Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

PR Society of America PRESENTATION – what not to do

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 12, 2009 at 4:17 am

I forgot how much I enjoy doing a presentation.

I had the best time on Wednesday with the Public Relations Society of America.

Just to pass on some highlights – I talked about the similarity between public speaking and acting- and I want to make some comments on what I observed and learned.

I noticed people using microphones when they didn’t need to and improperly at that – too close to their mouths and poping their P’s.  And Power Point. I can’t believe it’s still being used and in such volumes.  Listening to the speaker and reading the power points just put me off, so I left.  The secret to power points is less is more.  I worked with a speaker from Intel and she was going overseas to do an important presentation on a new product and had to preview it for her department before she went.   23 power points had her by the throat until I told her to forget them and write the speech she wanted and then pick 5 to support it. A sigh of relief and work that ended in clarity was the result.

I also watched a speaker rattle off important information with no attention paid to voice, or contact to audience. Everyone was writing down everything on the screen and also trying to write down what was said. What’s the point? Why not just read it in a book or on line and ask questions on line. Why the need to have an actual speaker there? And what will be remembered? All that writing I guess. But do you check all your notes? Well someone asked if they could get the information on line and yes they could so the writing stopped. But the cell phone texting began. I know when I’ve made notes in the past I was writing as quickly as I could and not paying attention and when re-reading my notes at a later date, I only understood about half of them.

No stories where told to help people remember the theme or a particular point. I know some of it was technical. After all it was about digital communication. Still, a word, an anecdote, a gesture, a moment that the audience could have taken away to remember the most important part or parts of what they learned would have helped and broken up the monotony.

A lot of learning happened and I’m glad I can remember some of it. If I wanted more, I guess I could have bought the books on sale.

I was, however, gratified to find that audience members for – Powerful Communication Using Acting Skills – came up to tell me they received a lot of information they could use.  I made certain that if they were writing something down, I stopped and kept up with them.  I made certain that eye communication was happening at all times.  I made certain that I was listening.  I made sure that I was painting striking pictures to take away and think about and use to create a  new way of communicating for each of them.   I made sure I was present, present, present. After all it is all about the audience.

Digesting the World: A Table, A Chair

In Art, Author: Amy Frazier, Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 10, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I’m working on my first paper for the creativity program that I mentioned earlier. The assignment: to research an aspect of creativity and how it applies to my professional life. The subject I chose to write about is the relationship of the physical self (and our awareness of our embodiment) to the creative act. In my research, I stumbled upon an account of an artist’s work that won’t let me go.

I found it in an article by David Peat, called “The Alchemy of Creativity: Art, Consciousness and Embodiment.” Peat proposes that creativity works like the alembic chamber of the alchemist, where there exists “an indivisible cyclical movement of projection and internalization, one of making manifest within the realm of the physical and then of ingestion, in coded or symbolic form, back into the world of the mental.”

Peat graphically expands upon the reference to ingestion in his description of the work of artist Janine Antoni, who has created art works consisting of lard and chocolate (600 pounds of each), which she has chewed up, spat out, and then reformed into lipsticks and chocolate bars. Peat says that Antoni has wondered aloud to him about the possibility of chewing up a table, spitting it out, combining it with her skin and hair, and then rebuilding the table.

The image of an ingested, semi-digested table becoming mingled with the spit and skin of a woman, has haunted me in the past few days. I note that Antoni doesn’t seem to want to swallow the table—not really eat it, just masticate it, pulp it up, melange the fibers with her digestive juices, just shy of complete absorption.

So now I’m wondering: after the taking in, and the transforming, and the act of putting our work back out there into the world, what have we fully digested? If I’m interested in the role of embodiment, to what degree might I really mean in-body-ment?  Does it depend upon what’s on the menu, what’s being in/di-gested? Because, if we’re talking about taking the world (and all its various renderings) into an alchemical, transformational, alembic-wrapped oogedy-boogedy,  you have to admit: there’s a big difference between chewing 600 pounds of lard and the same amount of chocolate…

Ultimately, I think my fascination with Antoni’s work is the length to which she goes. She offers a challenge, which has gotten under my skin. How far do I go? I know I hope to be transformed by the work I put out into the world. But how would I feel about pulling splinters out of my tongue?

Perhaps this is a challenge one works up to.

Would someone please pass me the chair?

