The Medical Community Taking the Lead in the Arts

I spend a lot of time at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. When I was writing my dissertation it felt like I lived in the library. The school is home to a medical school, nursing school, pharmacy school, and dental school. In addition they have programs in various sciences and public health. One of the school’s attributes is their incorporation of the arts in medicine. They believe, quite strongly, that the arts will enhance the education of their students, professors, and providers.

The school offers a minor for undergraduates in Medical Humanities. The healthcare schools offer a course in Arts and Medicine. There are weekly lectures by faculty members and community experts on the issues surrounding art and healthcare.

One of the outcomes of the Arts in Medicine program is the annual public of The Human Touch. It’s an anthology of poetry, prose, and visual art related to the individual’s experience of being a medical provider. The program and the resulting anthology gives providers and students an outlet for the emotional experiences they witness daily. In addition, it gives the students, who may be seeing things they never thought imaginable, a place to debrief through artistic expression.

These students, faculty, and providers aren’t looking to become “working artists”. They are incorporating art into their lives to relieve stress, explore the impact their studies/work have on their psyche, and provides the world with a peak into their healthcare journey.

It gets me thinking about the possibilities of expanding this concept beyond the medical community. What if big corporations had a program that created this type of anthology utilizing art to unleash potential within their organizations? What if spiritual communities unleashed the “big” questions by congregants by using art to explore the depths of the soul? I congratulate UC Health Sciences Center for being a leader in thought and practice in the field of Art and Medicine!

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2


Selfies for Creatives…Ahead of the Curve

One of the cultural changes resulting from smart phones and social media is the selfie. The selfie is prevalent that one of the major television networks has a show titled Selfies beginning this season. The selfie in many cases has gone viral as when Ellen hosted the Academy Awards in 2014 and squeezed as many A-List stars into one selfie that was tweeted countless times. Do we really have a need to take that many pictures of ourselves?

The idea of taking pictures of oneself to be seen isn’t foreign to anyone who has a creative bone in their body. Creatives have been taking or making selfies since the beginning of time; it’s called art. Sculptors, painters, dancers, songwriters, visual artist, digital artists, muralists, and doodlers all know that what we create is an expression of ourselves. It’s an honest view of our inner and outer world that we want to share. Imagine taking a photo of one of your doodles and sending it out on twitter as a thought you want to share, would it confuse people or would they know it’s you?

I love the notion that creative people invented the non-photo selfie. I believe it’s one more way that we as creative beings can express who we are and what we’re experiencing. It isn’t corny. It’s an honest representation of our humanity and that’s why art is healing. It gives us the opportunity to express ourselves honestly and from a place deeper than any selfie taken with a camera on your phone.

Allow yourself to create and share. We all want to know what you’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing. When we share our art/selfie we share ourselves and that builds community. It’s allows our story to reach places we never thought we could. Technology allows us to share our creative/life journey with like minded people and that’s healing!

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Can You Hear Me Now?

We all know the Verizon commercial with the guy asking repeatedly, “Can you hear me now?” demonstrating coverage. Although art is not about selling phones, the notion of being heard/seen/experienced is very important to an artist. We want to know that our message is being received. I want to make it clear that I’m not making a differentiation between “working artist” and those who create for fun, release, and joy. It doesn’t matter if your work is hanging on a refrigerator or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Creativity is not hierarchical; it’s universal!

The Voice, a musical competition show began a new season last night. The gist of the program is that the auditions are blind. The judges only hear the contestant and if they want them to be on their team they hit a button and turn their chair around. A few of the judges were courting one of the singers and Adam Levine, the lead singer of Maroon 5 said to the contestant, “As your coach I just want to be your amplifier.”

One of the important aspects of living a full life is the opportunity to tell our stories. Our stories punctuate key moments in our lives that are the foundation for who we’ve become. Our stories are memorable and make impressions on those around us. Our stories have impact the lives of others, sometimes without our knowledge.

Using our creativity to “amplify” our lives gives us a broader platform to share what’s important to us. Amplification is important because too many times our stories get drowned out from all the “noise” of society. We all want to be seen and heard and creativity is one way to make that happen. It’s a way for us to remain true to ourselves and that’s the key to living a genuine and authentic life.

If you’re looking to embark on a healing journey, amplifying your story is key to blazing your own unique trail!

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Is It Live or Is It Memorex?

There was a time in our history when the “tape recorder” was a common electronic component in our lives. I had a small colorful one made by Panasonic. I used it for many things from recording music off the radio, recording the second part on a duet so I could play a duet without another person, or listening to something over and over to memorize it. Times have changed and we’ve gone digital. Our phones have recording capabilities not to mention a host of apps on our computers such as Garage Band.

During an interview I heard this past weekend I heard an artist say, “We are a constant tape recorder for our lives.” When we invoke the creative muses in our lives we can capture the memories, feelings, and experiences providing us with healing energy. These captured moments remind us how we overcome adversity, celebrate accomplishments, and soothe ourselves during times of stress. Our creativity is the tape recorder of the soul.

