The sessions were:
- Thriving Together, which explores the Arts Awareness concept of togetherness through wholeness in music that can help everyone adapt to the multifaceted nature of 21st century knowledge and learning.
- Passion, Purpose, and Persistence, which explores the Arts Awareness concept of making new connections—expanding approaches, ideas, and solutions—to achieve and sustain momentum in the entrepreneurial environment of today’s world.
Each of these sessions was a combination of personal experiences, stories, and group interaction about the qualities of the artistic process. One teacher commented that she was excited to return to her class the next day and try these new ideas.
As I drove 4½ hours through the wide open spaces of the remote desert landscape to return home the next day, my thoughts settled on a similar experience of space while on vacation in Princeville on the island of Kauai a few years ago. I watched as people gathered every evening to experience the sun set. It was a spectacular sight, and everyone sat there in silence allowing space for nature to display its splendor. People prepared and set up lawn chairs well in advance so they could watch the brilliant display of colors as the sun went down and appeared to disappear into the ocean. The experience stimulated all of my senses. Just like the sessions, the space was filled with openness and focused attention. At the cliff overlooking the ocean, the experience was not only one of spectacular colors but of the fragrance of saltwater in the air, the sound of moving water and the flight of birds, and the peaceful feel of a gentle breeze. It appeared that everyone’s intention each evening was the same—to witness the event and experience the quiet awareness of what they found in that space.
The artist is a receptacle for the emotions that come from all over the place:
from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper,
from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.
~ Pablo Picasso
Arts teachers understand the discipline of lifelong learning. They grew up, so to speak, immersed in the artistic process. They learn to experience a continual succession of events—letting go of old learning and making way for new. Each new bit of knowledge deepens and broadens their understanding. All along the way as they grow, they let go of things that no longer serve them—previous learning that is no longer relevant, replaced by a higher level of awareness and skill.
Artists of all kinds strive to express themselves in ways that can stimulate thought and new ideas. They express what they find through deepening awareness and create something that has meaning and value for the world. The best compliment you can give an artist is that you felt their work, that it held meaning and value for you. They work hard at what they do, spending long hours, day after day, to achieve their goals. It is an extension of who they are as human begins. Artists constantly search, internally and externally—seeing, hearing, and feeling things in their world, making note of them and exploring them. They are open to new ideas—allowing, responding, and leading the way.
To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.
~ Pablo Picasso
Arts teachers learn to carry this attitude forward. They change their thought processes from an attitude of control to one of evaluating the knowledge and determining how it can best be used. While they strive for meaning in their own artistic endeavors, their focus is on creating meaning and value in the lives of their students. Teaching becomes an art in itself—an extension of their expression as an artist. They return to classes day after day, speaking with passion about their discipline. They teach with energy and listen with empathy. Besides the knowledge of expressing themselves through the elements of their art form, they must also learn how to share their knowledge in a way that students can understand. If that sort of communication isn’t part of their experience, they might struggle a little, learning it as they go. It requires them to let go of assumptions and to open space for expression of a different kind.
- Artists spend hours in a space of openness—an environment filled with their inner sense of the world. It’s critical for them to create meaningful work and express themselves as unique and creative human beings.
- Arts educators learn to transfer the skills and expand them in teaching environments. It frees their minds, allows for greater awareness, and allows them to move more authentically.
When you allow yourself this kind of space, it gives you room to breathe. It’s refreshing and can help you open up and examine situations, making room around them to gain perspective.