I Have a Student

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2009 at 4:06 am

I have a student who really Gets It. The internship idea, I mean. Last time, I introduced readers of Entrepreneur the Arts to the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate School Internship. That piece was about the incarnation of a vision of education as it is taking form at one major research university: The University of Texas at Austin. But, as I intimated then, much remains to be done. What works well in one context does not always translate readily to the next; what responds to exigencies and needs of one audience does not necessarily provide the same solutions for another. I mentioned in my last post that, having moved now into a faculty position at Northern Illinois University, the challenge before me is becoming clear:

 

How can I use intellectual entrepreneurship to respond to the needs of this institution? How can I implement that philosophy of research, education, and community engagement? What resources might I provide based on what I have learned?

 

Bit o’ Context: My department has a curricular feature that it calls the Communication Practicum. For better or worse, the catalogue description of this course is broad; the specifics are subject to negotiation and agreement between the student who enrolls and the professor with whom the student collaborates. …Hmmm… collaborates? Most commonly, the Practicum assumes the form of a teaching or research assistantship. Undergraduate students assist with data collection, gathering library materials, transcription, note-taking, course preparation, and so on. And that’s great. If the student plans on post-graduate education (grad school, law school, business school, etc.) or pursuing a teaching career. But what about the vast majority of the students, the ones whose eyes are set on a “Real Job”?

 

For months now, I have been mulling it over. How can I use the Practicum structure for the purpose of an intellectual entrepreneurship internship? How will this round fit into the square? This is an opportunity! I don’t have to try to change an entire institutional culture after nine months on the job! (as if I could, right? Or even wanted to, really, in any radical sense…) All I have to do if offer what I know about innovation and exploration via an existing delivery mechanism. To this one student. And the marvel of it is, he totally gets it!

 

Bill (that’s not his real name) and I met in my office to discuss. Well, first I drew up a kind of handout/contract to specify what I had in mind for the Practicum:

 

The practicum provides an opportunity for students to work closely with a faculty supervisor exploring their professional, academic, and personal commitments and goals. The course objective is a strategic and well-researched plan for the future based on a few key questions: Where are you currently in your college career? What can you do to make the most of your remaining time at NIU? What do you plan to do when you graduate?

 

Students who wish to work with me during this experience should expect something considerably more student-driven than a teaching- or research assistantship; this practicum requires time management, individual initiative, follow-through on personal responsibilities, engagement and ambition. According to departmental guidelines, students enrolled should anticipate working, on average, three hours per week during the 15-week semester (45 hours total).

 

Throughout the semester each student compiles an individualized Final Portfolio: a compilation of materials relevant to his/her interests and aspirations; this portfolio is due at the end of the semester of enrollment. Students earn either a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory grade based on part on the completion of the portfolio.

 

Bill came into my office with a look of excitement and relief. And maybe a hint of surprise. As we talked, it became apparent that the surprise was a reaction to my unexpected approach—I asked him what he wanted to do. The relief was a reaction to discovering that he wouldn’t have to be my TA. And the excitement was a slowly creeping realization that this Practicum really could be useful. And exactly what he needs! Who knew he could get that at school?!

 

Bill wants to go into sales. He’s been working for a company for several years, putting himself through college. And sales is what he wants to pursue when he graduates. Insurance, to be exact. So based on his interests and experiences, Bill and I made a list of tasks and projects that I would complete as part of his Practicum: interview several people with industry experience, research licensing procedures and required credentials (materials to be organized in a portfolio), revise and update his resume and a cover letter, and a few other “to do’s.”

 

During the conversation, I was thinking: This guy was an intellectual entrepreneur the moment he walked in. He is the driving force in this internship, I’m just the facilitator—exactly as it ought to be.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a cynic. That is, I am not one of those teachers who assumes a priori that her students wouldn’t get it. But I’ve had plenty of experiences with “good students” who do not. “Good students” have often perfected the skills required to do well in a university setting. They check off graduation requirements and get As. And they resist change; they dislike ambiguity; they do not choose autonomy. So they miss out on some of the discoveries that Bill—not your typical honors student—will undoubtedly make. And that’s why working with him, advising his experience of the New and Improved (spoken like a Colgate advertisement announcer) Intellectual Entrepreneurship Practicum!!!

The Creative City, According to Florida

In Author: Adam Shames on May 9, 2009 at 1:10 am

I came back from a little incubation period in Florida to visit with another, this one Richard, the economist and best-selling author of the 2002 Rise of the Creative Class, which examined the growing social class of creative people (see video below) who are central to the economy. Rich Florida is another compelling voice in our ride toward the United States of Creativity, arguing that “creativity is the fundamental source of economic growth, and that it is an essential part of everyone’s humanity that needs to be cultivated.” He examines this new Creative Age from a particular expert angle: that of place and, in particular, the city.

