Reboot, Renew, Revitalize

Have you noticed the growing number of entertainment reboots currently making it to the big and small screen?  If you listen to the radio, you’ve not doubt heard Weezer’s remake of Toto’s Africa.  Broadway is always reviving musicals and plays with new spins.  I figured I would join the crowd and I’ve just become the president of Front Range Contemporary Quilters (www.artquilters.org) for the second time.   I was president ten years ago, and now it’s time for a reboot.

What is it about a reboot, or in my case, a new term that’s so appealing?  First and foremost, I’m familiar with the job.  There is a minimal learning curve.  I know when the newsletter article is due.  I’m familiar with the recruitment practices for membership. I understand the selection process for speakers.  On the flip side, over the past ten years, the membership has changed.  The use of technology has skyrocketed.  I’ve gotten older.

I believe any organization, business, even our own lives need revitalization on a regular basis. Boredom is one of the key components to sadness, lowered productivity, and the numbing of our emotional lives. It dulls our creativity, and as artists, creativity is our lifeline.  I’m not suggesting throwing the baby out with the bath water.  What we know has been working we keep.  Those ideas, practices, and themes not bringing joy to your life gets sent to the trash, literally and figuratively.

I’ve spent the last year regrouping and revitalizing my educational goals and my art practices. I recently completed a graduate certificate program in Health Humanities and Ethics.  This program gave me the energy and impetus to get focused about the art I want to create.  I’ve been in health and healing for thirty years.  Now, with further study I’ve become entrenched, engaged, and energized by the possibilities of the stories I want to tell.  I’m more focused.  My art has a sharper narrative.  My studio time is about storytelling and spiritual practice.  The two combined allow me to serve my community by speaking my truth about the gaps I witness in the world.

My creativity is a way for me to stay connected to my heart and soul.  If I hadn’t delved deeper into my interests, my passion, my purpose, I wouldn’t have achieved this new direction in art.  I feel renewed, I feel revitalized, and I feel reinvigorated.  I believe you will too!  Give it a try and let me know if I can help.  Renewing your vows to yourself improves your creative process!

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Echo Chamber

How many times do you need to be told or hear the same thing before it registers?  Are you attuned to the clues that step-in front of you on a daily basis?  When I was in college I toyed with the idea of being an English teacher.  I registered for the class Foundations of Education with Mr. Sacca.  One of the things he shared were his secrets for being a student and trying to figure out what would be on the exam.  Mr. Sacca shared that if something in the lecture was repeated it would most likely be on the exam.  His mantra in the class was “repetition for emphasis.”

I’ve been out of college for over thirty years and this mantra sticks with me.  Every day I try and pay attention to what enters my consciousness.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect.  It may take numerous encounters with an idea, a person, or an experience before its purpose registers.

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Spending time in the “echo chamber” is living in the cross-hairs of important components of our lives.  As creative beings, our ability to convert the same idea, color, tone, meter can be developed to look, sound, and feel different every time.  It’s this variety that helps us punctuate our message.  Repeating a theme increases the volume of our creative voice.

If you think you don’t have anything to add to the conversation in the Universe you’re wrong.  What I’ve learned over the years as an artist is that we can all want to share similar messages, but it’s our unique energy and point-of-view that makes it accessible to a specific audience.  We all have an audience waiting to hear what we have to say, so say it!

Don’t’ be surprised if you have to share your message over and over before it’s received.  We can’t expect others to get it and assimilate it any faster than we did.  Don’t give up because persistence shows the power of your message.  When you take a stand, you’ll be surprised how like the Pied Piper, others will stop, listen, and eventually follow.

Now more than ever we need your creative voice.  Your creative energy will be a catalyst for change in the world!

A Blank Canvas

A new year, a new you…of that’s what you desire.  The one thing I know about creativity is its incredible ability to transform our lives.  It allows us to tell our story creating the pieces to the human quilt.  Creative energy provides us with the momentum we need to create a life that evolves and can be crafted with deeper understanding and meaning.

I’ve been fortunate to enroll in a graduate certificate program in Health Humanities and Bioethics.  The class is a mix of health and allied health professionals all focused on one goal; how to incorporate the humanities in medicine.  I’ve been a huge proponent of art and medicine for years.  I’ve utilized my own artistic practices to reflect my own health challenges and the stories of those I’ve interviewed.

