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Visual A r t s Research

Volume 35, N u m b e r 2

W i n t e r 2009

Unraveling a Meaningful Mentor

Mary

Relationship:AVisual Culture

Arizona State University

Stokrocki

Dialogue Between an Art Education


Professor and Her Former Student

T h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n f e a t u r e s a p p r o x i m a t e l y i o % o f m y 23-year d i a l o g u e w i t h a
former student, Julie D i S i e n a from Cleveland State Universitya dialogue that
o c c u r r e d m o s t l y t h r o u g h p o s t c a r d s a n d g r e e t i n g c a r d s . W h e n I first m e t her, J u
lie's e n t h u s i a s m for l e a r n i n g a b o u t m u l t i c u l t u r a l e d u c a t i o n a n d different t y p e s
o f p e o p l e s t r u c k m e a s u n u s u a l . S i m i l a r l y i n t e r e s t e d in t h e s a m e t h i n g s , w e h a v e
m a i n t a i n e d a l o n g - d i s t a n c e c o n v e r s a t i o n o v e r 2 d e c a d e s . I n 2006, J u l i e m a i l e d m e
a p a c k a g e o f p h o t o c o p i e d c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s t h a t I h a d s e n t h e r over t h e y e a r s . T h i s
act t o u c h e d m y h e a r t . T o t h i n k t h a t a f o r m e r s t u d e n t c a r e d e n o u g h t o s a v e this
correspondence shows the power o f educational mentorship a n d the sustaining,
reciprocal nature o f the m e n t o r i n g relationship. Julie taught m e m a n y things, as
well. M a n y e d u c a t o r s k e e p in t o u c h w i t h f o r m e r s t u d e n t s , b u t n o t m a n y e d u c a t o r s
t u r n t h e s e r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n t o r e s e a r c h . S o this e x p e r i m e n t is a n a d v e n t u r e for u s
a n d for t h e W o m e n ' s C a u c u s . How and why do meaningful

mentorships

grow?

W h a t Is a M e n t o r ?
P e o p l e c o n c e i v e o f m e n t o r s as f a m i l y m e m b e r s , favorite t e a c h e r s , i n s i g h t f u l
f r i e n d s , p e o p l e w i t h w h o m t h e y w o r k e d , a n d p e o p l e t h e y a d m i r e . M e n t o r i n g of
t e n is a " c o m m i t m e n t t o r e c o g n i z e , e n c o u r a g e , a n d c e l e b r a t e , w h i c h m a k e s e a c h
o f u s u n i q u e " ( E m p e y , 2004). A m e n t o r is e s s e n t i a l for a c h i e v i n g s u c c e s s in life.
In t h e w o r l d o f b u s i n e s s , t h e r i g h t a d v i c e a t t h e r i g h t t i m e c a n a c h i e v e w o n d e r s .
M e n t o r s are t h e k e e p e r s o f i m p o r t a n t t r a d i t i o n s a n d l i f e - s h a p i n g s t o r i e s : T h e y p a s s
o n t h e k n o w l e d g e t h a t w o u l d b e difficult for a b e g i n n e r t o learn o n h i s o w n , a n d

2009 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

Visual A r t s Research W i n t e r 2009

t e a c h all t h a t is n e e d e d t o k n o w t o a c h i e v e s u c c e s s in the c h o s e n fields. S o c r a t e s ,


a c l a s s i c m e n t o r , d e s c r i b e d h i m s e l f a s "a m i d - w i f e a s s i s t i n g t h e l a b o u r o f t h e m i n d
in b r i n g i n g k n o w l e d g e a n d w i s d o m t o b i r t h " ( K a p u r , 1997). A m e n t o r is a t r e a s u r e
a n d o n e heart s p e a k i n g to another.
S t u d i e s o f m e n t o r i n g h a v e e x a m i n e d a d v i s i n g p r o g r a m s for n o v i c e t e a c h
ers ( V i n h , 2003; Z i m m e r m a n , 1994), r e g e n e r a t i o n o f t e a c h i n g ( S z u m l a s , n . d . ) ,
a n d l i f e l o n g l e a r n i n g a n d b r i d g i n g t h e g e n e r a t i o n g a p ( A b b o t t , 2006), a n d h a v e
e v o l v e d i n t o a d i s t i n c t a r e a o f p r o f e s s i o n a l s t u d y in e d u c a t i o n , a s e v i d e n c e d b y
t h e j o u r n a l Mentoring

& Tutoring: Partnership

in Learning.

