ArticlePDF Available

In the Eye of the Tornado: Encounters with Clay—A Relational Materialist Orientation Toward Cultivating Curriculum


Abstract and Figures

This paper follows three student-educators’ journey with clay. Embedded in the contextual space of the studio, the paper considers the complexities and processes involved in cultivating curriculum and thinking with the idea of art as a language. Inspired by the relational materialist approach, Erin, Roselyn, and Colleen enter into a dialogue with clay—embodying one another, entangling with each other, intra-actively doing unto one another, and reaffirming that knowing things is embedded deeply in relational connectivity with the world around us—onto-epistemology. The authors journey together with clay through spinning, twirling, tornadoes, storms, music, chaos, and destruction.
Content may be subject to copyright.
SEPTEMBER 2022 68 Vol. 47 No. 2
In the Eye of the Tornado: Encounters with Clay—A Relational
Materialist Orientation Toward Cultivating Curriculum
Erin Malki, Roselyn Gutierrez, and Colleen Skuggedal
Erin Malki, BA ECCE, MA RCC, has worked as an early childhood educator since 2004. Currently, she teaches as a sessional instructor,
supporting and guiding new early childhood educators. Erin is also a registered clinical counsellor. Her emphasis and motivation
in both elds stem from the signicance of relationships and relational healing and how deeply those link to our existence. Email:
Roselyn Gutierrez is an early childhood educator at a nonprot neighbourhood house organization in Vancouver, British Columbia. She
received her BA in ECCE in 2019 from Capilano University. Roselyn is passionate about giving voice to young children and educators.
Colleen Skuggedal is an early childhood educator in the process of completing her bachelor’s degree in early childhood care and
education at Capilano University. She resides in Vancouver on the traditional lands of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh
peoples in so-called Canada.
is inquiry took place in an advanced curriculum
course led by Dr. Sylvia Kind at Capilano University.
Roselyn, Colleen, and Erin, third- and fourth-year
students in the early childhood care and education
degree program at Capilano, were put together
into a group. As a group, we were all very curious
about clay despite having minimal exposure and
experience with the material. e assignment was
to investigate being-with clay. To help ground our
thinking, we carried with us a desire to imagine
what it means to cultivate curriculum through a
relational materialist lens (Lenz Taguchi, 2011)—
that is, to imbue an ethics of immanence and
potentiality toward our relations with clay.
What unfolded was a series of entanglements
illustrating the material in learning (Lenz Taguchi,
2011), which demonstrate the emergence of
assemblages and multiplicities that bloom in the
in-between intra-actions of maker, material, and
more-than-human. We became-with clay (Lenz Taguchi, 2011). Our orientation upon our meeting with clay
was grounded in a resistance to humancentric or anthropocentric relations; we “consider[ed] entanglement as
a fundamental state … understand[ing] that separateness is not the original state of being” (Brown et al., 2020,
p. 1). We asked, What becomes lost or taken for granted in an acute and chronic obsession with humancentricity?
Furthermore, we questioned the extreme perpetuation of the autonomous individual child, which Taylor, Pacini-
Ketchabaw, and Blaise (2012) explain as being just an illusion. rough our inquiry with clay, we attempted to
bridge the gap between the human and more-than-human, inculcating a natural troubling of humancentrism into
an evocation of the truth regarding our cosmologies and the interdependent, intrinsic nature of humans and all
other forms of life on earth and beyond. We, settler-colonialist student-educators on Musqueam, Squamish, and
Tsleil-Waututh territories, humbly acknowledge longstanding Indigenous worldviews that have always spoken of
is paper follows three student-educators’ journey with
clay. Embedded in the contextual space of the studio, the
paper considers the complexities and processes involved
in cultivating curriculum and thinking with the idea of
art as a language. Inspired by the relational materialist
approach, Erin, Roselyn, and Colleen enter into a
dialogue with clay—embodying one another, entangling
with each other, intra-actively doing unto one another,
and rearming that knowing things is embedded deeply
in relational connectivity with the world around us—
onto-epistemology. e authors journey together with
clay through spinning, twirling, tornadoes, storms,
music, chaos, and destruction.
Key words: artistic processes; relational materialist
approach; onto-epistemology; curriculum; assemblages
SEPTEMBER 2022 69 Vol. 47 No. 2
a relationship framework: one of interconnectedness (Poitras Pratt & Gladue, 2022).
