Amanda Shopa

Artist. Researcher. Teacher.

Artmaking First


“Artmaking first. Process over product.”

One of the difficult things about being an arts-based researcher, for me, is trying to figure out how to find time for artmaking over writing. Ultimately, the academy (the whole system I’m depending on to grant me my PhD) honors writing more than artmaking, and my dissertation is primarily a written document.

About a year ago, I realized that the “hobbies” I’ve engaged in since elementary school (namely textile fiber arts and photography) are the most important parts of my dissertation. They may not take up as many pages as the written word, but they are the most important part of my dissertation.

Even more importantly, artmaking is the most important thing in my life. (Dissertation writing doesn’t leave much room for life, but I’m claiming it.)

In December 2021, I wrote a journal entry wondering what might happen, how my life might be different, if I put art first.

Since then, I’ve tried hard to do some form of artmaking every day I also work on my dissertation. I’m not always successful, and the writing is still taking up more time than the artmaking. Still, I’ve noticed a huge change in my mood and my spirit since putting art first.

“Artmaking first.”

This was one of my first (and only so far) joomchi projects. Joomchi is a traditional Korean art where mulberry paper is felted together.

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