Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Hands on Pianos – Tree Songs

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Tree Songs, close-up

Tree Songs, collage

These images are from the “Hands on Pianos” project I am currently participating in. This piece is called “Tree Songs.” It’s comprised of saplings I painted white and screwed to a piano I painted black. By attaching saplings to the piano, it appears to have the forest reclaim it, or perhaps people will see the piano as growing among a bunch of saplings. There is a beautiful rhythm to a grove of saplings clustered in a forest. The repetition of these vertical elements should compliment the black and white keys of the piano.

The piece will be installed for the month of July in an outside, public space somewhere in Vermont and New Hampshire’s Upper Valley. This project is part of Dartmouth College’s celebration of the Hopkins Center for the Arts’ 50th anniversary. Mine is one of 50 pianos that have been altered by artists that will installed in the region.  See more images of the creative process on the official Hands on Pianos website. And find pianos using this map of all installations.  I’ll let you know when I learn where my piece will be installed.

Systems Thinking through Art in Nature

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Art in nature piece by Dominic Stucker

By guest writer, Dominic Stucker, Program Manager at Sustainability Leaders Network. Based on participation in several of my art in nature workshops, Dominic offers these reflections.

Systems thinking and creativity are essential for bringing about the transition to sustainability. Systems thinking helps us assemble diverse stakeholders to better understand the integrated economic, social, and environmental systems we seek to change. Creativity and art help us gain clarity in vision and tap into the breakthrough thinking necessary for innovating a new reality, a new relationship between people and planet. Fortunately, these leadership skills are mutually reinforcing, especially through making art in nature.

Immersing ourselves in nature, sitting quietly, eyes opened, eyes closed, we can hone our skills of observation, noticing patterns and processes that have evolved over millennia. Using all our senses, we can experience and learn from nature. Perhaps we see the streams, brooks, and river in a basin, noticing nature’s nested hierarchies. Or we reflect on the larger water cycle, a process that, instead of linear and polluting, is cyclical and cleansing. Gazing skyward from a soft bed of pine needles, we can observe the forest’s resilience in flexibility, trees swaying in the wind. Or we smell the pungent soil, part of annual cycle that returns sustenance to the trees’ roots. Perhaps we see the genius in a flower, tracking the sun and folding its petals at dusk; or in the capacity of a cactus to store water; or in the design of a feather. We can learn from and co-create with these natural systems.

I have had the privilege and joy of participating in several Art of Sustainability sessions with Vermont artist and educator, Jay Mead. Two that stand out were along the Housatonic River in rural Connecticut and along a wild part of the Connecticut River in Vermont. Jay invites participants to see nature anew through quiet observation, sensing, and play. The invitation includes being fully present, setting aside transient to do lists and deep-seated preconceptions about how the world works. Participants are asked to start from a place of unknowing – playful for some, meditative for others – being open for deeper wisdom to emerge.

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Reflecting on Ken Robinson’s TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”

Friday, February 10th, 2012

In looking at what Ken Robinson says about creativity and how schools are currently killing this natural part of our being, it’s clear that he, along with other visionaries, believe that this industrial model of education no longer serves us. He states that “creativity is as important as literacy,” and that we should be cultivating multiple intelligences rather than the current hierarchy that favors linear thinking with math and sciences at the top and the arts at the bottom. Intelligence, as he points out, is interactive and requires openness to many ways of understanding and expression.

At Sustainability Leaders Network, our Art of Sustainability program (AoS), flows from the same framework of understanding as Ken Robinson’s talk. AoS seeks to bring back the child in all of us that in most cases have been suppressed by school and society at large. Creativity and risk-taking are at the core of this long lost child in all of us. It is the great unknowing and willingness to make mistakes that most of us have been conditioned to reject. AoS cultivates creative experiences so that participants can engage as whole people and, in doing so, find wisdom and discovery in unexpected places.

To work for sustainability on the planet, it is crucial for activists to face this challenge as whole people. To be a “whole” person” both the right and left-brain modalities need to be in sync. This can also be seen as unity of the heart and mind. AoS is intended to be a visionary tool and critical part of helping various change agents be more effective and make their work more meaningful. This is precisely the kind of work that Ken Robinson seems to be promoting.