When talented and creative people come together, he explains, they optimize and magnify each other’s productivity, which drives economic development. His new book Who’s Your City? further explores social science evidence of factors that make a city thrive, which he has described as the three Ts: Technology, Talent and Tolerance.

All three Ts are necessary, and it is the final one, tolerance, that perhaps is most important for city planners to understand. By tolerance he means diversity, and when a city is truly open to diverse cultures and ideas, Florida explains, they are more likely to become innovation hubs. Using different measures such as the Tolerance Index, Gay Index and Bohemian Index, he found the cities with the best creative economies attract and offer opportunities for people of different races, countries of origin, sexual orientation–and have the most openness to self-expression. Places that have a flourishing artistic and cultural environment “are the ones that generate creative economic outcomes and overall economic growth.”

“I like to tell city leaders,” he writes, “that finding ways to help support a local music scene can be just as important as investing in high-tech business and far more effective than building a downtown mall.”

Hmmm, not only should you embrace your originality and inner-hippie, so should your mayor…

Inward Artist, Outward Artist

In Author: David Cutler, Entrepreneurial Tool Box on May 9, 2009 at 12:43 am

My last posting stressed the importance of becoming a “you, you, you” outward artist, as opposed to a “me, me, me” inward artist. The attitude you adopt affects every aspect of your artistic life, from product development and projects pursued to marketing and sales. Which kind of artist are you?

Please note: though feminine pronouns are used below, neither category is limited by gender!

THE INWARD ARTIST:

THE OUTWARD ARTIST:

Makes art to show off her talent. Makes art to help the world become a better place in some small way.
Delivers work of that is personally interesting, with no consideration of the audience. Delivers work that will also resonate with the audience, considering their unique background, experiences, and interests. Program themes are often connected to community interests, current events, popular hobbies, social issues, educational objectives, solving problems, etc.
Ignores the audience perspective. Doesn’t really think about what it’s like to witness her event—she just makes the art. Prioritizes the audience perspective. She considers how the event will look, sound, and feel, contemplating the psychological journey spectators will traverse.
Favors art that is fun to produce. Favors art that is fun to experience.
Is often surprised that events last longer than expected. Times events in advance. She is careful not to impose “too much of a good thing.”
Ignores viewers during performances. Engages viewers through dialogue, banter, humor, and/or interactive activities.
Hides out during intermission and flees after the show finale. Mingles with fans at every opportunity, continuing and building relationships.
Focuses post-event dialogue on herself: her mistakes, accomplishments, and vision. Focuses post-event dialogue on her fans: your experience, thoughts, and interests.
Shows self-interest in conversations, sharing a lot of answers. Shows curiosity in conversations, asking a lot of questions.
Is largely inflexible, insisting on optimal conditions at every turn. Bends over backwards to accommodate employers and enthusiasts.
Produces promotional materials that read like laundry lists of accomplishments. Others are impressed by how much she’s done and how phenomenal she is. Produces promotional materials that establish credibility, but also show how her art will benefit you.
Focuses job and grant application letters on how the opportunity will benefit her. Emphasizes how her employment/project would benefit the institution or community.
Pursues “vanity” projects. Pursues projects valuable to others.
Networks only to get ahead. Also networks to extend a helping hand, understanding that relationships go both ways.
Locks herself in a practice room or art studio ad nauseum, with few outside interests. Cares about the world at large, staying informed about current events, industry trends, community affairs, social causes, etc.
Gripes that nobody cares about her art form. Actively creates projects that are relevant and intriguing. (Because of this approach, people absolutely care about her art form!)
Prioritizes becoming a great artist. Also prioritizes being a great human being.
Aspires to amaze people with her high level talent. Aspires to make a true difference and leave lasting legacies.

Is it any wonder that outward artists experience much greater levels of success?

The Power of Partnerships

In Author: Melissa Snoza, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 6, 2009 at 9:31 am

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Chicago Arts Educators Forum event, titled “What is a Partnership?” CAEF is a fantastic new organization sponsored by the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, and formed by two like-minded Directors of Education: Merissa Shunk from Adventure Stage Chicago and Nicole Losurdo from The Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University.

As the title would suggest, this was a day full of workshops centered around building successful partnerships in education. Lectures were led by accomplished experts, and breakout sessions gave smaller groups of participants the opportunity to explore topics in greater detail.

One of the most interesting breakout sessions I attended focused on this question:

What do we learn as organizations from partnering across disciplines?