For the three of us, the importance of thinking alongside Indigenous worldviews stems from our ethical belief that
our responsibilities and accountabilities as settler-colonialist student-educators on unceded territories calls for an
ethics of immanence and potentiality. Lenz Taguchi (2011, citing Deleuze, 1994) writes, “An ethics of immanence
and potentiality is concerned with the interconnections and intra-actions in between human and non-human
organisms, matter and things, in processes of constant movement and transformation, where all of us continuously
become dierent in ourselves” (p. 47, emphasis in original). Indigenous thinkers have told us and still tell us about
the unending presence of relationships—of being in relation and of being interconnectedly fused with everything
and all things always—and the impact those entanglements holistically have on one another (Todd, 2016). Our
orientation with clay was toward a recovering of Indigenous worldviews that Indigenous thinkers have embodied
and shared for millennia (Todd, 2016). Taylor et al. (2012) write that they “hold out additional hope that by paying
these relations more attention, we can do our bit to defuse the human-centric conceits of rampant individualism
(p. 1). As individuals born and raised in this settler-colonial society, we noticed even more palpably how our
individualistic conditioning wired us dierently from the fundamental worldviews of Indigenous peoples and
their sacred culture. It was not natural for us to think with clay in an interconnected way. is inquiry was an
opportunity for us to put into practice this newly shied perspective; however, it took time. Paying closer attention
to things considered as “the other” was a place of new beginnings for all three of us.
Relational materialism
A relational materialist theoretical approach to curriculum emancipates learning from the dominant hierarchies of
binary thinking, in particular the privileging of humancentric ways of knowing over other matter. is approach
invited us to “read the world around us from our embodiment and being a part of the world, and being in an
equal state among other organisms and matter” in our encounter (Lenz Taguchi, 2011, p. 40, citing Barad, 2007).
In our multiple encounters with clay in the assemblages curated in the studio space, not only did we become-with
clay as we considered its and our own multiplicity, but we also began to understand how matter—clay, music,
pottery wheel, images, ideas, bodies—becomes performative agents with their own agency as they interconnect—
aecting and becoming aected by the ows and intensities present in the studio space. Becoming aected by
the intersections of other materialities and agencies in the in-betweens of events in the studio space opens up an
ethical and participatory space” for learning and becoming (Lenz Taguchi, 2011, p. 47). Our encounters allowed
not only clay but also music, video, and pottery wheel to become active agents in our becoming-with clay; with
each new encounter we became “anew” (Lenz Taguchi, 2011, p. 47). Becoming anew with each singular encounter
became an evident conrmation of the relational materialist approach to learning and becoming—our knowing-
being changed with each encounter.
Together the three of us carried ideas around materiality, about the liveliness of materials, and of honouring the
complexities and the processual, continuous unfoldings experienced as being meaning ful, transformative, inventive,
expressive, interpretive, and communicative, not only with the artist, but also with the artist’s surroundings. We
approached the shaping of ideas as not just coming from the maker or the environment, but also from the materials
(Pacini-Ketchabaw et al., 2017). e materials do something to the maker just as the maker does something to the
materials, and it is through this relationship that intra-activity occurs (Barad, 2007). inking about art processes
and artistic inquiries as multifarious, rich languages that do not always have a desired place from which to begin,
or a desired place for ending, honours the gap of the in-between; where new knowledge and new ways of being
emerge. is orientation toward materials as a language of art captivated our inquiry with clay and our reimaginings
of what it meant to “do art.” Taking from Barad’s work, Brown et al. (2020) arm the suggestion that “knowledge
SEPTEMBER 2022 70 Vol. 47 No. 2
is not outside of us waiting to be found, discovered or created by one person in isolation, but is something that is
generated in relationship with each other and the environment (p. 2). For us, our intentions were aimed toward
disrupting any relational hierarchies in order to truly practice being with the clay, being with the studio, and being
with each other and others.
Contemplating how we, as educators, engage in artistic processes with young children and materials, we draw
on / think with Sylvia Kind's (2010) conceptualization around art, leading us to comprehend that “creating” art
is complex. It is neither an individual, inner process nor a form of self-expression rendered from an artist’s idea,
formulated in the artist’s mind and then simply brought to life by way of representation. Art is more complicated
than that. Art is not straightforward. Art represents an alchemy of layered evolutions and nonlinear processes that
ebb and ow, always living, with imperceptible beginnings and endings (Kind et al., 2019). Materials themselves
are not linear or static—each has their own agency, rhythm, movement, and ways of being—a taken-for-granted
notion when conceptualized in this way (Kind, 2010). erefore, we approached this inquiry in spaces of dierence
with hopes of experiencing multiple encounters which we thought (or conceptualized) as wholly relational,
unpredictable, not yet known, undiscovered, and disruptive, coming together moment within moment, with all
entities, forces, and spaces, human and more than human (Pacini-Ketchabaw et al., 2017). We began our encounter
with only clay, but as you will see, each encounter provided spaces for diraction and produced an abundance of
multiplicities, such as pottery wheel spinning and twirling with tornado and ballerina.
is careful attention toward being-with is a concept we embraced from Karen Barad’s work. Barad (2007) discusses
the concept of ontology—the state of being—and the concept of epistemology—the state of knowing—and she
argues “that it is impossible to isolate knowing from being, since they are mutually implicated” (p. 185). at is
to say that knowing or coming to know clay in detail is deeply rooted within and between the multiple levels of
relational intra-action and interconnection. Relationality is the cornerstone. ese constant entanglements with
others, the world, and more-than-human entities is what allows us to ourish—in connection. Barad explains that
through an onto-epistemology, “we as beings are becoming with the world and … the becoming of the world is a
deeply ethical matter (p. 185).
