The artist and teacher in me loves to experience and create. The scholar in me loves to pause occasionally to reflect on what I have been doing and on my creative process. As an experiential educator, I believe that what we do provides opportunities for learning and growth if we take time to thoughtfully process our experiences. So, this pause on the path provides an opportunity for me, and hopefully you, to ask ourselves three questions – what? so what? and now what? What have we experienced? What sense can we make of these experiences? How can we apply what we have learned to our lives? My graduate students have heard and been challenged to apply these questions many times over the years.
So I want to reflect on what an artist does. I recently read an article with excerpts from Kazuki Tanahashi’s book, Painting Peace: Art in a Time of Global Crisis. Tanahashi identifies four things that an artist does that really resonate with me. Here they are:
- Dreams and Fantasizes – An artist envisions what seems impossible to be possible. So
scientists, inventors and social reformers can be artists.
- Creates – An artist creates concepts, perspectives, questions, contradictions, languages,
symbols, sounds, feelings and forms.
- Communicates – An artist communicates by drawing attention, asking questions, sending
messages and persuading.
- Helps bring people together – An artist involves people in common creative activities,
discussions, and sharing of thoughts and visions.
I really like this clear, relevant summary. My intention as artist, teacher and spiritual practitioner is to imbed my work with these actions and values.