Because cross-disciplinary collaboration is central to the mission of Fifth House, this is a subject that our staff explores on a daily basis. Participants wondered, “How do I select an effective collaborative partner? How do we split up our tasks? Who’s in charge? What if we have different work styles/speeds? How do we make these two art forms work together? Why bother doing this in the first place – it’s so much work!”

Why bother?

It’s the concept of 1 + 1 = MORE. When two organizations/people/artists/genres/subjects come together effectively, the result is usually more than the sum if its parts would suggest. Think of how your favorite scene in any movie would be without its soundtrack. Dry as toast? The music sets the mood, inspires emotion, and heightens the intensity of the scene. Put it all together, and you’re out of Kleenex.

From an educational standpoint, as many of the teaching artists and organizations participating in CAEF can attest to, arts integration in the classroom allows students to connect to core subjects and to the art form in deeper, more meaningful ways than if each were presented separately. These collaborations between artists and classroom teachers support diversity in learning, reaching students who were previously not engaged through more conventional means.

So, we know it’s worth it. But, the process is a challenge – often we see two groups of people who speak different languages, and even with the best of intentions, it can be difficult to iron out the logistics of making the planning stages run smoothly. Where do we begin?

First, find the right partner. The want ad for a collaborative partner would be daunting at best. You’re looking for an organization that achieves excellence in its art at the highest possible level. And, in most cases, organizations don’t form partnerships – people do. So, you’re looking for an individual who you…LIKE! You’ll be spending a lot of time with this person, so it should be someone who is open, responsive, and has a sense of humor (at least in a perfect world). It should be someone who answers your emails and phone calls in a timely enough fashion (read: not a time suck), and who is genuinely excited about the mutual end goal.

You’ve found your partner. How do you decide who does what, and who is in charge? Figure out what each organization brings to the party, and let them do what they do best without trying to fit them into a mold. The most successful artistic collaborations I’ve participated in resulted from the process of allowing artists to run with a general idea first, without too many boundaries or suggestions.

As an example, if we’re working with a dance company or a visual artist, it is not my place as a musician to dictate exactly what I want them to produce. We can start with a general concept, but in the best case we give the collaborative artist the freedom to take the ball as far as they want to run with it, then we merge back together once they’ve created something they are proud to call their own. Often, we come up with a project that is in many ways completely different from what we would have imagined ourselves, yet infinitely better.

In the classroom, we may come into a curriculum-integrated residency with some ideas in mind, but we generally have the teacher we are working with lay out some of the general learning goals and framework of the unit prior to collaborating on the design of our activities. They are, after all, the experts, and they know their audience better than we do. It’s at that point that we sit down together to answer the question, “how can music help students to better understand ocean ecosystems?”

Having a true partnership, rather than one organization that sub-contracts another, takes a significant amount of planning time. There are reasons that it takes us a year to program each subscription series we do prior to the first note we play, and most of them have to do with the increased amount of learning and communication that have to happen between organizations and disciplines. You have to know your partner and their strengths, and understand their timeframes in order to be successful.

As one of the keynote speakers pointed out, it is possible, and often a great experience, to work with a partner who is in some ways “difficult.” You may find an artist or organization who is phenomenal at what they do, but the partnership is limited by personality differences or work styles. These can still function as long as there is a way to find common ground, much in the same way as those of us who do PR work need to learn how each media contact prefers to be reached, and how NOT to call them when they are on deadline.

But, don’t get pulled into working with an organization that proves to be a time suck – one that doesn’t return calls, ignores emails, falls through repeatedly on commitments, and in general proves to be unreliable. This is an investment that never pays off, and the product always reflects the process.

In short, do what you do best, and allow others to do what they do best. Learn from each other, and keep your mind open to the new possibilities that arise – this is, after all, why you wanted to collaborate in the first place. Thanks again to CAEF for a great day of discussion – looking forward to the next session in October!

Melissa is the flutist and Executive Director of the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble. Like what you read here? For more music entrepreneurship tidbits, visit www.playingclosetothebridge.wordpress.com, brought to you by members of 5HE.

