Category Archives: Art and Community

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.

IMG_1861

“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!

IMG_3863

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.

Advertisements

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!

Installations and Impermanence

I often travel the country for work. When I take on a contract I’m in a new city between four and six months. I work diligently to explore my new temporary city and that includes as many of the art venues as possible.

My last contract was in Indiana, PA, north of Pittsburgh. I made every effort to make my days off count and that meant exploring the museums Pittsburgh has to offer. Since the days of the diminishing steel industry, Pittsburgh reinvented itself as an arts town. Along with the many prestigious universities, it has fabulous art museums that spark the imagination.

One of the amazing venues was The Mattress Factory (www.mattressfactory.org). It’s a museum dedicated to installation art. It’s multiple buildings and each one is more impressive than the last. The museum has housing for the artists who live onsite while creating their masterpieces.

I don’t always understand installation art, but one of the interesting things that intrigued me was the ability to become part of the art. When you walk into the art you become part of the art. When you leave the art piece, it changes, and so do you.

Artist Jonathan Latiano strives to get people to be hyper-aware of the space around them. When you’re aware of your surroundings you can weave your way through the space impacting it with each turn. One of Latiano’s premises is that installation art epitomizes impermanence. That’s because it’s created in the space where it’s shown and when the show is over the installation is dismantled. Even if it is recreated it’s impossible for it to be identical to its last reincarnation.

I recently wrote a piece on impermanence titled What Buddhist monks and children have in common (you can find it at www.pilgrimpathway.com).   Installation art is about invention and reinvention. Artists don’t create installation art with the intention of someone buying it for their living room. They create it as an ultimate form of self-expression.

In a world filled with challenges, the ability to reinvent ourselves is a gift. Installation art personifies our ever-changing souls. It’s a mirror for our personal and universal transformations. The impermanent nature of the art is a blessing because it shows us the path to emergence!

Looking to reinvent yourself following a personal or professional challenge?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Finding Your Tribe

We all have a need to belong. Our affiliations are not only social, but they provide us with a context for our lives. The tribe is often an extension of us. The groups are projections of our essence and often, in these groups, we seek parts of ourselves we feel we’re missing. As artists we want to belong, but in a culture of isolation that’s often difficult.

I was watching the HBO documentary about Robert DeNiro Sr., a painter who never felt like he belonged. He struggled with many things, but a huge struggle was his self-exclusionary nature. He didn’t like art dealers despite his success with people such as Peggy Guggenheim. His self-imposed exile was a struggle and caused tremendous pain. He left a set of journals that his son, Robert DeNiro (the actor) read from throughout the documentary.

The art community can be filled with cliques and breaking in can be very difficult.   However, the act of creation, connecting with your gift, and thanking the divine is healing. It can lessen your feeling of loneliness and provide you with an outlet for continuing your narrative.

When you’re creative expression is authentic, you will attract those who are inspired by your work or who have been triggered by your work. The work will draw those who need to see it if and when you show it to the world. The healing gift of your voice not only allows you to break out in the art world, but in other arenas of your life.

It doesn’t matter the challenge you’re facing, having a tribe where you feel connected to something bigger than yourself is healing. Knowing there are people who feel the same way you do about healing and creativity is monumental. It affirms your passion and ignites imagination.

Find your tribe and let the healing magic begin!