Collaborative Meaning-making in Arts-based Research: Data Interpretation with an Artist, a Physician, and an Art Historian


  • Kaisu Koski HKU University of the Arts Utrecht
  • Fenna Heyning Director Association of Tertiary Medical Teaching Hospitals, Utrecht
  • Robert Zwijnenberg Centre for the Arts in Society, Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University



arts-based research, collaborative meaning-making, anatomical drawing, female reproductive system, medical student, playful association, improvisation, humor, embarrassment


This article discusses collaborative meaning-making in arts-based research. It introduces a project in which an artist-researcher invited a physician and an art historian to help to interpret medical students’ hand-made drawings of the female reproductive system and the conception process. The authors elaborated on different viewpoints and modes of talking during the data interpretation, and discussed how these were founded on, and disrupted, their professional roles in various ways. The article discusses how these different viewpoints about the students’ drawings complemented or conflicted with each other. It also discusses the use of associations and humor in these interpretations, and the experiences of emotional discomfort during the process.

Author Biographies

Kaisu Koski, HKU University of the Arts Utrecht

Kaisu Koski is a Finnish artist and researcher, based in the Netherlands. She graduated from the Faculty of Art and Design in the University of Lapland and the Amsterdam School of the Arts, studying media and performance art. In 2007 Kaisu earned her doctoral degree by defending her dissertation on interactive performances in the University of Lapland. Since 2010 Kaisu has been affiliated with the Research Centre Performative Processes in the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. Kaisu’s art practice is intertwined with academic research, focusing on the dialogue between art and medicine, and the methodology of arts-based research. Between 2011-2013 she conducted a postdoctoral research project, exploring the various representations of the body in medical education. The Academy of Finland recently awarded Kaisu an Academy Research Fellow funding for 2015-2020 in the Centre for Practice as Research in Theatre in the University of Tampere. This project investigates and produces arts-based trigger videos for problem-based learning in medical curricula in Finland, Denmark and US.

Robert Zwijnenberg, Centre for the Arts in Society, Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University

Professor of art history


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The animation Not to scale at all can be viewed at:




How to Cite

Koski, K., Heyning, F., & Zwijnenberg, R. (2016). Collaborative Meaning-making in Arts-based Research: Data Interpretation with an Artist, a Physician, and an Art Historian. Art/Research/International:/A/Transdisciplinary/Journal, 1(1), 234–257.