Craving Voice Art Project for Social Change Part 1

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2009 at 11:14 pm

CRAVING VOICE:
A RETROSPECTIVE ANALYSIS OF THE HEALING EFFECTS
CREATED BY AN ART PROJECT FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

The following article is a explanation of the use of a painting used to facilitate healing. The specific focus is on a single painting: “Craving Voice,” which was created at a moment in the past as a way to express the forces at work in the experiences of addicts at a treatment center. The painting is described through the artist’s narrative of the creative process, reported feedback, and behavioral changes noticed in participants by the artist. These observations are then related to previous research and theories in psychology, particularly from a humanistic perspective. This reflective analysis helps clarify which elements are effective for healing. Such elements include: communication, empathy, respect, and increased access to information. In addition, the subversive nature of art, which makes it a useful method of social change, can in itself effect healing. By using art to express that which is unspoken, the unconscious of the addicts and the collective unconscious of the system that treats them is revealed.

“That is exactly how I feel,” says a 34-year-old man in work clothes who sits across from me as I take a sip from my morning cup of coffee in a small drug clinic. He is looking intently at the painting on the wall.
“Who made that?”
“I did,” I reply.
“You did?” he says incredulously.
“Yup.”
“About us,” he persists.
“Yup.”
We sit for a few moments appreciating each other before we continue with the counseling session.
Brief exchanges analogous to this contain what many therapists work to achieve, the seed of trust. Trust is one of the many healing effects that were created through the project called “Craving Voice.” The elements of the project that helped create the potential of this moment will be discussed in the following article.
In this project, I used the process of interviewing to gather information about a small population of opiate addicts in recovery.  This information was used to create a painting that was later displayed to the entire community of the clinic.
The process used in this project is not unique to this particular example. Nayo Watkins, an artist, creates theatre scripts from community stories, which are put on by community members to increase awareness of relevant issues (Hamilton, 2000, para. 6-7). Although Watkins’s medium differs from the one I used in “Craving Voice,” both the process and the effects are similar.
Other artists, who have also used art to create social change, include Lucy Lippard, Susan Lacy, Luis Valdez, Amiri Baraka, Karen Finely, Adrienne Piper, Adrienne Reich, and Alice Walker. Each one of these individuals believes that art is his or her most effective means of communicating with the public about social issues. Anthologies such as Reimaging of America: The arts of social change (O’Brien & Little, 1990), Mapping the Terrain (Lacy, 1995), The Subversive Imagination: artist, society and social responsibility (Becker, 1994), and Mixed Blessings (Lippard, 1990), all describe the work and opinions of these artists. These books also illustrate the work of groups who use art to effect social change. Some of these groups include: Gran Fury, the entire cast of characters that helped produce Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues (1998), The Gorilla Girls, the production crew for The Laramie Project (2001), Raging Grannies, and Bread and Puppet. These groups work together to effect social change. For example, the Raging Grannies use song and humor to protest social injustices. Larger organizations — for example, Arts for Democracy and the Community Arts Network — are designed to develop projects, promote artists, and support research in the use of art for social change.
Art that is made to effect social change and art made to effect healing are not necessarily one in the same. Art created to effect social change is not always useful to effect healing. Sometimes, art projects of this nature are more like ripping the scab off of a cut. Other times, they are the punch to the stomach of the neighborhood bully. These pieces effect change through art-induced wake-up calls posed as confrontational visions. This is not to say that art projects that effect social change cannot be healing, or that the previously mentioned artists and groups are not related to healing. They quite frequently are. However, this article is not designed to debate which projects are considered healing. It is designed to increase understanding of how projects of this type might be successful in effecting healing, and thereby, how they might be understood and utilized by the psychological community.
As mentioned above, change cannot be directly equated with healing. I change my socks. At a certain point, this might become a healing event, but most times it remains just a change. Healing implies, in the words of Maslow, change that is “growth fostering” rather than “growth inhibiting” (Lyons, 2002, p. 626). Another humanistic psychologist might articulate healing as one becoming more of oneself and therefore existing more fully in the world (Rogers, 1977). Art that heals, by this definition, would have to facilitate a change in an individual or a group that makes the individual or the group become more fully itself and part of the world. Understanding the healing elements of an art project that creates social change can both increase the effectiveness of this type of action, as well as offer the psychological community one more method of supporting positive change.
Some artists whose contributions have shown that they have made healing the main emphasis of their work are Gabriella Roth, Anna Halprin, Alex Grey, and Ilchi Lee. Suzi Gablick in her book, The Reenchantment of Art (1998), critiques the practices of the art world and discusses alternate methods for the creation of art. She included descriptions of art projects that are intended to heal which exist throughout the United States (Gablick, 1998). Organizations such as The Arts in Healthcare, the Survivors Art Foundation, and Arte Sana, in addition to websites such as The Healing Arts Network, attempt to create opportunities and promote the work of healing artists. For example, the Survivors Art Foundation creates opportunities for artists, while attempting to support survivors of sexual abuse through works of art. The Survivors Art Foundation is an example of how art that effects social change can be healing. Change is effected through the awareness generated about sexual abuse by the foundation. However, survivors of abuse, through the creation of art, receive healing benefit. Healing is extended to other survivors of abuse when viewing the art. The chain of healing is continued through the support the foundation gives to other healing artists to continue their work. Despite the effectiveness that has been demonstrated by groups like this, I have yet to see psychologically based literature that examines this type of work and the artists who do it, even though projects of this type have been documented in other branches of thought, particularly within the field of sociology (Mittlefehldt, 1990; Petty, 2001; Swartzman, 1998).
