Presentation and Artistic Call to Action delivered by
The University of Minnesota Statewide Gathering, 9 December 2010
And Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, 14 January 2011
As an artist I believe that Creativity through the arts offer us an opportunity for transformation … both personally and as a community. Art can show us both beauty and can illuminate the darker side of life. When our creativity is awakened within us and shared, it can shine out into the world and in that creative process make something new … transforming both self and the community around us.
The arts have the power to transform our mechanical minds and give us a new language that touches the yearning of our soul. When we hear a series of musical notes or lyrics we can be transported through time or when we stand in front of a work of art, we may find it reaching a place in us where words may not be able to go … a divine place … a place that can lift us up and connect us with creation … perhaps even allowing us to see the divine in the face of another.
Music, drama, the literary and the visual arts have a strong place in the culture of Minnesota … just as they have been part of our gathering here at Bethlehem … it evokes something in us.
It has been my experience that creating can be a healing gesture, as sacred as prayer, as essential to the spirit as food for the body. With that, I am now going to ask you to be part of the creative process. The poor may feel invisible to the rest of the world, so with our stories and art we will help make visible the invisible.
In front of you on the table are squares of paper and markers. What I would like you to do is select a color square and on one side … with words or symbol express YOUR OWN STORY OF ENOUGH and on the other side of the square …YOUR COMMITMENT AND WHAT YOU WILL DO TO ENSURE ENOUGH FOR ALL. This can be done with words or symbols. I ask you that in the act of drawing or writing reflect on a person you know who has suffered under poverty… see their face or feel the emotion … or your own lament over poverty if you have been touched by it personally … reflect on this while you are working. You can create more than one if you like … the more the better.
And if you are comfortable, share your stories of ENOUGH and your commitment with others at your tables.
When we are finished we will collect your squares and they will be stitched together with the stories and art of your sisters and brothers from around the state. Our art will continue to grow and be displayed to make visible the faces of poverty and symbolize our commitment to help transform the lives of our neighbors.
The square, by the way, is an archetypal shape and its form has appeared in the art of all cultures throughout time. The square symbolizes stability, solidity, security and permanence. Working with the square indicates your readiness to build, to implement a plan and to manifest your ideas. In many traditions, the square was an emblem of the perfect city, built for eternity.
So I invite you to take this time to reflect, create and act. Allow your art to proclaim with image and word your intensions.
I would like to close with a quote that I find inspiring as an artist. It’s from the artist Marc Chagall… 'If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.'