The 4 things to keep in mind when doing art for social change

I do this work of teaching artistry in order to make a difference in the world.  Don’t you? And I am constantly learning how to do it better.  So yesterday, when I had the honor and privilege to “hang out” online with 3 women I admire very much – Sarah Crowell, Elia Gurna, and Kai Fierle-Hedrick – I was thrilled how much I got to learn from each of them about why this work is so important and how they go about it in their organizations and communities.

Read more on the Teaching Artists Guild blog>>>


Thinking About Lost History & Cocktails on Memorial Day

A Memorial Day blog post should be about fun and friends and amazing summer cocktails to serve at your barbeque. I get it. And I do have a cocktail that I’m eager to share with you. I promise. But first, let’s just take a second this Memorial Day morning to pay tribute to the fallen. I don’t just mean the fallen soldiers. This morning, I am thinking about the billions of folks whose stories have fallen away from our history.  READ THE FULL POST ON PLENTY OF ICE>>>

The number 1 reason I am sick & tired of going to the movies

It’s Friday.  I got a promotional email from Fandango today that read “You made it through the week…it’s movie time.”  Sounds nice.  But, I have no plans to go to the movies tonight.  What’s the point?

Should I see this?

Or this?

I have to say that I am just sick and tired of it.  I am sick and tired of the same old stories of (white) boys with the power to bring everybody together, change everyone’s hearts, and lead the rest of us to discover new areas of the human heart that we never thought possible.  It happens over and over again…It’s not just this new movie…it’s practically every inspirational, tear-jerker, family movie that you can recall.

Looks what happens when you Google “Inspirational Movies”

And I am sick and tired of the same old stories of (white) girls who are teeming with insanity, possessed by the devil, and the inevitable victim of some legendary psychopath.  It happens over and over again…It’s not just this new movie…it’s practically every blood-soaked, fear-inducing, scream-filled movie that you can recall.

Looks what happens when you Google “Horror Movies”

I am just sick and tired of the same old story in mainstream Hollywood.  Girls (white) are scary, crazy objects to be feared and killed.  Boys (white) are fearless leaders to emulate and aspire to become.  And the rest of us (black girls, black boys, queer folks, Immigrants, old folks, etc., etc., etc.) don’t really even matter that much unless we’re Will Smith, one of his kids, or needed to run from the above-mentioned scary girls or provide additional protection to the above-mentioned inspirational boys.

Like Fandango said, I made it through another long week.  I get to rest and relax and bring  myself some comfort with family and friends.  It’s too bad that I can’t do that at the movies.





The Art of…

The phrase “The Art of…” is everywhere.  It’s used for everything.  As an artist, this inspires me.  Perhaps there is hope for us.

Just google it and see what happens.  You discover the famous book, “The Art of War,” of course.  But you also discover a business that sells high-end products for men called, “the art of shaving.”   There is another site for men, a blog dedicated to uncovering the real virtues of being a man in modern times, called “the art of manliness.”  And you may be surprised to learn that Mariah Carey has been working on an album for sometime called “the art of letting go” that still has no release date.

Keep going.  Folks put the phrase “The Art of…” in front of everything.  We especially like to apply it to our work…no matter what kind of work we do.  The Art of…

  • …Leadership
  • …Public Speaking
  • …Conversation
  • …Computer Programming
  • …Management
  • …Accounting…

Wait.  “Accounting?!?”  Yes.  I stumbled upon a business in Canada called The Art of Accounting.  “C’mon,” you might say.  “There is absolutely no art in accounting!”  Well, that’s what I thought too…until I read their mission statement…”Numbers tell a story.  At The Art of Accounting we specialize in interpreting the financial story for small business owners in order for them to make timely decisions and ultimately achieve their goals.” There it is.  The art.  I feel like it’s important to point out that this business and owned and operated by women.  Of course.

Based on the above mission statement and my short travels through the world wide web, folks clearly get what “art” means.  They use the phrase “The Art of…” when they want their customers to understand that they value telling important stories, making meaning, and making real connections.  “The Art of…” implies that there is a process going on – one that probably includes some struggle and some messiness – but is focused on the end goal of creating something beautiful.

So is there hope?  Does this mean that all of us artists and arts educators are incorrect whenever we complain about how no one understands us and our work?  Does this mean that all sectors of our economy actually know and value and appreciate the power of the arts in their lives and work?  Does this mean that, as artists, we can finally take our true place as wise sage in society and actually start to make a little bit of money for it?  If everybody wants “the art,” then they must also want “the artist.”  Right?