The professor for the class I just finished allowed us to do something creative for our final project.  I created four new art pieces and combined that with eight pieces in my personal collection and paired those twelve pieces with poetry reflecting the sentiments of the art.  I curated the show in a round room so classmates could stand in the center of the work and absorb the gravity of the subjects I tackled in the art.

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The experience was overwhelming.  The work had an even greater impact than I expected.  As health professionals, each class member related stories from their own professional lives punctuating the exhibition.  If that weren’t enough, one of my classmates wrote a song for her final project.  The song debuted while everyone was standing in the middle of my art.  The synergy of our two projects was spectacular.

When we combine our creative energies, we can build upon each other’s stories.  The songwriter approached me after the presentation about doing a collaboration in the future.  The idea of combining visual art, poetry, and music speaks to the impact art can have in healthcare.

My hope this year is to take you on a journey giving you the opportunity to explore your creative side and meaning making.  Our creative storytelling can deepen our connection to one another easing tensions inter-personally and in society.  Let’s take this journey together and see how we can transform the world.

New Outlook…Same Message

It has been a couple of years since my last post. Let me assure you it’s not because I abandoned the message, but I’ve been taking a deep dive about the impact of the message on my life. I’ve had the opportunity to visit new venues, talk with more artists, and see how all of the stories integrate into a cultural quilt.

I’m always intrigued at the different voice each museum creates for its patrons, community, and visitors. Phoenix had an exhibit of a contemporary Native American artist. El Paso had an exhibition of contemporary Mexican artists, along with a special exhibition of Diego Rivera’s cubist work. At home, the Denver Art Museum has a Western Art exhibition featuring not only art and sculpture, but also western films from a bygone era.

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“American Portrait with One Eye” by Fritz Scholder

It’s not only people that have a voice and story, but locations tell stories. Have you ever been to Muir Woods in California? The groves of redwood trees tell a story of time and perseverance. The red rocks of Utah display a majestic landscape that no man could have ever created or even imagined. It’s these stories that draw us to interact with our environment and incorporate into our own narrative.

I’ve had the opportunity to travel over the past few months and came home not only with wonderful new friends, but memories that will last a lifetime. How do I know this? I created a piece of art for an exhibition of one of The Church of Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg Russia. The piece is infused with the memories from the trip, but also its impact on my own story. It is a forever piece!

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Bling it On…Church of Spilled Blood”, “75”Exhibition

In the coming days I’ll be exploring arts impact on individuals, communities, and societies. I’ll be sharing research, interviews, and articles I find along the way that hopefully will expand our vision of art on narrative and narrative on art.

Every work of art is like a cell in the body. It has a critical role to play in the story of our current and past history while shaping our future. Art and narrative skip along the pathway to exploring how we live our lives. It provides us with comfort. It allows us to scream without words. It broadens our understanding or our own lives.

I hope you’ll join me for this exploration. I encourage you to start dialogues either through words or other mediums. We must keep the conversation moving forward.

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!

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

Are You “Happy”

I’m addicted to interviews. Interviews allow me to be a voyeur into someone’s life without having to know them. If the interview is good, the interviewer will gain the trust of the guest and be allowed to explore more than just the surface issues that the tabloids are interested in, and get to more of a soul level.

Yesterday I was watching Oprah Prime. Her guest was Pharrell who has been having a breakout year. If you didn’t know Pharrell before “Happy”; I’m assuming you may know him since the breakout song “Happy” took over the world. It’s a good thing he’s not an evil man because a song like “Happy” could have been used for world domination (hope you know I’m just kidding).

Oprah asked him about the song “Happy” and did he know it would explode into a global phenomenon. Pharrell shared that at the beginning he couldn’t get any airplay on the song. It was a struggle. Obviously that has changed and people around the globe are dancing to “Happy”.

They showed a clip, a montage of uploaded videos from people around the globe doing their “Happy” dance. I was watching the montage and started to cry, not because I was sad, but because something so simple as music has transcended to become a global anthem. When they panned back to Pharrell and Oprah both were crying. They both made it very clear that they were “Happy” tears because it tapped into the human need and desire for community and self-expression. The song broke down barriers between nationalities, age, race, and gender.

This is why creative expression is healing. Art doesn’t have any boundaries; it’s limitless. Our creative stories and expressions provide a backdrop for our humanity to shine. Art heals because we give our souls flight when we express ourselves so honestly and authentically.

If you haven’t seen the montage of global “Happy” go find it or simply watch some uploaded videos from people in countries you know nothing about and she how art and in this case “Happy” translates!