Featured in Holderness School Magazine

May 25th, 2014

Jay Mead Image, Holderness School Magazine, Winter 2014My alma mater, the Holderness School in New Hampshire, interviewed me and wrote an article about my career entitled “The Art of Well-Being” in their Winter 2014 magazine.

Read the full article here: Jay Mead Article, Holderness School Magazine, Winter 2014

 

 

Keynote and “The Waste Stream:” Earth Day at Humboldt State University

April 30th, 2014

For Earth Day, I was invited to Humboldt State University in Arcata, California to deliver a keynote address on my “Art of Sustainability” approach and to co-create an installation with students to raise awareness about the plastics flowing through our lives (and into the ocean). I am grateful to organizers and to the Humboldt Energy Independence Fund for making my participation possible.

You can download and view my keynote presentation here: Humboldt Keynote, Jay Mead, April 2014.

“The Waste Stream”

Waste Stream, 2

Waste Stream, 1

“The Waste Stream” installation simulates plastic waste flowing westward into the Pacific Ocean, where there is a monstrous mass of plastic accumulating in something known as the “Pacific Gyre.” The installation was created in a few hours and is kinetic in that the wind moved the five long tentacles of bottle chains. Some 1,500 bottles make up this piece, which stretches a few hundred feet and flows down two sets of stairs.

I liked the fact that it was sprawling on the ground and forced people to notice what was happening and where they were walking. Most folks stepped over the strands carefully while others – like skate boarders – saw it as something to have fun with and jump over.

The folks who stopped by and talked to me about the project engaged in varying degrees of conversation from light to deep, including talk of complex systems going into political, religious, cultural and even evolutionary roots. One participant commented:

“You touched on a question that has been on my mind: How can art activate memories that remind us of how we are connected to this planet?  Once that awareness is activated, turning it into engagement, is the big challenge if we are to move from being passive observers to participants in making our human presence more sustainable.”

I really enjoy engaging with people as I co-create a large piece. It’s wonderful to begin the day of creation not knowing how it will turn out, but having faith and then being pleasantly surprised to discover new aspects such as the role of the wind.

Architecture Class at The Sharon Academy

March 17th, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to teach an elective Architecture class at The Sharon Academy in Sharon, Vermont. Each of the 8 students completed two projects, one based in fantasy, the other in reality. The first was to design and build a model of a fantasy tree house. The second was to design an artist-in-residence cabin for possible construction on The Sharon Academy campus. Students visited the future site for the cabin to plan a residence footprint no bigger than 800 square feet. Then, they generated drawings and models of their proposed cabins and presented them to classmates, a visiting architect and school administrators:

Through an exciting collaboration with the Harpo Foundation, the school may draw inspiration from the students’ designs to build the actual cabin!

Thanks to Amber Wylie for her photography and slideshow video!

Humanizing Skin: A Mural Project with High Schoolers

December 12th, 2013

I recently taught a 10-week mural class with 11 students at The Sharon Academy in Sharon, Vermont. In these photos, students are posing with their self-portrait “bodies.” I guided students through a process of cutting out their body shapes from plywood and then painting what they currently identify with on each. For instance Deniz, an exchange student from Turkey, has painted elements in his body that reflect his love for his homeland, travel, the sea, and basketball.

Deniz

All of the students’ paintings will be screwed to the exterior walls of the high school. I call this “humanizing” the skin of the school.

Anyata

See more photos of student work and read about my teaching and workshop offerings.

 

Reclaiming Sustainability through Art

December 2nd, 2013
Red Hands

Jay Mead, Red Hands, 2011

By Jay Mead, with Dominic Stucker. The sustainability movement is in urgent need of re-invigoration. For too long, we have relied on a problem-focused, doom and gloom approach that engenders fear. While fear can motivate action, it more often paralyzes people, trapping us in anxiety and despair about eroding futures for our children and grandchildren. Seemingly surrounded by catastrophes and insurmountable challenges, we usually cannot see beyond the perpetuation of our broken, fossil-fuel-dependent socio-economic system.

The word “sustainability” has been used now for decades; for some it carries hope, while for others it has lost it’s meaning through misuse in marketing and “green washing.” Together, let’s seek to reclaim sustainability as a viable aspiration and a way of life for all of humanity, using art and creative expression as a path to do so.

I believe that people need to connect to sustainability through their hearts; this orientation can happen through art and the cultivation of right brain thinking. I call this approach the “Art of Sustainability,” a practice and way of being with one another and nature that emphasizes creativity, connection, and hope.

Being in this great moment of human history, we are conscious of the choices we make and have the agency to create a sustainable future for all. This moment is what deep ecologist, Joanna Macy, refers to as “The Great Turning” and what systems thinker, Donella Meadows, called the “Sustainability Revolution.” Envisioning a just and thriving world is an act of faith, a recognition of the potential for change in oneself and in society. Shared vision can transcend the pervading mindset that we are separate from nature and help us bring about a life-sustaining world.

The current unsustainable path that humanity treads instills many with fear of mass pandemics, climate change, destruction of what we know and love, technological oppression, and the loss of individual freedom; the list goes on. We can, however, take a different path to sustainability that engages the heart and inspires us to do what humans are so good at: creative problem solving.

So what is it that moves us to act on behalf of this amazing place we call Earth? I know that I value beauty, the essence of nature, and the fullness of sensory pleasure that comes from experiencing wildness. The simple fact that there is so much yet to be learned about and experienced in the natural world is the essential fire of my curiosity. Biomimicry, for example, is a practical application of this passion to observe and learn from nature while serving the needs of humanity.

To embrace the Art of Sustainability is to embrace a way of living that is playful, and filled with wonder and infinite possibility. As poet Mary Oliver says, “The universe could have been created ugly, and would have functioned. And yet there is beauty everywhere in creation. Beauty gives us an ache to be worthy of that creation.” The Art of Sustainability gives us a pathway to demonstrate our love for creation and creativity.

Read more about my Art of Sustainability approach and related workshop offerings.