Using creative outlets, whether you create something unique, put your own twist on it, or simply enjoy experiencing something beautiful it has meaning to you. It represents something in your life you want to remember. It signifies a part of your life worth noting, like a landmark when you’re driving and looking for a specific destination. These creative landmarks create shortcuts to the feelings you experienced in the past and allows you to access the feelings you need for health and healing.

I can’t think of anything more poetic than the song Memory by Barbara Streisand. The line, “Memories, light the corners of my mind.” Creativity allows us to shine a light on poignant moments that teach us lessons and allow us to create a lessons learned approach to life.

Give yourself the gift of creative expression and indulge yourself in the bounty that will come from recording life’s experiences!

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Artists Know This and They’re Willing to Share

Art is beautiful. It conveys emotions, ideas, and philosophies. Art unlocks our unconscious processes giving us greater insight to our own psyche and a peak to the collective consciousness. The unfortunate thing is that too many people feel that art is out of their reach. They have come to believe that art is something only created by people whose work shows up in galleries, museums, and the pages of magazines. Is art really inaccessible?

I was invited over to one of my neighbors last week for a get together. On one of the walls were about eight drawings, all framed, and created by their daughter. The work was hung as proudly as any work of art bought in a gallery. It was not only a testament to their pride of their daughter’s creativity, but acknowledged the importance of her persona in the home.

A study done in an arts magazine a couple of years asked students starting in kindergarten about how they perceived themselves in relation to art. The youngest participants when asked if they felt they were artists answered yes unanimously. When the researchers asked fourth graders (about 9 years old) about sixty percent felt they were artists. By the time the researchers got to the high school students, only about 2 students in the class felt they were artists; what changed their self-perceptions?

Dave Burns, a sculptor, was interviewed on the PBS series Arts District. Burns said, “You don’t have to be an artist, you just have to start.” I believe what Burns was saying is that you don’t have to be a professional artist because we’re all artists in our own way and not expressing ourselves is the real shame.

Art heals! Art allows us to be true to ourselves making us more authentic in all aspects of our lives. Allow your inner artist to peak through and grow over time and watch the changes that will take place in your life!

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Taking It to the Streets

We often think about seeing art in a museum, gallery, or studio space. The truth is that art is everywhere. You can find original art in restaurants, hair salons, and hospitals. Culturally we’re beginning to see art become a part of our collective consciousness because it impacts our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives.

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I recently had the experience to work in the NY/NJ area and found myself in New York City f or a couple of sightseeing opportunities. I saw these few large black structures in the street. As I got closer I realized these weren’t structures, but art pieces. Upon closer examination I saw these pieces were made of rubber. I believe they are recycled tires that have been transformed into something beautiful. It’s that shift from functional to something beautiful. Even a tire can have a second life and that’s what art does for us; it gives us a new life!

The furniture world is jumping on the bandwagon with complete lines of furniture with “reclaimed” wood. People who are building or remodeling homes are looking for “reclaimed” lumber. There are even art exhibitions where the theme is “recycled” materials. This punctuates the idea that everything old can be new again!

We’ve told throughout the ages that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Art allows us to create, invent, repurpose, and make beautiful anything and everything we come in contact with. When we create we give meaning to the materials we use. We utilize these materials to tell our story and then share that story with the world.

Look for art wherever you go. Make art out of “unconventional” materials. Change the idea of something being “unconventional” to being innovative. Expand your create palette by taking it to the streets or other places where you can tell your story!

If You Meet Your Inner Artist on the Road….

What if you met your inner artist on your journey? Would you recognize him or her? Would you be attracted to him or her? What is it that you would like to ask your inner artist? Fortunately you do get to meet your inner artist, each and every time you create!

When you create you are reintroduced to parts of yourself that may have been in hiding. You may reconnect with special experiences, moving moments, or provocative questions. Your ability to greet these aspects of yourself provides you with motivation, inspiration, and the desire to share your story. Symbols, part of the creative process, are parts of our inner tickle file bringing us back to those recurring themes.

How will you nurture your inner artist? Many working artists look for patrons of the arts to help support them as they strive to continue their pursuit of creating art. You are patron for your inner artist.   Whenever you feel inspired you feed your inner artist. When you ask a question you feed your inner artist. Your story is all your inner artist needs to fulfill its destiny.

Are you willing to meet your inner artist for a blind date? Many of us don’t believe we’re creative and unfortunately there is no online dating service to link you up with your inner artist. It’s important to provide a safe space for your inner artist to bloom. He or she is patient. Your inner artist is compassionate and will give you the space you need until you’re ready to express yourself through visual arts, writing, dancing, or music to name a few.

When you notice what you’re attracted to you are getting acquainted with your inner artist. Stop for a moment when you feel your body sway to the music. Stop for a moment when you begin humming a favorite tune. Stop for a moment when you notice magnificent architecture or tagging on the wall of a building. Those moments are little whispers from your inner artist asking you to pay attention.