Art education studies

of m e n t o r i n g have included documentaries a b o u t f a m o u s university m a l e teach


ers s u c h a s V i c t o r L o w e n f e l d ( S a u n d e r s , 2003), f e m a l e t e a c h e r s w h o h a v e m a d e a
d i f f e r e n c e ( L i n d s e y , 2001), a n d e v e n f a m i l y m e n t o r s ( S t o k r o c k i , 2001b). C o l l i n s
a n d S a n d e l l (1984) w r o t e a b o u t t h e m e n t o r s h i p r e l a t i o n s h i p s t h a t e m e r g e in v i s u a l
a n d w r i t t e n d i a l o g u e s a m o n g w o m e n in s p e c i a l e x h i b i t i o n s in w h i c h w o m e n w e r e
" b r i n g i n g their ' p r i v a t e ' s p h e r e i n t o l i g h t " ( p . 63). C o l l i n s a n d S a n d e l l o b s e r v e d
t h e n e e d for d o c u m e n t i n g f e m a l e r o l e m o d e l s a n d s u p p o r t s y s t e m s o f all t y p e s .
N u m e r o u s o t h e r s t u d i e s h a v e f e a t u r e d s i m u l t a n e o u s m e n t o r i n g , b u t few h a v e
e n g a g e d a longitudinal a p p r o a c h that explores m e n t o r i n g relationships that occur
t h r o u g h s o m e k i n d o f c o n t i n u o u s d i a l o g u e over t i m e .

Dialogous M e t h o d o l o g y and Visual Culture Study


D i a l o g o u s r e s e a r c h , e s p e c i a l l y in e t h n o g r a p h y a n d s e m i o t i c s , e v o l v e s a s i n t e r s u b j e c t i v e c o m m u n i c a t i o n ( B a s t o s & R o s s , 2004). T h e s h a r e d w o r l d s t h a t g r o w f r o m
d i a l o g u e s are in d y n a m i c c h a n g e a n d r e c r e a t i o n a s p e o p l e r e n e g o t i a t e m e a n i n g s
( T e d l o c k & M a n n h e i m , 1995, p . 3). T e d l o c k a n d M a n n h e i m o b s e r v e t h a t , w h e r e a s
m a l e researchers tend to use an authoritative a n d reductive m o n o l o g u e , while
f e m a l e r e s e a r c h e r s m a y u s e a m u l t i v o c a l e x p a n s i v e w r i t i n g s t y l e ( p . 22). J u l i a a n d
m y reflections f e a t u r e a c o n v e r s a t i o n t h a t b e g a n w i t h e - m a i l s a b o u t o u r d i a l o g o u s
r e l a t i o n s h i p a n d c u l m i n a t e d in a p h o n e c o n v e r s a t i o n s a r o u n d t h e m e a n i n g s o f
p o s t c a r d s a n d g r e e t i n g c a r d s t h a t a r e p a r t o f o u r o w n v i s u a l c u l t u r e . U s i n g , in p a r t ,
a visual culture s t u d y a p p r o a c h , Julia a n d 1 chose specific i m a g e s a n d p r o c e e d e d to
d i s c u s s t h e m c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y ; t h a t i s , in t h e t i m e o r d e r in w h i c h t h e y w e r e o r i g i
nally s h a r e d o v e r t h e y e a r s . E a c h e n t r y c o n s i s t s o f p a r t s o f m y c o r r e s p o n d e n c e , f o l
l o w e d b y Julie's c o m m e n t s , a n d then e n d s with m y a n d / o r Julie's reflections o n the
m e a n i n g s o f t h e i m a g e s a s a v i s u a l c u l t u r e s t u d y in p r o c e s s .
V i s u a l c u l t u r e is a n e v e r - e x p a n d i n g field t h a t i n c o r p o r a t e s all v i s u a l f o r m s .
K e r r y F r e e d m a n (2003) d e f i n e s v i s u a l c u l t u r e a s "all t h a t is h u m a n l y f o r m e d
a n d s e n s e d t h r o u g h v i s i o n or v i s u a l i z a t i o n a n d s h a p e s the w a y w e live o u r lives"
( p . 1 ) . W h e t h e r fine, f o l k , p o p u l a r , o r g r a p h i c a r t s , p o s t c a r d s , g r e e t i n g c a r d s , o r

M a r y Stokrocki A V i s u a l C u l t u r e Dialogue

other forms o f c o m m e r c i a l arts, visual i m a g e s carry m e a n i n g s that g o b e y o n d


the representations a n d m e r e nostalgia. T h e m e a n i n g s o f these h u m b l e , everyday
visual experiences t r a n s c e n d the o r d i n a r y a n d reach the existential a n d spiritual
r e a l m s o f e x p e r i e n c e . A g o a l o f v i s u a l c u l t u r e s t u d y is reflexivity,

a process o f

m a k i n g o n e s e l f - a w a r e o f o n e ' s i m m e r s i o n in e v e r y d a y a n d p o p u l a r c u l t u r e t o
e x a m i n e one's o w n p o s i t i o n ( D u n c u m & Bracey, 2001). A s a self-reflexive e n
d e a v o r , t h i s s t u d y s e e k s t o reveal a s p e c t s o f o u r r e l a t i o n s h i p t h a t m a y b e o f i n t e r
est t o o t h e r s i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e c h a r a c t e r a n d v a l u e o f m e n t o r i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s .

