. Yet, we have not taken the next step in occupational science to claim that major shifts in occupational patterns are metaphorically and literally surreal experiences in real life. By doing so, we may provide a context for individual comprehensive of and adaptation to major occupational shifts, and “remove” the “abnormality” that is associated with such changes, thus providing some level of comfort through understanding. By labeling such change as surreal, it provides a label that is somewhat familiar to one and all. In this manner, the weird and the unusual can be made to feel more typical providing an increased level of comfort. Conclusions: The artistic movement of surrealism provides a metaphor to enhance understanding of the human condition during major shifts in patterns of occupation. Importance to Occupational Science: Occupational science is poorly understood outside of the discipline. By bridging into other disciplines and creating a nexus with external concepts and disciplinary work, we contribute to the goal of interdisciplinarity and contributing to the level of understanding of occupational science.