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Dissertation: 21 August 2015: Rethinking Visual Art Practice in Relation to Well-Being. A Conceptual Analysis (Jaatinen)


21.8.2015 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki, H320
M.A. Päivi-Maria Jaatinen defends her doctoral dissertation in Art History ”Rethinking Visual Art Practice in Relation to Well-Being. A Conceptual Analysis”. Opponent Adjunct Professor Tutta Palin (University of Turku) and custos Professor Annika Waenerberg (University of Jyväskylä).The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.

Päivi-Maria JaatinenM.A. Päivi-Maria Jaatinen defends her doctoral dissertation in Art History ”Rethinking Visual Art Practice in Relation to Well-Being. A Conceptual Analysis”. Opponent Adjunct Professor Tutta Palin (University of Turku) and custos Professor Annika Waenerberg (University of Jyväskylä).

The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.


The study examines how the concepts related to visual art practice and well-being have been used in the arts and academic sectors. Furthermore, it studies whether it is possible to create a new theoretical and conceptual framework for research. The research material of the arts and academic sectors was examined by the methods of critical review and conceptual analysis. The conceptual analysis led to the following main results: The employment of the concepts concerning the practice of visual arts was diverse, often overlapping, and in some respects incoherent. Both the concepts of ‘art’ and ‘well-being’ were mostly used as reasoning with generalizations. This strategy of discourse was conceptualized as ‘the stated ideal’ of research. A lack of theoretical frameworks and conceptions in regard to both art research and contemporary psychology was discovered. 

Further study led to the examination of the concepts of subjective well-being (SWB), psychological well-being (PWB), hedonic and eudaimonic well-being (EWB), and flow as a subjective, cognitive-affective experience. A set of relevant conceptions in order to connect the visual art practice with contemporary psychology was discovered. New interdisciplinary theoretical and conceptual frameworks were developed. The principal conceptions of well-being recommended to be applied in research concerning visual art practice are hedonic and eudaimonic well-being as psychological constructs.

 The new conceptual framework for situationalized and contextualized research takes into consideration the reflective knowledge of art research, and the theories by Waterman and colleagues, Huta, Getzels and Csikszentmihalyi in psychology, and Langer and Dewey in aesthetics. The framework consists of the following conceptions: 1) environment, 2) arts facilitation, 3) arts participation, 4) art activity, 5) artistic process, and 6) artwork. Several research aspects of the conceptions are discussed. In addition, an in situ art workshop research method is introduced. The results provide relevant theoretical support for a new connection between visual art practice and eudaimonic and hedonic well-being. Eudaimonic well-being can be enhanced through the practice of visual arts if the practice is considered as having value, quality and meaning, opportunities for personal growth and self-expression, and the activities and engagement are intrinsically motivated. These notions are conceptualized as the meaningfulness of the visual art practice.

The new frameworks can be used when formulating a research question or hypothesis, or when selecting methodology. The study can thus benefit the diverse fields of arts and humanities, practice-based art and design research, as well as health, social and leisure sciences. 

 Keywords: visual arts, visual art practice, art activity, arts facilitation, aesthetics, psychological well-being, eudaimonic well-being, flow, meaningfulness, positive psychology, conceptual analysis, human-centered service design, interdisciplinary research.

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Päivi-Maria Jaatinen