In the photographic narratives below, moments of poetry and generative questions emerged and were interspersed
in our moments of inspiration as we entangled and became-with clay. Constructing curriculum through a relational
materialist approach is not easy. roughout the inquiry, our encounters with clay oen generated multiple
questions, and we were oen le unsure as to how and what to respond to. Oentimes we felt overwhelmed by the
questions and we noticed a sense of urgency to respond to something, anything. Moreover, we became cognizant
of our conditioning toward traditional forms of curriculum.
Our past exposures to subject-centered or learner-centered formats inculcated an expectation of linearity, of
expecting what comes next. Dominant understandings of curriculum development oen occur in a linear fashion
driven by concepts predetermined by experts as subjects/topics that children at dierent stages should engage
with. For example, one-week children might learn about cocoons and then the following week they will learn
about butteries. is linear approach takes for granted and makes invisible the relational multiplicities produced
within spaces of dierence that naturally collide with each other when minds and materials come together. e
collisions that occur from these spaces of dierence are invariably aected and eected by specic conditions,
such as the social location and cultural identities—gender, gender identity, ethnicity, Indigeneity, ability, social
class, age, race, and spirituality—of the educators, the children, the space, the land, and the materials. We, along
with more-than-human entities, each carry our own stories, beliefs, behaviours, and attitudes. e three of us tried
to listen to the music of these multiplicities, the relational reciprocities, rather than see through the stripped bare
SEPTEMBER 2022 71 Vol. 47 No. 2
nature of fragmentation.
Our encounters with clay challenged us ethically and morally toward a better understanding that everything and
all things are interconnected in every moment. It was challenging for us to orient ourselves toward seeing the
relationality in all the more-than-human and human entities present, yet we were called to ethically and response-
ably pay attention to and respond to these calls. We attempted to push ourselves away from thinking in fragmented
ways or from only seeing the value in the concepts or the learner. Reecting on our encounters became crucial
in our practice as it prompted us to slow down, pause, and dwell with the interconnected essences of the inquiry.
Lingering with the discomfort and coming to realize that one is changed as one encounters something new, we
now encourage you, as you read through the following narratives, to immerse yourselves in the questions as if you
yourselves were the ones entangling and intra-acting with clay.
Encounters with clay inquiry
Mold, improvise, reshape, encounter, comfort, relax, embody, stuck, tension, dry, covered, squish,
pinch, elemental, seeping, creeping, assemblage, exible, malleable, spin, dance, affect, effect, static,
movement, perform, wrap, enwrap, listen, feel, hear, touch, move, immerse, emerge, dance.
Being-with clay
Clay is oen characterized as a static material demanding a certain situatedness that does not require much
movement. Yet, in our exploration and experimentation with clay as it entangled and intra-acted with the many
assemblages that emerged, a new and dierent way of knowing and being-with clay transpired. Artistic languages
are nuanced in their expression, in their provocations, in their colours, in their textures, in their exibility, in their
relationship to their surroundings, in their couplings and even in their triplings with other elements. Inspired
by a relational materialist approach, we conceptualized clay in relation with all the other entities present in the
studio—human and/or more-than-human—continually colliding and entangling. As we worked closely with clay
in the carefully curated studio, being cognizant of the ideas and concepts embedded in relational materialism, we
attuned to and entered into spaces of “multiple lines of intersecting and intra-acting movements, not just a singular
or individual process from idea to form, but an entanglement of things ‘in the making’” (Kind & Argent, 2019,
p. 3). We, along with the materials, entered into a dialogue, embodying one another, entangling with each other,
intra-actively doing unto one another, rearming that
we do not just come to know things but that knowing
things is embedded deeply in relational connectivity
with the world around us: onto-epistemology (Geerts
et al., 2019; Lenz Taguchi, 2011). rough our
entanglements, we came to understand the inuence
of the assemblage and how at-risk our encounters
with clay were of being uprooted and disrupted. at
is to say, it was precisely in the collision and the risk
of disruption with clay that something new would
emerge (Barad, 2007; Kind, 2010, 2017; Lenz Taguchi,
Figure 1. Clay entanglements.