The psychological community’s contributions to the study of the arts are diverse in form. Many influential psychologists have discussed aspects of art and creativity (Freud, 1989, p. 436-543; Kris, 1962; Maslow, 1954, p.158-168; May, 1975, p. 36-94), but few have discussed its potential as a healing agent. Jung is by far the most notable. Jung’s inquiries, which covered both active imagination (Jung, 1997) and extensive observations on the nature of symbols, including the function of myth (Jung, 1964; 1990), were explorations of art as a potential healing agent rather than art as a diagnostic tool. Art as a diagnostic tool, grounded in theory, based on determining dysfunctional elements, was a more common approach of psychologists such as Freud and Kris (Freud, 1989; Kris, 1962). This diagnostic perspective can still be seen in portions of the practice of art therapy.
Theories such as those of Jung, May, and Maslow, developed the two branches of art-as-therapy known as expressive arts therapy and art therapy. The philosophical and theoretical orientation of expressive artists makes their work useful in understanding the healing effects of a project for social change. The expressive arts are well represented by names such as Sean McNiff, Natalie Rogers, and Michael Samuels. Each, from his or her own perspective, helps to define how art can be used as a therapeutic process. McNiff’s (1989) origins in depth psychology, Natalie Rogers’ (1997) grounding in humanistic practices, and Samuels’s (1998) medical orientation influence each one’s view on how the expressive arts can be used to heal. These expressive artists also contribute to the broader picture of the usefulness of art as a therapeutic modality.
Both May and Maslow stressed the importance of creativity as an essential ingredient of human growth (Maslow, 1954; May, 1975).  Marc Runco and Steven Pritzker contributed to this area by defining the elements of creativity in their two-volume work Encyclopedia of Creativity (Runco & Pritzker (Eds.), 1999). Understanding the nature and human necessity of creativity allows one to comprehend some important nuances of how art can be healing. In addition, Maslow’s (1954) writings on organizations, Rogers’ (1977) writings on both education and social change, when added to recent research by organizational psychologists, could be highly supportive of understanding the elements that are essential to this type of work.
Despite this, there is insufficient documentation about the use of art to effect healing within projects employed to create social change. This lack can most clearly seen in the shortage of material discussing the possible relevance or importance that this type of project has for both the general public and the psychological community. However, within these texts, there are key pieces for understanding what components make art-for-change projects healing. For example, the connection between contemporary art practices, ritual, and religious art forms is fertile ground to understand why art is a particularly effective medium through which to evoke both healing and change with people on multiple levels (Campbell, 1988; Jung, 1964, 1990; Lippard, 1983; Turner, 1977). This is just one of many connections that can be made, but the only one that will be alluded to because of the brevity of this article. Art’s historical function of connecting us to basic universal energies should, in my opinion, create the desire for psychologists to understand art as a means of social change and healing and perhaps integrate it into their many methods.
In this article, I assert that particular elements make art projects that are oriented towards creating social change successful at effecting healing. Although many healing agents can be found, some appear more effective than others. These elements, in my opinion, can best be described as humanistic values (Hazler & Kottler, 1999, p. 355). This point of view has also been explored. Natalie Rogers (1997) uses humanistic approaches to create and facilitate a method of expressive arts. She explores the combination of various artistic techniques that can work as a catalyst for deeper understanding of self and the world. Her workshops demonstrate the way the group process and art can be combined to make societal issues more comprehensible and therefore addressable. Humanistic values have been found to be effective in organizations attempting to facilitate social change. Lyons portrays humanistic principles as supportive agents in the efficacy of social change organizations (Lyons, 2001, p. 625-634). In the “Craving Voice” project, it is the humanistic principles that appear both to hold together and to create the most widespread and effective dynamics for healing.
The last section of this article briefly discusses the healing components, as they existed within the project described. Sources that relate to the healing components are given to show that many different scholarly theories and types of therapeutic practices can be used to support the fact that these reported components are healing. However, this information also suggests that art may be effective in integrating therapeutic modalities. This is a potential additional benefit.
The “Craving Voice” project is founded on the belief that art is a particularly effective means of communicating issues to both individuals and groups as a process of creating social change. Lack of appropriate documentation by psychologists shows an area where psychologists have been slow to embrace art’s therapeutic effects, or at the very least, consider them of worth. I believe that understanding the nuances of how an art project can be used to both effect societal change and heal could be of substantial benefit to the psychological community; and, at the very least, should be a topic of discussion. I believe that one of the best ways to understand the qualities of art projects used to heal is though a narrative account by the artist about the project; therefore this is the method of presentation chosen for this article. Through the artist’s observations one is able to more clearly understand the important elements of this type of project, and to subsequently be able to develop both methods and a body of research that serve to explain this type of healing event from a psychological perspective. (To be continued…)