T h e R o o t s of o u r Relationship: O u r C o r r e s p o n d e n c e
I m o v e d to A r i z o n a S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y f r o m O h i o in t h e s u m m e r o f 1990 w h e n m y
h u s b a n d h a d an o p p o r t u n i t y to teach at C a s e Western Reserve, near Phoenix,
A r i z o n a . S o J u l i e D i S i e n a , a n e l e m e n t a r y a r t t e a c h e r friend a n d a f o r m e r s t u d e n t ,
offered to a c c o m p a n y m e o n a 5 - d a y e x c u r s i o n , c r o s s - c o u n t r y f r o m O h i o t o A r i
z o n a . T h e t r i p w a s a 2 - w e e k v a c a t i o n for her b e f o r e s h e s t a r t e d t e a c h i n g in t h e fall.
T h e scenery a l o n g the trip was a m a z i n g a n d unforgettable. D u e to limited space,
w e o p e n w i t h a m e m o r y o f J u l i e ' s visit t o P h o e n i x t h e f o l l o w i n g year. T h e r e m a i n
d e r o f the p a s s a g e s s h a r e d h e r e tell a s t o r y o f o u r u n f o l d i n g f r i e n d s h i p a r o u n d
c o m m o n interests.

1991:

Postcard of Camelback

Mountain

M A R Y : R e m e m b e r w h e n w e saw this site a n d how i m p r e s s e d we were with its size a n d


presence! T h e m o u n t a i n stands as a b e a c o n in the m i d d l e o f the valley. I m i s s C l e v e
l a n d a n d y o u . You art teachers were m y best friends w h e n I was the lonely art e d u
cator. H e l l o to your m o m & d a d .
J U L I E : I r e m e m b e r e d s e e i n g the m o u n t a i n w h e n I drove o u t w i t h y o u a n d treasured the
m e m o r y . It is m o r e s p e c t a c u l a r at night with all the lights. M a r y d o y o u r e m e m b e r
seeing the rain in the d i s t a n c e a n d then that awful s t o r m ?

i 991: Postcard ofWhite House Ruins, Canyon de Chetty National

Monument,Arizona

M A R Y : This is what you m i s s e d w h e n you wouldn't c o m e d o w n into the c a n y o n with us.


There is a safer trail, where all the tourists walk. . . . S c h o o l is hectic. I teach M o n d a y
& T u e s d a y all day a n d evening t o o p r e t t y tired. Christine T h o m p s o n has our papers
for the early c h i l d h o o d publication. S h e just sent t h e m out for review. B e patient. S h e
has p h o t o s o f m i n e t o o . H e l l o to M o m a n d D a d D i S i e n a ! G o o d luck in school.
J U L I E : You sent the card o f what I m i s s e d s e e i n g w h e n I visited b e c a u s e I w a s afraid
o f heights a n d w o u l d n o t g o d o w n in the c a n y o n o n foot with the N a v a j o g u i d e .
W h i l e you h i k e d d o w n the trail, I w a l k e d a l o n g the c a n y o n rim a n d r e m e m b e r e d
the lovely smell o f j u n i p e r berries. This was sacred land. I r e m e m b e r e d the q u i e t a n d
gentle d e m e a n o r o f the N a v a j o . T h i s visit inspired m e to write a multicultural s t o r y

Visual A r t s Research W i n t e r 2009

that y o u h e l p e d m e w i t h a n d e d i t e d . Later, I presented it at the U S S E A [ U n i t e d


States S o c i e t y for E d u c a t i o n t h r o u g h A r t ] conference a n d it w a s p u b l i s h e d .
M A R Y : T h i s c a r d is a b o u t e x p l o r i n g the i m m e n s e e n v i r o n m e n t a l aesthetics o f the red
rock c a n y o n o n the N a v a j o R e s e r v a t i o n that we traveled to. This place inspired sev
eral o f m y e t h n o g r a p h i c studies, especially m y [ M a n u e l B a r k a n ] a w a r d - w i n n i n g case
study, "A S c h o o l D a y in the Life o f a Y o u n g N a v a j o G i r l " [ S t o k r o c k i , 1995]. It w a s
great to have a n e l e m e n t a r y art teacher a l o n g for a d d i t i o n a l reflections.
J U L I E : T h e children at the school s e e m e d q u i e t b u t willing to talk w h e n they were
a s k e d . I was i m p r e s s e d b y the w o r k I saw. T h e y were p r o u d o f it, especially t h o s e I
p h o t o g r a p h e d . T h e y h a d a wonderful r a p p o r t with their teacher. I was a m a z e d at
h o w " i g n o r a n t " I w a s . I d i d n o t k n o w that there were so m a n y I n d i a n s alive a n d
forced on to s u c h large barren l a n d . I w a s i m m e d i a t e l y aware that it w a s a culture o f
its o w n w i t h i n the U n i t e d States. S o m e places h a d n o i n d o o r p l u m b i n g , w h i c h w a s
u n b e l i e v a b l e to m e .