SEPTEMBER 2022 72 Vol. 47 No. 2
e liveliness of clay
Figure 2. Being-with clay.
Many of our curiosities centered around the rhythms, intensities, and characteristics of clay as our hands joined
with clay in the studio assemblages. We assumed clay did not require much movement, that it was sedentary
and demanded a certain situatedness. Our presumptions of clay as a passive recipient of our ideas and notions
regarding what clay could be or could do placed us in a hierarchy of “higher knowing” and positioned us as
observers rather than in equanimity of being-with clay. Upon noticing this imbalance, attuned, we shied out of
an observer placement and into embodying a relational materialist approach. rough our embodied relationship
with clay, we began to attune our bodies and minds toward clay’s being, and we learned more about clay’s needs. If
kept hydrated, clay would feel so and would generously repay us with ease of movement and a sense of relaxation.
If its need for water were ignored, however, clay would start to harden, crumble, and separate with every movement
of our hands. We learned how clay seeks to entangle with us, and as studious interlocutors we became more
attuned to clay. Our encounter with clay elucidated the intra-activeness in-between our agency and clay’s agency.
We noticed that the lines blurred from the place where our entities began and the place where clay’s entity ended.
We were not separate but rather infused into a reliant and relational, reciprocal entanglement with one another.
An encounter with something new
Figure 3. The poery wheel.
We found ourselves standing in front of a pottery wheel that was hidden in the back of the studio. We stood there
in collision with the pottery wheel and began to embrace the interconnectedness of how our feelings and senses
SEPTEMBER 2022 73 Vol. 47 No. 2
contiguously induced our cognitions—bodyminds (Lenz Taguchi, 2011). What is this thing the pottery wheel? How
does clay connect and live with the pottery wheel? How do we become relational with the pottery wheel and the clay?
How will the pottery wheel and clay become relational with us? e pottery wheel’s call to us was powerful; we could
not resist it. As we came together with the pottery wheel and engaged with its force, we listened with relational
materialist perspectives to guide us. We became open to nding the voice and the visibility of the material; we
embraced the possibilities and moments of a diracted onto-epistemology emerging (Lenz Taguchi, 2011). We
knew this collision of elements would produce something new.
Figure 4. Poetry in moon.
e studio aorded us the privilege of being able to explore the pottery wheel. Echo upon echo, circles, spinning,
roundness of the clay, rounding formations made with hands, simple closed curve, layer upon layer of this over and
over, circle speaking to circle, mushed wet hands, the agency of the slightest touch or movement. In relation with
the pottery wheel, more questions seeped through our bodyminds: How did these movements aect us? How did
movements aect the clay? How does clay respond to spinning movements mixed with hands and speed? How are we in
relation with the clay? How do relations help us to understand, make meanings, and create new understandings? We
think with Lenz Taguchi (2011) when she writes, “this approach reads reality in ways that, so to speak, atten out
the hierarchies between humans and matter: We read the world around us from our embodiness (sic) and being
part of the world, and being in an equal state among other organisms and matter” (p. 40). Here, we—Roselyn,
Colleen, and Erin—found ourselves enmeshed with the clay, the pottery wheel, the water, the movement and with
SEPTEMBER 2022 74 Vol. 47 No. 2
each other, equally positioned, and part of the world.
Figure 5. Entangling with clay.
We sat down to articulate formulations of the way the experiential encounters with clay, thus far, had aected
us. Contagions enable the communication of ideas from one being to another, thereby calling to attention the
signicance of being in relation and of sempiternal interconnectedness. is, a resistance toward the notion of
separateness. We asked: How do we relate to make sense of our surroundings? How do our surroundings relate to the
forces and rhythms around us, in a movement that then infects other intersections and intra-actions? e three of us,
the studio, the pottery wheel, and the clay penetrated and inuenced our bodies, our thoughts, our beings, and our
curiosities, producing multiplicities (Lenz Taguchi, 2011). Despite the individuality of our bodyminds, the three
of us generated a common theme around the feeling of being in movement with clay (Lenz Taguchi, 2011). Each
of us described a feeling of being taken over through motion with clay. Twirling, spinning, circulating, pirouetting.
In a free association manner, each of us began to share whatever came to mind about our past encounters with
clay. is coming together to create was generative in multifarious ways (Geerts et al., 2019, p. 2). We used images
to help us visually see all the ways in which the clay exploration had pollinated our bodies and cognitions until
the empty page then became lled with new becomings (Lenz Taguchi, 2011). Our encounter with clay invited
many multiplicities—images of spinning ballerinas, tornadoes, spin tops, wind, clouds, storms, blowing leaves,
and music—these inspired our desire to be in relation with clay again.