Inspired by Adam Shames’ You Lecture, I Leave

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 2, 2009 at 11:29 am

Just what it says above.  A fellow blogger inspired me to merge his observations with my work. 

As an acting coach, in every class I make sure every person gets up and works, sometimes with one other, sometimes by themselves, sometimes with the whole class, but always in front of an audience, always needing to connect with them.

I believe learning happens not just with the words.  As a matter of fact, I believe it happens the least with words.  Sensorialy and kinestetically we retain so much more and on a deeper level.  Telling me about skiing is just not the same as having me do it, see, smell, taste, touch, hear and move in the experience of it all.

I have always known that speaking is like performing – you need to give the audience an experience.  That requires authenticity, heightened energy, great story telling skills, among other technical needs.   And now I’m am on a mission to find even more deeper ways to involve my audience besides just talking about what they need to know. 

If  you’re interested in addressing your fears about speaking, here’s one assignment I give to some of my actors.

You’ll have to read about it in my next blog:  FEAR REVISTED – Fainting at Nordstroms

FEAR REVISITED – fainting at Nordstroms

In Author: Barbara Kite, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on May 2, 2009 at 9:03 am

Here’s an assignment I give to some of my actors.

Choose a large department store (preferrable Nordstroms) and faint in the men’s or women’s clothing department (the opposite of your sex).

It’s easy – you just slowly fold your body down to the ground.

The purpose – because you’re afraid to. To put yourself out there. You live in a box and you don’t really know it (none of us know the parameters of it).

Because you need to feel vulnerable.

Because you need to feel in control.

Do something silly and connect back to the child, the adventurer that still lives in you. (Don’t you want to bring that energy to your speaking?)

Do something that is outside your comfort zone.

How strict are you?

How many silly rules to you adhere to? I wouldn’t think of fainting anywhere because “that’s just not done. It’s irresponsible. People would think I’m crazy if they found out. There are rules we have to follow.”

Are all of them necessary? Do they encourage us to be even more strict with ourselves, more boxed, hold on more tightly (to what?)?

How important is your fear, (do you know that the opposite of fear is excitement?)?

It’s just a way to get you to think and start asking questions about your freedom as a human being, as an artist, as a speaking artist.

Oh and don’t worry about getting “caught” by thepolice or firefighters or management and wasting their precious time. As soon as someone approaches you, start to get to your feet and mention something about “never going without breakfast again”. Of course it helps if you do this late in the afternoon. AND of course you have to be aware of what is going on around you while pretending to faint. You have to be very present as a actor and as a speaker.

I remember doing it and feeling in control of my life.

Let me know how it goes.

You Lecture, I Leave

In Author: Adam Shames on May 2, 2009 at 12:25 am

One day last week I took off from a workshop I had facilitated for suburban high school kids to attend to my own learning, first dropping in at an open-to-the-public talk at Northwestern University and then finishing the evening at a Chris Matthews-moderated political event downtown as part of a three-city 2009 speaker series.

The contrast was shocking. At my workshop, students talked in pairs and small groups, moved their bodies, grappled with exercises, reflected and shared, engaged and debated. The session and insights changed based on their participation.

At the two “adult” learning events, I sat on my ass and occasionally grunted.

Look, our changing times require that adults learn more–and more effectively–than ever, and technology is giving us more at-home and powerful options to do that. So I don’t care if it’s called a “talk” or a “speaker”: I no longer can accept showing up to an event and finding the primary advantage to being there live is that I can tell people I was there. Our current model of adult learning–someone lectures/reads/talks for 80% of the time and then a few audience members ask a question for the remaining 20% time–needs some serious innovation.

