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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…
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?
What if this was happening in a school instead of a museum? What if the teacher meant for it happen? Was counting on it? What would it to do for her class? What would it do for the school? What would it do for the whole way we structure learning?
What if this were 1000 girls? Or 5000 girls? Different races, cultures, classes from all over the world doing this at exactly the same moment? What would it do for the girls? And what would the ripple effect be for the rest of us?
What if this were, instead, 5000 young urban black men? How would it change them? How would it change their families? How would it change Oakland? And Chicago? And Newark? And D.C.? And…
What if this little girl was you in your job? What if it were our politicians and corporate leaders? What would it do for our workplaces and our systems? What would it do for creativity and innovation? What would it do to our interactions with each other?
What would it do for hearts?
Thank you Rachel Kadner from the Habitot Children’s Museum for sharing this on Facebook today.
This is a big week for me as a teaching artist and girl advocate. Not only has our Go Girsl! Camp registration opened for the summer, tomorrow, I will be giving an 18-minute TED like talk at the How Kids Learn Conference in San Francisco about my work. The event is sold out but, don’t worry, it will be filmed and I will share it here. My talk shares my views on:
This is a big deal for me. I want to make it clear that I am talking about something more than giving girls the opportunity to improve their self-esteem by being in some “cute plays.” It’s bigger than that. These are girls are engaging in a process of deciding who they want to be and co-creating the world they world they want to live in. I really do believe these plays that Go Girls! make can change the world.
I’m just afraid that no one else believes it. I’m afraid it’s more than we are prepared to believe.
Also this week, on Saturday in Berkeley, I will facilitate the first full membership meeting for Teaching Artists Organized (TAO). As the Membership Committee chair of TAO, I am really pumped about about making 2013 the Year of the Teaching Artist. I believe so strongly (and have written about this before), that, in the wake of violence and disconnection and abuse and neglect, it is time for teaching artists to rise to leadership in bringing us all back to peace. This compassion revolution that I speak of depends on the skills of the teaching artist. Again, sharing this on Saturday is a big deal for me. I want to make it clear that I am talking about something more than giving kids the opportunity to get the arts education that has been so savagely eradicated from our schools. It’s
bigger than that. Teaching artists have the power to help kids and adults, in various community settings, imagine new possibilities for how we can all BE together. By strengthening the collective imagination and giving everyday folks the tools and skills to make and do and create, we threaten the whole status quo. As my friend, Big Rich, said to me yesterday:
“The game is in danger. Being able to be creative and proactive is dangerous to these people.”
I’m afraid that my fellow teaching artists aren’t prepared to be dangerous. I hope we are. I hope I am.
“In the rest of the jail, E Section is famous for being ‘luxurious’ in comparison. Our students have more time outside their cells, board games in the common room, art and yoga classes… but along with those privileges comes the expectation that they will be a part of a more intentional community. They need to be for each other and for healthy rehabilitation…Every so often I will stand back and realize how surreal this place is. I think that real magic happens when art is made is unlikely places, but more importantly I think everyone involved is confronted with their common humanness.”
Imagine an entire prison system based on the values of E section. What would it do to the recidivism rate? What would it do for the overall health and well-being of young men of color? What could we do to make this happen?
Teaching Artist Organized is seeking a passionate arts education advocate with teaching artist experience as well as a strong outreach and membership background. The ideal person must be a self-starter comfortable with creative thinking within the boundaries of running the nuts and bolts of a membership driven organization. This organization is entering its second phase of establishing itself as a national model serving Teaching Artists.
This position supports the full membership of TAO to coordinate all marketing and communication tasks related to building and maintaining TAO’s membership.