/ 9 9 2 : Postcard of T h e M e l l e r D r a m m e r

(1933)

M A R Y : H o p e y o u r students like the D i s n e y card o f M i c k e y M o u s e . I taught a b o u t the his


tory o f a n i m a t i o n ever since I w a s a y o u n g teacher. Recently, I discovered that the car
t o o n was a s p o o f o n the m e l o d r a m a , Uncle Tom's Cabin. T h e weekend o f April 1011,
I'll b e o n the N a v a j o Reservation, unless y o u can c o m e visit here before April 9. O n
Easter S u n d a y I fly o u t the A E R A [American E d u c a t i o n a l Research Association] c o n
ference in S a n Francisco for the first time. In between, I have to correct final p a p e r s ,
because the N A E A [National A r t E d u c a t i o n Association] is the week after that confer
ence. It's a hectic t i m e . Please c o m e visit. P.S. I w o n the M a r y R o u s e Award!
J U L I E : I t h o u g h t h o w y o u liked t e a c h i n g a b o u t p o p u l a r culture m o r e than I d i d . I w a s
g l a d to hear that y o u w o n the W o m e n ' s C a u c u s M a r y R o u s e A w a r d . I k n o w s h e
always h e l p e d the w o m e n . I still r e m e m b e r h o w she told m e there is "a g o o d o l d
boy's c l u b , " b u t w o m e n will have to establish their o w n n e t w o r k a n d pull each other
u p . I also k n o w she w o r k e d hard o n her research. [I was always l o o k i n g for t e a c h i n g
devices to inspire Julie's e l e m e n t a r y teaching. I sent her a t i m e line o f the " H i s t o r y
o f A n i m a t i o n " from Time-Life that I still use t o d a y a n d e x t e n d e d it to the history o f
a n i m e . I w a s s u r p r i s e d to find that J u l i e r e m e m b e r e d the M c F e e Award.]

/ 9 9 2 : Filippino LippiPostcard
and

of The H o l y F a m i l y w i t h J o h n t h e B a p t i s t

S t , M a r g a r e t (ca. 1495)

M A R Y : M y C h r i s t m a s trip b a c k to N e w York to see m y family w a s e m o t i o n a l l y d r a i n


ing. I really m i s s t h e m . K e e p u p the g o o d cheer. M a y b e the levy will p a s s the s e c o n d
t i m e . D o n ' t give up! Your artwork is b e c o m i n g sensational. G o o d for y o u p e r s e
verance. You are a great teacher. H a v e s o m e o n e v i d e o t a p e y o u ! M y trip last w e e k u p
to the reservation t o o k all d a y to get h o m e a l o n g , treacherous s n o w s t o r m . G o d
bless y o u a n d y o u r family. S h o w the c a r d to y o u r s t u d e n t s .
J U L I E : This p a i n t i n g is a favorite o f m i n e . I love the delicate airiness o f the fabric a n d its
trim o n the figures. I h a d written M a r y o f o u r school levy p r o b l e m s . M a r y s p o k e o f

M a r y Stokrocki A V i s u a l C u l t u r e Dialogue |

her

reservation trip. I l i k e d it a n d shared it w i t h m y brother. I d i d n o t share it w i t h t h e

c h i l d r e n , p r o b a b l y because s o m e o f m y students w e r e m e m b e r s o f J e h o v a h W i t n e s s .

/ 993: Postcard of C a n y o n C o u n t r y by Jean Adams

(I984)

M A R Y : T h e cartoon painting of a Navajo family riding through the canyon c o m m e m o


rated m y w a l k s t h r o u g h t h e C a n y o n d e C h e l l y . I h o p e d t h a t y o u w o u l d share it
w i t h h e r s t u d e n t s . T h e I n S E A [ I n t e r n a t i o n a l S o c i e t y for E d u c a t i o n t h r o u g h A r t ]
C o n f e r e n c e i n M o n t r e a l w a s v e r y special n o d o u b t . I a m g l a d to see t h a t y o u m e t so
m a n y p e o p l e . T h e i n t e r n a t i o n a l c o n n e c t i o n is v e r y i m p o r t a n t . W e h a d a v e r y n i c e
T h a n k s g i v i n g w i t h t h e pussycats, w h o ate t o o m u c h turkey. T h e w e a t h e r w a s lovely.
B i l l [ m y h u s b a n d ] h a d t h e fireplace r o a r i n g at n i g h t . A s I get o l d e r these s i m p l e
t i m e s are m e m o r a b l e .

1994: Postcard of The Superstition Mountains, Arizona


M A R Y : T h i s is m y p a i n t i n g o f a n A r i z o n a n desert l a n d s c a p e t h a t I p a i n t e d i n h i g h
s c h o o l . I c o p i e d it f r o m a National

Geographic p h o t o g r a p h . I d i d n ' t e v e n k n o w t h e

n a m e o f t h e m o u n t a i n i n the b a c k g r o u n d . Years later w h e n w e m o v e d h e r e t o P h o e


n i x , I l e a r n e d t h a t this w a s T h e S u p e r s t i t i o n M o u n t a i n s , a n d w e m o v e d t o t h e f o o t
hills o f this b e a u t i f u l p l a c e . M y father said t h a t I w a s c o n c e i v e d o u t h e r e d u r i n g t h e
war

a n d s o m e a n c i e n t spirit l u r e d m e b a c k here. Y o u s h o u l d c o m e visit u s .