SEPTEMBER 2022 75 Vol. 47 No. 2
“Rather than merely holding representations of
ideas and theories as if ideas are articulated and
then applied to a material, materials provoke
dierent ways of thinking as the child, artist or
maker engages and works with them.
(Kind et al., 2019 para. 8)
Figure 6. Provoking dierent ways of thinking.
Assemblages & entanglements in motion
“e forms of things—of all sorts—are generated in
elds of force and circulation of materials that cut
across any boundaries we might draw between practi-
tioners, materials and the wider environment.
(Ingold, 2013, p. 29)
Figure 7. Assemblages.
SEPTEMBER 2022 76 Vol. 47 No. 2
We returned to the studio, and with a video focusing on the slow, delicate twirling
of a ballerina’s feet projected across the blacked-out shades of the studio space
(WilliamJosephTV, 2016) and a screen near the front of the room playing a video
of a swily rotating tornado (dahsyatnya angin tornado, 2014), we found ourselves
immersed in an assemblage. e juxtaposition of an elegant ballerina against a
destructive tornado resonated and echoed the potter’s wheel—gentle yet chaotic to
the touch. e music of Ólafur Arnald’s (2013) “Only the Winds” played over the
speaker to create a haunting yet mesmerizing ambience to accompany the contagious
videos. With the lights o and fabric suspended from the ceiling and strewn across
the oor, the studio space transformed.
Figure 9. New possibilies waing to emerge.
A fragile yet violent interweaving encircled the space-bodies-minds and led to
a mindful sensitivity to the assemblages that presented themselves in the studio
We then were curious how our bodies would factor in and play along with the
materials present in the studio space. How would music, video, clay, and hands
move together, dance together, create together? What new possibilities were waiting
to emerge? What new ways of knowing and being with clay were waiting to be
discovered in this assemblage?
In this interplay of moving forces, Erins movements with the clay and the wheel
resonate and echo the rhythms of the music and images, each in dialogue with
one another. e morphing of the clay from one thing to another is in response
to what is at play in the assemblage. Each part of the assemblage contaminates
other parts. From the rapid movement of the tornado corresponding with the
speed of the wheel, to Erin’s interaction with clay, something new is emerging and
becoming. In tune with the music, Erins hands curve along the contours of the
Figure 8. The juxtaposion of
an elegant ballerina against the
destrucve tornado.
Figure 10. Erin’s hands curve along
the counters of the clay.
SEPTEMBER 2022 77 Vol. 47 No. 2
clay in a slow, rhythmic motion. Her hands meld with clay, enfolding the grooves and remnants of past encounters.
e rapid repeating whirls of the tornado projected on the screen attract Erins attention. Her eyes xate on the
screen while her hands begin to follow the movements of the tornado. She squeezes the clay between her ngertips
and the inner index of her hands as she ascends and descends the length of the clay. Ripples form on the outward
rim of the clay. Slowly a funnel shape emerges from intersecting movements. e alternating vibrato of the music
amplies the movement of the tornado, changing the ow and force between Erin and the clay. Movement upon
movement the ripples become multiple, and the hole becomes wider. e room appears to sway in motion with
the ows of this rapid becoming.
What do tornados inspire? What did the ballet dancer inspire? ese parts of the assemblage became contagions
mixed in with the movements of the pottery wheel and the clay—hands shaping, music playing. Echoing the
movements and shapes of the tornado and the spinning dancer, motion emerged. ough le still, one could
almost feel as if the clay was still spinning, in motion, as if the movement never stopped. Gazing at them elicited a
still, yet alive, feeling. As if one could still hear the music, the blazing force of the tornado, or the graceful precision
spinning movements of the ballerina.
Erin was not copying the tornado. ere was no preplanned idea. is was not the representation of something. is
was something dierent—the pottery wheel in this case was not used with the intent to make something. Rather it
was a reinvention, a reknowing. What if we were to rethink the way we work with clay at a pottery wheel? How would
creativity take shape? How do music and images aect and eect our interaction with others and materials? What role
can music and images play, if they are not seen only as a way for us to reproduce something?
Figure 11. Interconnectedness.
SEPTEMBER 2022 78 Vol. 47 No. 2
"We are nothing unless we connect to something else.