Take your inner artist on a date and begin telling your story in new and creative ways!

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Is Creative Block a Myth?

I hear a lot of artists talk about being blocked and it confuses me. We’re creative beings, how is it possible to be blocked? I believe that what artists are trying to say is that their next masterpiece is not imminent, but how does that translate to being blocked?

As a person who’s extremely focused on process creativity is never out-of-reach. My focus on art and healing isn’t about trying to make a living from the art I create, but continually storytelling as a means of creating wholeness in my physical, emotional, and spiritual life.

Using art as an extension of my voice allows me to tell stories, sometimes the same story in many different ways. It gives me the freedom to explore feelings, physical sensations, or life experiences in a safe manner. It promotes holistic thinking and that’s important if you’re on a health and healing pilgrimage.

I feel fortunate that when I don’t feel inspired to sit at my sewing machine, I can pick up my pen and write something. If that doesn’t fit the bill I can pull out my needles and yarn and knit. The laws of physics state that a body in motion will stay in motion, seems obvious and I don’t believe we stop we just aren’t in masterpiece mode.

If you are a working artist follow Austin Kleon’s words of wisdom from Show Your Work. Kleon states, “Concept of chain smoking-you avoid stalling out in your career by never losing momentum. Here’s how you do it: Instead of taking a break between projects, waiting for feedback, and worrying about what’s next, use the end of one project to light up the next one.” I think this is one of the reasons many of the artists I know work on more than one piece at a time so there is always another piece to jump to because they are following their energy!

Tell your story, continue telling your story, don’t stop telling your story and do it creatively! Doodles, a few words on a post-it, swaying to the music are all ways of self-expression. Don’t buy into the creative block as an excuse for not creating something, anything…just do it!

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I Believe Leonardo Had It Right!

I love notebooks, sketchbooks, journals, and anything else I can use to write in, draw in, or create in. I believe that Leonardo daVinci had it right because his notebooks have been the inspiration for many for many years. He used the notebooks to capture ideas, thoughts, hopes, and dreams. He utilized those notebooks to retain fleeting, tangential, or recurring ideas. These notebooks are priceless.

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I came to appreciate the value and treasure of daVinci’s notebooks after listening to the audio version of Michael Gelb’s How to Think Like Leonard daVinci. In the book Gelb has boiled daVinci’s thoughts and inventions down to seven principles. The principles are inspiring and utilizing them to expand your creative potential will take you far.

The number of notebooks I have is almost comical. I collect notebooks, especially this time of year when the kids go back to school because they are on sale. I’m not a spiral notebook kind of guy because there’s too much potential to tear out a page you don’t like, think is stupid or crazy. It’s important to retain those pages because they can be the springboard for your next idea journey.

Keeping the notebooks/journals/sketchbooks allows us to marvel at our own talent. We’re able to reflect on our creative journeys. When you keep your past work you’re able to experience the shifts in your creative energies, the change in your sources of inspiration, and the lessons you’ve learned from ultimate self-expression.

I believe in this premise so strongly that I give notebooks as a gift to those who participate in exercises when I speak to groups. I want to spread the wisdom of the notebook, a central place for collecting information and inspiration. It doesn’t mater if you’re an artist, a computer programmer, a chef, a physician, or any other profession; we all have ideas that we want to be able to follow-up on later and they need to be in one place (or multiple notebooks if you’re me).

Try following in daVinci’s footsteps and see how your creative energies blossom!

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Art: Our Language of Understanding

We create work that is meaningful to us and represent our life stories. We share not only events in our lives, but our belief system, our hopes, our political leanings, and our like Julie Andrews sings, “A few of our favorite things.” Our art makes us transparent. It’s not that we’re not leaving anything to the imagination, we’re just choosing how and when we let those unspoken areas of our lives reveal themselves.

It may be easier for some of us to show how we think and feel about something rather than speaking an explanation. Gia Mora is a cabaret singer with a unique twist. I saw a segment about Mora on PBS’ Arts District. Mora created a cabaret show that incorporates music, humor, and academia; yes you read it correctly…academia.   It’s a unique twist, but emphasizes the power of art to explain what some may feel are complicated intellectual concepts.

Gia Mora uses art to disarm the public about science and technology. We are continuously looking for ways to engage kids in the fields of math and science and Mora may have the method to draw them in to those subject arenas. When we utilize creativity to share a concept we expand the possibility for connection between us all.

The concept of teaching through art was emphasized in the television movie “The Ron Clark Story”. Clark left North Carolina and went to the inner city in New York and taught kids previously thought to be underachievers. When teaching these kids about the Presidents of the United States, he created a rap song about the presidents and a factoid to help them remember the order. These kids thrived because Clark was able to tap into another part of their brain, their creative side, increasing their capacity for learning.

Looking to share something that others don’t quite get? Try using your creative brain and engage others through art because art is a common denominator!

Hoping to share something about the interruptions life presents?  Visit

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