J U L I E : I r e m e m b e r e d the lovely P h o e n i x sunset. T h e sky was m o r e expansive than


i n C l e v e l a n d , c r e a t i n g s p e c t a c u l a r c o l o r e d vistas i n t h e e v e n i n g . L o v e l y q u o t e i n
s i d e : " M a y y o u h a v e . . . . T h e S p i r i t o f C h r i s t m a s w h i c h is P e a c e ; t h e G l a d n e s s o f
C h r i s t m a s w h i c h is H o p e , a n d t h e H e a r t o f C h r i s t m a s w h i c h is L o v e . "

/ 994: Postcard of Storyteller

Dolls

M A R Y : H o p e that y o u l i k e t h e i m a g e o f t h e storyteller pottery, c o m m e m o r a t i n g m y r e


search i n e t h n o g r a p h i c s t o r y t e l l i n g [ S t o k r o c k i , 1995]. M o s t e l e m e n t a r y teachers l o v e
this i m a g e . T h e Y o u t h A r t M o n t h v i d e o w a s w o n d e r f u l ! Y o u l o o k g o o d a n d s o l d t h e
p r o g r a m . C o n g r a t u l a t i o n s ! G o o d l u c k at t h e m i d d l e s c h o o l . I k n o w t h a t y o u r h e a r t
is w i t h t h e little o n e s .
J U L I E : I a l w a y s l o v e d this i m a g e . T h e faces o f t h e dolls often h a v e their m o u t h s h u n g
o p e n . L o o k at children's faces w h e n y o u h a v e t h e m interested i n a story. T h e i r ex
pression is t h e s a m e . I like this i m a g e b e c a u s e t h e c h i l d r e n l o v e to h e a r stories.
M A R Y : I love t h e s t o r y d o l l s t o o w e are k i d s at h e a r t a n d l o v e g o o d stories. W e b o t h
m a d e p a p e r dolls as k i d s . I can't b e l i e v e t h a t it's 20 years s i n c e I t a u g h t i n t h e p u b l i c
s c h o o l s . M a y b e that's w h y I a m so f o n d o f n a r r a t i v e research.

/ 9 9 5 : Postcard of Mount Arahat,Agri, Turkey; K i l i m , Diyarbakir


M A R Y : G r e e t i n g s f r o m M o u n t A r a h a t , in E a s t e r n T u r k e y . W e w e r e a c c o m p a n i e d b y a
m i l i t a r y escort to this p l a c e , a n d visited t h e caravanserai

[palace] w h e r e I b o u g h t

m y b e a u t i f u l kilim [flat w o v e n ] r u g . T h e c a r p e t f e a t u r e d t h e story o f Noah's Ark

that

141

I Visual A r t s Research W i n t e r 2009

was f o u n d nearby. M y T u r k i s h c o l l e a g u e O l c a y K i r i s o g l u a n d I u s e d the carpets to


i n t r o d u c e art criticism i n t o the higher e d u c a t i o n c u r r i c u l u m . W e p u b l i s h e d T u r k
ish a d o l e s c e n t s ' reactions [ S t o k r o c k i & K i r i s o g l u , 1999] a n d children's cross-cultural
responses [ S t o k r o c k i , 2001a] to t h e m . Later, I discovered that the M o u n t a i n is near
the city o f V a n in Turkey.

2000: Postcard of M a s k s o f Illusion, Acrylic Painting (2004)


MARY:

G o to m y W e b site [ S t o k r o c k i ,

2007] a n d c h o o s e o n e o f m y p a i n t i n g s that y o u

like the best a n d tell m e why.


J U L I E : I loved the three cats (Masks of Illusion)

the m o s t . I like the c o l o r in all o f t h e m .

T h e pictures are all a n i m a t e d , spirited ( n o t in the c a r t o o n sense b u t in their s e n s e o f


m o v e m e n t b e h i n d the colors a n d i m a g e s ) . It r e m i n d s m e o f F r a n z M a r c a n d m o s t
recently o f a lecture I a t t e n d e d o n C h a r l e s Burchfield. This S a l e m , O h i o , artist takes
i m a g e s from nature, b u t is m o r e c o m m i t t e d to the spirit o f it t h a n exact rendition.

2002: Postcard of Horsehair

Baskets

M A R Y : P a p a g o a n d P i m a weavers c o i l e d these tiny b a s k e t s from horsehair. I f y o u like


these art f o r m s , w h y n o t take a n a n t h r o p o l o g y c o u r s e ?
J U L I E : T h e d e s i g n s are interesting. I like the tiny m a n a n d horse figures all circling
a r o u n d the center. H a r d to believe that they are m a d e o f hair!

2003: Postcard ofJulie's

Students'Artworks

J U L I E : I sent y o u p h o t o s o f m y children's art. S o m e were unsuccessful e x a m p l e s d u e to


lack o f t i m e . W e h a d j u s t seen each other in M o n t r e a l at the I n S E A C o n f e r e n c e . It
was w o n d e r f u l t o a t t e n d m y first international a n e d u c a t i o n c o n g r e s s .
M A R Y : I love the p h o t o s o f y o u r tiny tots, especially the p h o t o o f two little girls m o d e l
i n g clay a n d w e a r i n g B e t t y B o o p T-shirts to s h o w m e that they are i n d o c t r i n a t e d at
a n early a g e w i t h p o p u l a r culture figures. O n e little girl m a k e s a p e a c e sign w i t h her
h a n d . T h a n k y o u for the a n i c l e o n l o o k i n g at art w i t h toddlers [Shaffer & M c G h e e ,
2004]. K e e p u p the g o o d work!