(Lenz Taguchi, 2011, p. 40)
e studio became an integral part of our being with clay. We thought of the studio as an emergent workshop, a
place of possible ideas, a laboratory, a milieu of experimentation, a place of creating, a place in action (Kind, 2010).
e studio does things to us as we similarly do unto it, eortlessly and without predetermined aims. We thought
of the studio as a gurative and literal transient time machine that moves back and forth.
e studio is never nished, never stopped, and never rmly in one place. e concept of things—animate and
inanimate—sees them always in motion and always changing. What resembled a tornado took over our senses as
we walked into the studio that day to continue with our clay inquiry. ough likely not purposefully positioned,
a round circle shape stood out to us. Blocks were everywhere, some perfectly placed and standing and others
randomly dispersed and scattered as if they had once been standing perfectly. ough it was still, again we felt
movement while observing the room and walking around within the chaos. Liveliness was present. is observed
assemblage brought back to our minds thoughts of tornados and spinning. e added element of destruction also
came to our thoughts. We felt strongly encompassed by tornado in a bodily way.
“e experience of the studio became a moving,
sonorous, gestural, textural, material, improvisational
dance of attention’; a dance of attention that is con-
cerned with the immediacy of mutual action.
(Kind, 2019, p. 9)
Figure 12. Studio.
We purposefully placed the pottery wheel in the centre of the powerful tornados eye, surrounding it with the
tornado’s movement, chaos, and destruction. ough still, being in the middle, one felt motion, a liveliness—
motion coupled with the pottery wheel’s spinning dance.
SEPTEMBER 2022 79 Vol. 47 No. 2
“We can never reect upon some-
thing on our own: to reect means
to interconnect with something.
us, thinking and learning is
always an encounter; something
that ‘hits us’ as we engage with the
w o r l d .”
(Lenz Taguchi, 2011,
p. 46)
Figure 13. In the eye of the tornado.
e projection of a destructive tornado and the accompanying sounds, immersed in the middle of the destruction
of blocks, we found ourselves wrapped up once again in an assemblage, creating an unsettling palpable feeling.
Colleen became part of an assemblage that was continually unfolding. Each component in this composition played
a part, from a slight change in musical tempo to the tap-tap of the potter’s pedal. e intermingling and intersecting
of these elements were part of a constant ow of complementing and opposing forces—wave-like, an in-and-
out dance among the dierent bodies, materials, and more-than-human entities. Colleen was just one of many
movements caught up in the storm. What unfolded was also a swi dismantling of the delusional anthropocentric
narrative. e metaphor of the tornado did not pass over any of us, for in the centre of this tornado, no humans
were to be found. Rather, it was a compilation of multiple forces complementing
and opposing, coming together, creating the funnel in a storm. We were not here
alone. We were not the only bearers of agency.
e palms of Colleen’s hands clasp tightly around the base of the clay as her eyes
are pinned to the tornado. Colleen presses down on the pedal. e wheel picks
up speed, matching that of the tornado. e rapid movement causes the clay to
slip from her hands. e force of the movement leads her to tighten her grip. Her
ngers loosen as the clay repels the pressure of her hold. She propels forward to
regain her control, but the clay pushes back. e slow, soothing rhythm of the piano
in William Josephs (2016) version of “Nothing Else Matters” emerges overhead. Its
notes wrap themselves around Colleen’s hands, causing her to release the pedal.
Slowly the wheel unwinds and together clay and Colleen enter a gestural dance. e
tempo of the music shis, interrupting the dance mid-tune, causing a ri between
Colleen and the wheel. e increase in speed intensies the friction and again the
clay pushes back against her hands.
Figure 14. Colleen became part of
an assemblage.
SEPTEMBER 2022 80 Vol. 47 No. 2
Consumed by the spiralling assemblages that emerged from our exploration
and experimentation with clay, we were le with many more curiosities,
wonderings, doubts, and speculations.
What was our intention? Was it movement? Should this project have been
focused around clay because this class was about materials? Or should it
have focused around the movements emerging from the assemblage? How
can we get to know the clay through our bodies? What would it do to play
a video of a potter’s wheel and engage with fabric? What would it feel like
to be wrapped up in fabric? How would movements change, evolve? What
would happen if we put fabric and clay together? How would fabric factor
in with the assemblage? Spinning—this proponent seems to be singularly
vital for both clay and tornado. What makes the eye of a tornado so special?
How does clay respond to more movement and more water on the pottery
wheel? What about this idea of the middle? A force? More power? How fast
does a tornado spin? How fast does the pottery wheel spin? What are other
ways we could enact this spinning motion? Are there other ways we could
use the pottery wheel to create something else with the spinning motion?
In this space, time takes on labyrinths of spirals. Spirals entwined with bodies and stories of the past and present.
Moments in this space were products of time, bodies, ideas, tensions, and rhythms moving along intersecting and
intra-acting lines. e spiralling videos of tornadoes and ballerinas in synchrony with the reverberating sounds of
the music became embodied in relation with clay on the potter’s wheel.
