Theses Doctoral

To Be Original: An Artist’s Journey from Liminality to Knowledge of Self

Mason, Eric

As I began this research, and even as a younger person, I thought it was the responsibility of my father to teach me what it is to be a man and how to embrace manhood. However, through the tools of self-study and autoethnography as a research method, it has become apparent that the responsibility falls upon me to seek manhood and to develop a lifelong practice of building good character. In the words of Dr. Leon Wright (1975), “To know God, one must know all about man.”

This research seeks to bring clarity to my efforts to find out who I am. It details my journey from boy to artist to man. It works to highlight the interplay between three aspects of identity that make up my sense of self: racial identity, social/emotional identity (manhood) and lastly, my professional identity as an artist. This writing works to establish a personal meaning for manhood gained through self-reflection, personal experience, and formal rites of passage participation. This research initiates as an investigation concerning the members of my family, and my interaction with the men who have had a direct involvement in my life.

This is an endeavor to document my path toward gaining/acknowledging purpose while working to acquire the knowledge of myself. I started with confronting my pain, realizing my creativity and artistry, welcoming my personality, to eventually embracing spirituality, all as a quest for knowledge. The knowledge of myself leads to the comprehension of my purpose in life, without which, as David Deida writes, I would be “totally lost, drifting, adapting to events rather than creating events” (2007, p. 37). This document is my inquiry to this acquisition of life purpose. On this quest, I have since modified Dr. Wright’s words to suggest that, “To know God, one must know all about themselves.”


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Burton, Judith M.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 15, 2022