2004: Postcard of "The Giants ofAnimeAre

Coming!" [Mann,

2004]

J U L I E : H e r e is an a n i c l e o n a n i m e that y o u will find very helpful. M y s t u d e n t s are


w a t c h i n g a n i m e . I s e n t it to y o u b e c a u s e I r e m e m b e r h o w y o u said a n i m e was s u c h
an inspirational t e a c h i n g tool, a n d y o u loved the children's large i n n o c e n t eyes.
M A R Y : T h i s is fantastic! It's j u s t w h a t I need in t e a c h i n g m y n e w c o u r s e o n V i s u a l C u l
ture. M y teaching/research has c o m e a l o n g w a y s i n c e d o c u m e n t i n g a m i c r o c o m
p u t e r g r a p h i c s c o u r s e featuring s i m p l e a n i m a t i o n s e q u e n c e s with gifted s t u d e n t s
[ S t o k r o c k i , 1986] a n d K i d Pix a n i m a t i o n w i t h A p a c h e children [Stokrocki, 2002]. I
need to learn m o r e a b o u t a n i m e .

M a r y Stokrocki A V i s u a l C u l t u r e Dialogue

2004: Postcard of Kapadokya,


MARY:

Happy

50th

Nevesehirjurkey

B i r t h d a y ! T h e I n S E A C o n f e r e n c e w a s a t r e m e n d o u s success i n e v e r y

w a y , i n spite o f Bush's visit w i t h N A T O . L o t s o f d a n c i n g a n d g o o d spirit s h a r e d


h e r e . W e t r a v e l e d to this a n c i e n t place o f l i m e s t o n e caves a n d 100 u n d e r g r o u n d c i t
ies. Y o u r p a p e r o n u s i n g m u l t i c u l t u t a l stories w i t h c h i l d r e n w a s o n d i s p l a y at t h e
c o n f e r e n c e . W i s h t h a t y o u c o u l d h a v e a t t e n d e d the c o n f e r e n c e . M y f a m i l y is w e l l
a n d sister is r e c o v e r i n g f r o m b a c k surgery. W i s h y o u a n d y o u r parents m o r e h a p p y
birthdays!
J U L I E : T h i s is v e r y i n t e r e s t i n g t h e

l a n d s c a p e is c a v e r n o u s a n d m y s t e r i o u s l i k e

liv

i n g b o n e . H o w I w i s h I c o u l d h a v e s e e n t h e u n d e r g r o u n d frescoes o n t h e w a l l s !

2005: Postcard of Antonio Gaudi's Architecture,

Barcelona

M A R Y : I a m r e c u p e r a t i n g f r o m m y m i s e r a b l e c o l d . I t gets l o n e l y here. T h e m u s e u m s are


great a n d I l o v e G a u d i ' s a r c h i t e c t u r e . I t is t o u g h n e g o t i a t i n g t h e trains a n d s l e e p i n g
o v e r n i g h t o n t h e t o p b u n k . L e a r n i n g m u c h a n d h o p e I h a v e t h e s t a m i n a to s u r v i v e .
It's v e r y e x p e n s i v e h e r e . M y research goes s l o w a n d I w o n d e r i f I m a k e a n y sense at
all? I l o v e d b e i n g w i t h t h e c h i l d r e n at t h e C a t h o l i c e l e m e n t a r y s c h o o l . M i s s y o u .
T e a c h i n g is a w o n d e r f u l p r o f e s s i o n i t fills y o u r s o u l . G o d bless y o u !
J U L I E : Y O U w r o t e o f all t h e i n t e r e s t i n g sights a n d o f t h e difficulties. Y o u d i d s u c h a n
a m a z i n g j o b i n diverse s i t u a t i o n s . W e h a v e shared r o o m s , b u t w e get little o r n o
m o n e y . T h a t is w h a t I t h o u g h t w h e n I r e a d y o u r c a r d . O u r v a l u e i n society is n o t
o f t e n c o n s i d e r e d i m p o r t a n t , b u t w e are believers a n d c o m m i t t e d t o art i n all its a s
pects.

