Joan Mullin

United States (residence) °1949
affiliation: University of North Carolina Charlotte

 Joan Mullin has initiated and directed writing across the disciplines programs/writing centers at the University of Toledo and the University of Texas at Austin, served as Chair of English Studies at Illinois State University, and is not Executive Director at UNC Charlotte in the U.S. Mullin has published at the intersections of writing and disciplines, focusing on the visual/alphabetical texts; she has co-authored ARTiculating. Teaching Writing in a Visual Culture, Who Owns This Text? Plagiarism, Authorship and Disciplinary Cultures and recently contributed to The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts. Her collaboration in the UK, Germany, Turkey, Greece and other countries has presented opportunities to study international approaches to teaching writing, and concepts of ownership in visual disciplines; she is founding co-editor of Research Exchange Index (REx),  a database for the collection, aggregation, and sharing of international writing research: .


Exposition: Rationality, Intuition and Emotion - Exploring an Artistic Process (01/01/2013) by Gert Germeraad
Joan Mullin 18/06/2013 at 13:41

Many artists find themselves caught in creative reiteration, develop an artistic block, are dissatisfied with their work. Like Germeraad they may ask, What may be keeping me from pushing my work further? How might I fruitfully occupy another perspective to see my work differently? Common prescriptions to resolve these issues (“go research,” “read,” “look at other artists’ work”) are too often taken at face value and routinely employed. Germeraad moves these traditional research tools to the next level by examining the personal as research process. Here, the relationship between psychoses and artistic production is not sensationalized but harnessed as research/artistic process; well conceptualized and executed the exposition will be of use across a number of creative fields.


The artist generously opens up his memory and reflections, demonstrating how research/writing/drawing reveal deeper layers that link to his motives for creating identity (others’ and his own) through sculpture. This creative exploration both compliments and is stimulated by traditional means of research, and Germeraad shows how to coax the interplay of both, how to blur the lines among the grammars an artist employs (i.e. among sculpting, drawing, remembering, and writing) in order to expand the potential of media and push the artistic process to a new level.


Germeraad’s use of the personal and method of presentation in this exposition demonstrates that he is not giving anyone a template to follow. Instead, the exposition invites others to use his exploration as a model and create their own map, take a reflective journey that best suits their identities-as-they-emerge-in-art. He provides examples, such as his discussion about drawing and memory. He states that he never believed himself able to draw since his sister was considered best at drawing. Yet as Germeraad shows, his subsequent engagement with writing/drawing made visible this attitude and pushed him to engage in drawing anew. This in turn positively affected his engagement with figures.


Germeraad notes, “Motif and content are directly linked;” this statement seems obvious, but like much of the writing in this exposition, it metaphorically represents the layers at work in this exposition are the same as those in the figures he sculpts. Both his figures, drawing, and his writing subtly direct the reader’s/viewer’s attention, inviting reflectivity. As a result, the reader can more easily enter the work itself, become part of the final artist’s exhibition, one focusing on empathetic, human connection. Thus the multiple means of human research that contributed to the work are present at once: reflection, figure, drawing. This underscores the links Germeraad seeks to achieve by digging out his past (the self-as-artist built through experience, interpretation, artifacts of memory), and that of others’ represented, except for his work, with only numbers, brief descriptors that show not human complexity but surface. By interpreting his past, Germeraad faces his own erasure and finds the means to create a narrative that tangibly represents more than surface.


Opening statements correctly describe the use and misuse of physiognomy, and summarize how those notions have evolved over time. Those interested in other disciplinary explorations that compliment this area may find it useful to read further about current practices that connect the emotional life of the person and their surface/phsyiology—and, therefore, how an artists might enact their own narratives. Such readings are authored by medical doctors (John E Sarno’s The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain; Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief; Amit Goswami’s Quantum Doctor); psychologists (Shulman and Watkins’ Towards Psychologies of Liberation; Barratt’s The Emergence of Somatic Psychology and Bodymind Therapy; \Pennebaker’s work,, and by the growing explorations of the Alexander Technique, Rolfing, myofascial release, and cranial-sacral therapies. These further support Germeraad’s use of rationality, intuition, and emotion in his artistic process, as do articles in The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice and ArtText (especially the article by Göransson & Ljungberg its 2010 publication).


The actual structure of this exposition also mirrors the purpose: the reader/viewer moves back and forth between commentary, journal, drawing, figure, making connections and sense out of the reflections as they are arranged. Germeraad successfully walks a line between directing the reader and pointing the reader in a direction, thus further reflecting the illusiveness of memory, it’s role in constructing identity, and its importance in shaping and linking artistic texts of all kinds.