Just as the funnel of a tornado subsumes anything and everything around it, the assemblages present in the studio
in that particular time subsumed our bodies, materials, ideas, and forces, leaving in their path dierent ways of
knowing and being-with clay. e materials do something to the maker as they relate to the other assemblages in
the room, just as the maker does something to the materials as she relates to the other forces and entities present
at the time—creating an interaction, an intra-activity. It is an event which is uidly in dialogue and in a relational
exchange. e space in-between body and material becomes blurred and intermingles, producing a new way
of knowing and being with one another. rough this dance of exploration on the current of time, this union
of maker and materials induces a natural seeping out of the in-between space of something new, of something
becoming (Kind et al., 2019).
e series of entanglements that unfolded in the choreographies of assemblages in the studio opened an ethical
and participatory space as we encountered clay–bodies–pottery-wheel–music–ballerina–tornado. e diractions
that occurred with each encounter created new multiplicities, new meanings, new becomings; with each collision
we became anew. Orienting ourselves with a relational materialist approach invited us to atten the hierarchies
of the dominant humancentric and anthropocentric logics of being with materials. Rather than outside observers
and/or bystanders of materials, we became one with materials—joining in the push and pull of a slow-moving
dance. Resisting the need for control and allowing for the intra-action of multiple agencies fostered not only new
wonderings and new possibilities, but also new becomings. For curriculum to ourish, to blossom, to become
anew, we need to embrace a renewed conceptualization of materials as artistic languages that are interconnected
and interwoven with everything and everyone—nothing exists without the other.
Figure 15. In the centre of the tornado's eye.
SEPTEMBER 2022 81 Vol. 47 No. 2
Arndalds, Ó. (Creator). (2013, May 6). Only the winds [YouTube video].
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke University Press.
Brown, S., Siegel, L., & Blom, S. (2020). Entanglements of matter and meaning: e importance of the philosophy of Karen Barad for
environmental education. Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 36(3), 219–233.
dahsyatnya angin tornado. (2014). Excerpt from the lm Into the Storm, uploaded by N. Chanel August 14, 2016 [YouTube video].
Geerts, E., & Carstens, D. (2019). Ethico-onto-epistemology. Philosophy Today, 63(4), 915–925.
Ingold, T. (2013). Making: anthropology, archeology, art, and architecture. Routledge.
Kind, S. (2010). Art encounters: Movements in the visual arts and early childhood education. In V. Pacini-Ketchabaw (Ed.), Flows,
rhythms, and intensities of early childhood education curriculum (pp. 95–109). Peter Lang.
Kind, S. (2017). Studio as a dance together. Handout from the studio workshop at the ECEBC conference, Richmond BC, May 2017.
Kind, S., & Argent, A. (2019). Fabricating: Fabric uidities and studio encounters. In B. D. Hodgins (Ed.), Feminist research for 21st-
century childhoods: Common worlds methods. Bloomsbury Academic.
Kind, S., Vintimilla, C. D., & Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (2018). Material choreographies: Fabric as a living language of exchange. Innovations
in Early Education, 25(3). e International Reggio Exchange.
Lenz Taguchi, H. (2011). Investigating learning, participation and becoming in early childhood practices with a relational materialist
approach. Global Studies of Childhood, 1(1), 36–50.
Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Kind, S., & Kocher, L. M. (2017). Encounters with materials in early childhood education. Routledge.
Poitras-Pratt, Y., & Gladue, K. (2022). Re-dening academic integrity: Embracing Indigenous truths. In S. Eaton & J. C. Hughes (Eds.),
Academic integrity in Canada (pp. 103–123). Springer.
Taylor, A., Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., & Blaise, M. (2012). Children’s relations with the more-than-human world. Contemporary Issues in Early
Childhood, 13(2), 81.
Todd, Z. (2016). An Indigenous feminist’s take on the ontological turn: “Ontology” is just another word for colonialism. Journal of
Historical Sociology, 29(1), 4–22.
WilliamJosephTV. (2016, May 23). Nothing else matters—Metallica—William Joseph feels the rain [YouTube video].
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Despite historical and ongoing challenges, Canada has been making promising strides towards reconciliation prompted in large part by the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015). We honour our Indigenous Elders and Ancestors who have led social and educational movements that named and resisted the negative outcomes created and continued by a Canadian colonial history. The authors point to current institutional projects of decolonizing and Indigenizing the academy as holding the potential to re-define what academic integrity means. As a hopeful point of entry into how teaching and learning scholars might reconsider current conceptions of integrity, we see Indigenizing efforts across a number of Canadian universities as the basis from which to speak to a more inclusive and wholistic definition of academic integrity. The authors seek to problematize the current neoliberal and commercialized approaches to education where different forms of academic misconduct arise as inevitable outcomes. If education is viewed as the pursuit of truth, or more appropriately truths, then it is essential to nuance the scope of academic integrity to include Indigenous perspectives such as wholism and interconnectedness . In this chapter, we discuss these truths, challenging current conceptions, to propose a more inclusive definition of academic integrity by drawing upon Indigenous scholarship as well as dynamic forms of ancestral language to situate our work. In sum, sharing truths through the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives grounds the scholarly discussion in an equitable understanding of truth-telling as foundational to academic integrity.