2007: Postcard of The Next Generation of

Superheroes

M A R Y : I a m so grateful t o y o u for s e n d i n g t h e I n t e r n a t i o n a l c o m i c s series, c a l l e d

The

9?, a b o u t a b a n d o f superheroes based o n I s l a m i c a r c h e t y p e s , e a c h i m b u e d w i t h


o n e o f the 99 qualities t h a t t h e Q u r ' a n a t t r i b u t e s to G o d [ R e s t i n g , 2007]. A f t e r t h e
G u l f W a r in K u w a i t , A l - M u t a w a , a psychologist, w o r k e d w i t h m a n y A r a b survivors
o f t o r t u r e a n d treated p e o p l e s u f f e r i n g f r o m p o s t - t r a u m a t i c stress w i t h c o m i c s . H e
w r o t e a 1996 children's b o o k , To Bounce or Not

to Bounce, t h a t w o n t h e U N E S C O

a w a r d for l i t e r a t u r e for t o l e r a n c e . I w o n d e r w h o w i l l b e t h e next g e n e r a t i o n o f A r t


E d u c a t i o n Superheroes.
J U L I E : T O m e e t s o m e o n e y o u c a n l e a r n a n d g r o w f r o m is w o n d e r f u l . T o h a v e t h a t p e r
s o n b e c o m e a f r i e n d a n d share t h e l o v e a n d passion y o u h a v e is a r e m a r k a b l e gift.

Unraveling Meanings
W h a t does J u l i a a n d m y visual correspondence signify? Better yet, w h a t c a n w e
learn a b o u t m e n t o r i n g f r o m o u r recollections a n d reflections o n this
correspondence? O u r dialogues reveal ingredients are i m p o r t a n t for

multiyear
sustaining

I Visual A r t s Research W i n t e r 2009

meaningful d i a l o g o u s relationships. T h e visuals (postcards) signify aesthetic a n d


life e x p e r i e n c e s t h a t w e a l s o s h a r e d (or s h a r e v i c a r i o u s l y ) . In t h e final s e c t i o n o f
this article, I i d e n t i f y a s p e c t s r e v e a l e d in m y a n a l y s i s o f m y c o l l e c t i o n o f p o s t c a r d
c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s w i t h J u l i e t h a t s e e m t o u n d e r l i e a n d s u p p o r t o u r g r o w i n g rela
t i o n s h i p . T h e s e a s p e c t s i n c l u d e s h a r i n g e x p e r i e n c e s , a n d e v e n fears, finding c o n
n e c t i o n s , a n d r e c i p r o c i t y . T h e s e a r e b u t a few o f t h e c o n n e c t i o n s I s e e as p e r t i n e n t
to o u r g r o w i n g m e n t o r i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p .
A sense of place.

In r e g a r d t o v i s u a l c u l t u r e p r e f e r e n c e s , m o s t o f t h e i m a g e s

that I sent to J u l i a featured m o u n t a i n s . M o u n t a i n s signify e n d u r i n g places a n d


m a j e s t i c sites a n d m a y b e c o n s t r u e d as s i g n i f i c a n t f o r m s . S u z a n n e L a n g e r (1953)
a r g u e d t h a t a r t w o r k s a c t u a l l y " p r e s e n t e m o t i o n a l c o n t e n t for o u r c o n t e m p l a t i o n "
( p . 298). I a m n o t c o n c e r n e d in t h i s a r t i c l e w i t h a r g u i n g t h e s t a t u s o f t h e s e p o s t
c a r d i m a g e s a s art, b u t as v i s u a l o r m a t e r i a l c u l t u r e . T h e i r f u n c t i o n is t o recollect
life e x p e r i e n c e a n d e m o t i o n a l r e s p o n s e s f r o m o r d i n a r y folks. T o J u l i e , w h o w a s
afraid o f h e i g h t s , t h e s e i m a g e s o f m o u n t a i n s w e r e i n d e e d b e a u t i f u l , b u t fearful,
f o r m s . L i f e e x p e r i e n c e s a r e a l s o full o f s u c h o p p o s i t e s . F o r e x a m p l e , J u l i a a n d I a l s o
n o t e d in o u r c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s a g r o w i n g interest in t e a c h i n g v i s u a l c u l t u r e , e v e n
t h o u g h J u l i e w a s r e s i s t a n t at
Similar

roots.

first.

O u r d i a l o g u e a l s o reveals s i m i l a r f a m i l y c o n c e r n s a b o u t o u r

parents, C a t h o l i c spiritual concerns, a n d o u r similar personality characteristics,


w h i c h a r e c h i l d l i k e , e m p a t h e t i c , a n d a d v e n t u r e s o m e at t i m e s . I m p o r t a n t l y , o u r
d i a l o g u e reveals s i m i l a r t e a c h i n g q u a l i t i e s , s u c h as p e r s i s t e n c e , d e s i r e for c o n n e c
t i o n , e v o l v i n g , c a r i n g , s e l f - s e l e c t i n g , reciprocity, a n d p o s s i b i l i t y .
Desire for connection.

Julia and m y continued correspondence was moti

v a t e d m o s t o f all b y a d e s i r e t o m a i n t a i n a c o n n e c t i o n . In o t h e r w o r d s , o u r efforts
t o c o n t i n u e t o reach o u t t o e a c h o t h e r w e r e s e l f - s u s t a i n i n g a n d v a l u e d b y e a c h
o f u s . C a r o l e G i l l i g a n (1982) h a s r e d e f i n e d a n d r e f r a m e d w o m e n ' s p s y c h o l o g i c a l
d e v e l o p m e n t as "a s t r u g g l e for c o n n e c t i o n " ( p . x v ) . M e n t o r s w h o a r e t e a c h e r s m a y
w a n t t o b e c o n n e c t e d t o s t u d e n t s w h e n t h e y g e t lonely, b u t s p e a k i n g a l s o d e p e n d s
o n l i s t e n i n g a n d b e i n g h e a r d , w h i c h is a r e l a t i o n a l a c t ( p . x v i ) .
Reciprocity

and possibility.

