William Scott Wallace, Ph.D. is a 2008 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Carolyn Kenny, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Patricia Cranton, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Laurien Alexandre, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • John Dirkx, Ph.D., External Reader


transformative learning, middle-age, portraiture, artists, phenomenology, Jungian psychology, midlife, depth psychology, life change

Document Type


Publication Date



This study explores art as a transformative learning process at mid-life. As adults individuate as they develop into middle age and move towards integration, they may experience transformative learning, a process that can lead to a much broader and deeper life view. Most studies have viewed transformative learning as a process that occurs through critical reflection, (Mezirow, 1991, 2000), possible disorienting dilemmas, (Mezirow, 1991, 2000, and Daloz, 2000), influence of personality type (Cranton, 1994), soulfulness (Dirkx), and other means of awareness. While researchers acknowledge the possibilities of experiencing transformative learning through the arts, a review of the empirical literature reveals a dearth of studies in this area. This qualitative research study uses the art and science of portraiture, a phenomenologically based method that brings art and science together, through the development of a co-created narrative portrait of the research participants. McConeghey (2003) speaks of how it is that we make art with Psyche's help, thus creating a soulful experience. Art can lead us to and through transformative learning. The intent of this research is to come into a deeper understanding of the role that the arts can play in transformative learning at mid-life. The research approach selected to discover this understanding was portraiture, an approach that combines empiricism and aesthetics. In this method, the researcher acts as an artist who paints word portraits, and interprets and analyzes these portraits for emergent themes that will help to illuminate essential elements of the research topics and questions. Results from the research indicate that the three participants seemed to have experienced transformative learning during mid-life. Many of their experiences were similar while some unique to the individual. Data collected included field notes, transcribed audio/video recordings, interviews, follow-up email dialogue, telephone conversations, art works and written reflections from the participants and the research author of the study. The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible at the OhioLINK ETD Center,