University of Oulu

“Being in a forest, it is so magical to me” : a narrative study on aesthetic experience of nature and its influence on artistic creativity

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Author: Lee, Eutheum1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Pages: 96
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : E. Lee, 2016
Publish Date: 2016-08-24
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Pesonen, Jaana
Reviewer: Rautio, Pauliina
Pesonen, Jaana
Art and aesthetic value are generally acknowledged to elevate our minds and enhance the quality of life. The motivation of this study arose from the researcher’s own experience of Finnish nature, which influenced her artistic creativity and the world view. Thus, the starting point of this research lies on the curiosity of the researcher about how other people experience nature. The research focuses on aesthetic experience of Finnish nature and tries to search its connection to artistic creativity and meaning-making from the experiences. The aim of the research, therefore, is to depict and understand different aesthetic experiences of nature through narratives. The research questions are: 1. What kind of aesthetic experiences do participants of the research narrate in relation to nature? 2. How do narrators relate aesthetic experience of nature to artistic creativity? 3. What meanings do narrators give to aesthetic experiences of nature? The theoretical framework of this study draws on aesthetics, especially by adopting the ideas of environmental aesthetics and everyday aesthetics. The framework provides the understanding of aesthetic experience in the field of everyday aesthetics; it means that aesthetic appreciation is not art oriented, but broadened into appreciation in everyday life. This study gives attention to subjects’ sense, emotion and imagination through the ideas of Berleant (1992, 1996, 2002, 2005), Brady (2003), Carlson (1981), Dewey (1934) and Saito (2007). I also follow the theories of Haapala (2005) and Tuan (1977) to study meaning-making from experiences. The research was conducted by using narrative inquiry; as it allows a researcher to understand a phenomenon in a deeper level by investigating the ways human experience the world described through stories. The research subjects are art minor students in the faculty of education at the University of Oulu. The interviews were carried out individually as a form of semi-structured interview with open-ended questions. The data were analyzed by applying Polkinghorne (1995)’s analysis of narratives and Riessman (2008)’s thematic analysis. For the first research question, the result of data analysis indicated that participants described the experience of nature as positive and pleasant with diverse gestalt, behavior and affective qualities. Even though they share same qualities, the stories behind were different by each individual as they all have different characteristics and lives. The narratives on the experiences of nature showed different processes of feelings, emotion and imagination of the participants. For the second research questions, it was found that aesthetic experience of nature has a significant influence on artistic creativity as it provides references for art and a space for building artistic creativity. Artistic creativity was strongly influenced by the experience of nature when participants’ feeling, emotion and imagination were actively involved. For the last research question, the meaning of the experience of nature was discovered as it gives energy for life and provides chances for self-awareness. The experience of nature was meaningful by reflecting on participants’ life and their own selves. In conclusion, the research showed that the participants experience nature through diverse senses. Imagination and recalling the past also played important roles when experiencing it. Hence, the experiences of nature were contextual and relative depending on individuals. The result of this study also found that the aesthetic experience of nature had a notable influence on artistic creativity for the participants. In addition to that, the research shows the significance of nature in human’s life both as an environment and as an energizer for one’s life. Consequently, this study promotes the awareness and importance of experiencing nature with aesthetic values.
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Copyright information: © Eutheum Lee, 2016. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.