M o s t importantly, Julia and m y relationship

w a s r e c i p r o c a l . M e n t o r i n g is a t w o - w a y s t r e e t : " M e n t o r i n g o u g h t t o f o c u s o n
better p o s i t i o n i n g o f goals, rather than w h i n i n g a n d c o m p l a i n i n g " (Watson,
2005). M e n t o r s a l s o n e e d s u p p o r t f r o m t h e i r s t u d e n t s . T h e a r t o f m e n t o r s h i p
grows when people share accounts o f patience, persistence, and d e e p percep
t i o n s . I n t i m e , m e n t o r s h i p is r e v e r s e d , a n d s t u d e n t s c a n t e a c h t h e i r m e n t o r s
a b o u t n e w a r t f o r m s a n d p e d a g o g i c a l i d e a s . W e m a k e o u r p r o f e s s i o n a l lives c o
h e r e b y s h a r i n g o u r s t o r i e s , o u r w a y s o f s t o r y t e l l i n g , a n d o u r r e a s o n s for s t o r i e s
( C o a t e s , 1996; Z a n d e r , 2007).

Mary Stokrocki A Visual C u l t u r e Dialogue

Conclusions a n d Future Implications


M e n t o r i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s a r e i m p o r t a n t in t h e w o r k p l a c e . T h e s e l f is a n e m p t y
shell, a n d a n e t w o r k o f c o n n e c t i o n s is s i g n i f i c a n t , e s p e c i a l l y for w o m e n : " M e n
t o r i n g m a y r e d u c e stress, i n c r e a s e c a r e e r s a t i s f a c t i o n , a n d i m p r o v e p r o d u c t i v i t y .
W o m e n with female m e n t o t s reported significantly lower i n c o m e than females
w i t h m a l e m e n t o r s ' ( B l a k e - B e a r d , 2005). S u c h t e a c h e r s , n e w a n d e x p e r i e n c e d
a l i k e , s e e m to b a n d t o g e t h e r , n o t o n l y for c o m m i s e r a t i o n , b u t a l s o for p r o b l e m
s o l v i n g a n d s h a r i n g r e s o u r c e s . F o r m a l i z e d p r o f e s s i o n a l m e n t o r i n g p r o g r a m s for
p r o f e s s i o n a l s w o r k i n g in e d u c a t i o n a l s e t t i n g s are g r e a t l y n e e d e d . O n t h e o t h e r
h a n d , a m e n t o r i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p is e v o l v i n g , c a r i n g , a n d s e l f - s e l e c t i n g . F o r m a l
m e n t o r i n g p r o g r a m s m a y fail w h e n t h e r e is " t o o m u c h s t r u c t u r e , t o o little s t r u c
ture, i n a p p r o p r i a t e e x p e c t a t i o n s , p o o r c o m m u n i c a t i o n " ( B o y l e , 2005). T o k n o w
m o r e fully w h a t f o r m a l i z e d a n d i n f o r m a l m e n t o r i n g s t r u c t u r e s a n d s t r a t e g i e s
w o r k well, w e c u r r e n t l y n e e d m o r e s t u d i e s a n d e s p e c i a l l y m o r e l o n g i t u d i n a l s t u d
ies o f m e n t o r i n g in p r o f e s s i o n a l life, p a r t i c u l a r l y in e d u c a t i o n . W h a t e l s e c a n w e
learn b y d o c u m e n t i n g o u r o w n d i a l o g u e s w i t h j u n i o r t e a c h e r s , e s p e c i a l l y t h o s e i n
t h e t r e n c h e s ? W h a t will w e learn b y s t u d y i n g o r d i n a r y w o m e n m e n t o r s , s u c h a s
S t o k r o c k i ' s (in p r e s s ) m a t r i a r c h a l c o s t u m e a n d p e r f o r m a n c e a r t in Z i m m e r m a n ' s
feschrifp.

W h a t are the results o f e - m e n t o r i n g o f y o u n g e r c o l l e a g u e s a n d o f w o m e n

o f c o l o r ( S J B R e s e a r c h C o n s u l t i n g , 2004)? T h i s c a l l s for " H o l y M e n r o r m o n y , " t h e


e s t a b l i s h m e n t o f s a c r e d m e n t o r s h i p s t h o s e t h a t c o n t i n u e t o g l o w ( M a x , 2007).
S / h e w h o finds a m e n t o r , finds a t r e a s u r e ( K a p u r , 1997).

Note
This essay is an invited paper derived from the speech presented by. and on t h e occasion of,
Mary Stokrocki receiving t h e June King M c F e e A w a r d , National A r t Education Association Con
vention, N e w York, 2007.

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TITLE: Unraveling a Meaningful Mentor Relationship: A Visual


Culture Dialogue
SOURCE: Visual Arts Research 35 no2 Wint 2009
PAGE(S): 137-47
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