About us

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The Making Waves team (l-r): Anita Sinner; Paula Cameron; Sarah Lawrance; Dorothy Lander.




For me, this photo, taken by Kit Grauer on the Galiano Island ferry dock, represents the essence of island life, a west coast moment that embodies how place is artful inspiration. My research interests in arts-based methods, women’s learning experiences, life writing, teacher education and adult education bring together diverse threads that inform how I understand teaching and learning. In addition to this project, I’m a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Lethbridge; a research collaborator with Kit Grauer investigating youth and new media; and I teach photography for the classroom.



I have long been fascinated by authority as an embodied (and gendered) performance of power in our daily lives. Most recently, I’ve created a body of arts-informed work, including sculpture, drawings, and a zine, that consider (disrupted) health and embodiment as sources of learning and re-imagined authority. I am a PhD student working with the Centre for Arts-informed Research in the Adult Education and Community Development program at OISE/UT in Toronto.

This image was taken by Fenn Martin at Mabou Mines Beach, Nova Scotia, in late August, 2008. I chose it for its geographic representation of living at the seams: at the edge of what is known and possible. It is a common quandary for Maritimers that we must leave home in order to return again. Economic and educational opportunities pull many of us reluctantly away. I am now living and learning in the biggest city in the country. In my work, I am inspired by my grandmother, a seamstress who made magic of making do, and my grandfather, a farmer and diviner who coaxed water from unexpected cracks in the ground.



Sarah Lawrance is a 2nd year M.A. candidate at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ontario, where she is currently studying the various intersections between sex work and pedagogy in order to understand and give voice to sex worker activists, artists, and educators. She is also interested in social justice activism, nonhierarchical organization, subcultures, the social construction of menstruation, and alternative approaches to education.

I think this photo begins to illustrate how I use my body as a canvas, as a tool in challenging people’s perceptions of and assumptions about the roles that we play– like our gender, sexuality, and even what it means to be an academic or an educator! My self-presentation, or ‘costume’, in some ways serves to deny the legitimacy of these perceptions and assumptions, and in other ways it makes the performative element of these roles evident.



(photo credit: John Graham-Pole, my husband and co-researcher)

The sunflowers, planted from seed in the summer of 2008, grew tall in the black earth of a horse barn foundation on our two acres on the outskirts of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. For me, sunflowers stretching toward the sun, nourished by the bounty of the earth, are an emblem for the appreciative approach to life and learning and research – hence the focus of this blog on the value of women’s stories and women’s art through history. My front story: I am Senior Research Professor at St Francis Xavier University. In 2007, I retired as teacher and thesis advisor in the Master of Adult Education program at StFX. I continue my arts-based, historical research, focusing on women’s social movement learning, e.g., temperance, suffrage, cooperatives, peace, hospice/palliative care, and art-for-health.

My back story: The seeds of my engagement with women’s art and activism were sown early in life; my mother, my aunts and grandmothers were active in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Movement. As a teen, I reluctantly participated in WCTU elocution contests, and attended youth leadership gatherings. I was exposed to – if not aware – of the range of art forms that WCTU women brought to bear on social and public health issues related to tobacco, alcohol, poverty, and family violence. Only in my academic research life, did I come lately to a [sunflower] appreciation of the legacy of my temperance foremothers to the women’s movement.


Dear Reader: A letter from Dorothy

One Response to “About us”

  1. Hi Dorothy, just saw your note on Gravity Matters, Thanks, glad you were moved. Sonja


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