Full-text available
Download link (full issue will be made open access soon):
Full-text available
In this neoliberal era of productivity agendas and hyper-individualism, we think it timely to be offering a themed issue that spotlights children’s relations to the more-than-human world. Not only are we delighted by the fact that children’s relations with the more-than-human world deliver no measurable economic outcomes, we hold out additional hope that by paying these relations more attention, we can do our bit to defuse the human-centric conceits of rampant individualism. As a collection, these articles take on the decidedly modern western axiom of individual autonomy
Full-text available
Schooling is a significant feature of social experience for children in many countries around the world. However, despite the massive technological, social, economic, environmental and political changes that have occurred during the past few decades, pedagogic approaches in many educational systems appear to have changed relatively little over time. There has been much criticism of traditional schooling practices which have remained constant and unchanging in these times of unprecedented changes. Scholars of education have posed questions about the relevance of long-standing practices to children who live in global economies in the twenty-first century, querying why such practices continue to be replicated without due consideration of the diversity of cultural and social conditions that exist in these new situations, and asking whether alternative pedagogic models and schooling practices might be more relevant to the lives of millennial children living globalized lives. In this article I both welcome and critique two increasingly popular pedagogic approaches - the learning study approach and the Reggio Emilia approach - that have been taken up in schools and classrooms in a range of countries, arguing that these two approaches reproduce dominant binaries associated with modern liberal humanist education. Finally, I consider how a relational materialist approach might offer an alternative approach that attends more seriously to the interdependencies, responsibilities and potentialities that characterize global childhoods.
The rich and innovative ideas of quantum physicist and feminist theorist Karen Barad have much to offer environmental educators in terms of practical theories for teaching and learning. This article shares insights gained from a facilitated conversation at the Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) Conference Research Symposium, and offers an introduction to Barad’s theories for environmental educators. At this time of challenging planetary imperatives, environmental education is increasingly called upon to contribute to students’ understanding of connectedness, and Barad’s theory of agential realism provides a way to think about, articulate and engage with connectedness as inherent within the world rather than something we need to create. By considering entanglement as a fundamental state, we understand that separateness is not the original state of being. This shift in perspective supports a subtle yet powerful approach to knowledge, communication and collaboration, understanding difference as integral within the world’s entangled becoming. The convened conversation sought to explore Barad’s thinking by defining and discussing the concepts of agential realism , intra-action , material-discursivity , phenomena and diffraction . Barad’s ideas were used to collectively explore what it means to be intraconnected and entangled in today’s world, and specifically how these concepts and experiences relate to our work and lives as environmental educators and researchers.
Encounters with Materials in Early Childhood Education rearticulates understandings of materials-blocks of clay, sheets of paper, brushes and paints-to formulate what happens when we think with materials and apply them to early childhood development and classrooms. The book develops ways of thinking about materials that are more sustainable and insightful than what most children in the Western world experience today through capitalist narratives. Through a series of ethnographic events and engagement with existing ideas of relationality in the visual arts, feminist ethics, science studies, philosophy, and anthropology, Encounters with Materials in Early Childhood Education highlights how materials can be conceptualized as active participants in early childhood education and generators of human insight. A variety of examples show how educators, young children, and researchers have engaged in thinking with materials in early years classrooms and explore what materials are capable of in their encounters with other materials and with children. Please visit the companion website at for additional features, including interviews with the authors and the teachers featured in the book, videos and photographs of the classroom narratives described in these pages, and an ongoing blog of the authors’ ethnographic notes.
Making offers a series of profound reflections on what it means to create things, on materials and form, the meaning of design, landscape perception, animate life, personal knowledge and the work of the hand. It draws on examples and experiments ranging from prehistoric stone tool-making to the building of medieval cathedrals, from round mounds to monuments, from flying kites to winding string, from drawing to writing. The book will appeal to students and practitioners alike, with interests in social and cultural anthropology, archaeology, architecture, art and design, visual studies and material culture.
In this article, I ask how anthropology can adopt a decolonial approach that incorporates and acknowledges the critical scholarship of Indigenous thinkers whose work and labour informs many current trends in Euro-Western scholarship, activism and socio-political discourse. I also query how to address ongoing structural colonialism within the academy in order to ensure that marginalised voices are heard within academic discourses.