|"Special Things" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.|
I have been thinking more about De-Colonization (see previous post) and Susan Anand's and my presentation and workshop at the upcoming American Art Therapy Conference in Baltimore. Part of the idea of de-colonizing our lives and minds is to learn more about who we are and where we came from. Most of us have history of mixed cultures and identities which, if we are willing to embrace and explore, are wonderfully creative, fertile ground, as musician Leyla McCalla describes her immigrant/refugee/dislocated person finding her place in the world.
Yes, we need art! So how do we de-colonize our lives and work happily with our fertile ground? I just finished reading the Ten Burning Man Principles and I think they are on to something. So here's my twist on their 10 principles. I would apply them liberally in any art room, in fact I would apply them anywhere!
1. Radical Inclusion
Welcome and respect the stranger (and sometimes that stranger is within). Hold no prerequisites for participation in your community. Be kind.
Be devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is that it is unconditional. Try a little guerilla art. (Experience the connection between creativity/generativity and generosity.)
(This on is HUGE!!!) In order to preserve the spirit of gifting and generosity, seek to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. Stand ready to create and protect culture from such exploitation. Resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience. (Read up on Gruen Transfer)
4. Radical Self-reliance
Encourages yourself to discover, exercise and rely on your inner resources. (Like working on your thousand ways to have a happy artist's life)
5. Radical Self-expression
Radical self-expression comes out of the fertile ground of our unique gifts. And we get to determine the content of our own self-expression. Offer this as a gift to others. And of course we can also respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
6. Communal Effort
Value creative cooperation and collaboration. Produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
7. Civic Responsibility
Value civil society. Find and nurture your place in society.
8. Leaving No Trace
Respect the environment. Clean up after activities and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave places in a better state than when you found them. It's not that hard, plus it feels good.
Be committed to a radically participatory ethic. Believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in groups, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Invite everyone to work. Invite everyone to play. Make your world real through actions that open the heart.
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone in real culture. Seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with the "more than human" world. There is no substitute for the real, immediate experience.
Try these 10 principles in your happy artist's life and let me know how they work for you.