At Northwestern, the only difference in the professor’s presentation from 50 or 100 years ago was the occasional powerpoint slide of words and bullet points. At the political event, my favorite part was watching the libertarian Tucker Carlson–particularly the amusing way he sat and stared almost obliviously out into space while others were talking. I liked the conversation, and know that some entertainment issues were at hand. But still, I kept thinking, I could just watch these talking heads on video at another time.

We all learn best by doing, by engaging, by actively caring about the theme at hand, and while our K-12 education still needs to change in many ways, good teachers at least know that the old model of teacher-centered classrooms with students as passive receptacles in rows of desks does not work. But we still accept the lecture at universities and conferences. We still mostly have work meetings that just go from one person talking at you to another, as opposed to active collaboration and debate (below).
I’m in front of a computer right now, as you probably are. Technology has enabled us to get more of our social and educational needs met this way, on our own time, without having to dress up for the occasion. There are so many resources online to engage, entertain and teach us, with more video than ever before. So if we’re going to take on the hassle, travel and expense to learn live and to be with others while doing so, we need to demand that our “speakers” learn how to involve us more, tap into the knowledge in the room, bring alive the bodies and hearts and imagination that finds themselves together at that one moment of possibility.

Entrepreneurial Courage

In Author: Tommy Dawin, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Risk on May 1, 2009 at 5:30 pm

I find myself talking more and more these days to groups about social entrepreneurship, especially to non-profit and community organizations. This makes a lot of sense in these difficult times, because entrepreneurship as an idea and a practice is generative, pragmatic, and hopeful.
I also find myself revisiting Franklin Roosevelt’s canonical line from his first inaugural address that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. It’s only recently, though, that I went back and read the entire address and discovered that Roosevelt actually defines what fear is. In fact, his definition of fear is quite useful for thinking about entrepreneurship:
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Fear is to be feared, in other words, because it makes us hesitate (or even paralyzes us), doubt ourselves, stop taking care of each other, and stop thinking and creating. And, it has this power when we are unable (or unwilling) to name or fully think through tough situations that confront us.
In terms of entrepreneurship, fear stops us from being entrepreneurial or can set in when we stop being entrepreneurial. To engage our biggest challenges in an entrepreneurial way, what matters first is not funding, or infrastructure, or even good ideas. What matters first is mustering and sustaining the courage to come up with the good ideas, scratch for the resources, and build the infrastructure to make new ideas possible.
Indeed, in all my years teaching and consulting on entrepreneurship, I have found that my most important role has been to help my clients and students sustain their courage, and stay accountable to their own best ideas. All the rest, building a team, developing a venture plan, making an idea a reality, only happens because someone pushes through the fear and uncertainty that inevitably goes with new ventures or difficult moments.
So, what does entrepreneurial courage mean in practice?
First, it doesn’t mean lack of fear. We’ve all heard some version of the saying that bravery isn’t not being afraid; it’s being afraid and acting anyway. Same with entrepreneurial courage. Viewed positively, fear (of failure, of looking like an idiot, of running out of money) creates an opportunity for entrepreneurial courage.
Entrepreneurial courage requires us to manage the tensions that arise when we work with others who have different viewpoints and different ideas, as we must.
It requires us to become adept at experimenting with new ideas and being willing to fail so that we can learn quickly what doesn’t work and get to what will work.
It requires us to be unapologetically pragmatic and not let perfect be the enemy of the good and done.
It requires us to constantly fend off cynicism and skepticism about situations we face and the people we face them with.
It requires us to humbly seek and listen to the ideas of those who may not have official expertise or “power” to change things, but may simply have the authority of lived experience and the power of intimate connection to situations and people.
Finally, and this may be the most entrepreneurially courageous act of all, it requires us to identify and focus on what is good and workable in a situation and the personal and material resources we can bring to bear. This attitude is beautifully embodied in the character of Gene Kranz in the movie Apollo 13. Along with his famous line that “failure is not an option,” he continually refocuses his flight engineers from what is wrong with the spacecraft by asking, “what do we got on the spacecraft that’s good?” Or saying, “I don’t care about what anything was DESIGNED to do, I care about what it CAN do!” This is not false optimism. It is a recognition that precisely because a situation is dire, we must focus on what is positive and workable, and we must sustain the courage to act.
In my next post, I will take up the value of silos and boxes. Sometimes, before we try to think outside the box, we need to find new, imaginative ways to use the box.