Preparing for class   Leave a comment

School begins in a couple of weeks and I am mulling over what will be the most engaging materials for my course, Creating Social Activist Images.  So many artists have the ability to make political statements and social commentary with intelligence, talent and wit that their work and causes become unforgettable.   Take look at the serious and often disturbing ad campaigns from Amnesty International for fine examples:  Imagine or Bullet: the execution.     

An art work by Banksy, on the Thekla Social en...

Art work by Banksy, Image via Wikipedia


  Or on the lighter side, yet every bit as poignant, check out the work of Banksy, a street artist famous for his sense of humor and dedication to anonymity.  (On that topic, the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop is a must see for anyone intrigued by street art.  Was it real or all a set-up?)  The Beehive Design Collective swarms in Maine using collective graphic media to tour with an environmental and social justice message.  On a global level, I’ve always admired the way Oxfam photographs convey hope, the positive side of what a difference your support creates in the world.  Greenpeace, on the other hand, can disgust you with images of oil soaked birds and dying whales or make you laugh at the protest consisting of Whales on Segways. For another great feel-good moment that advocates for peace and multiculturalism watch Playing for Change – artists around the world singing Stand by Me.   If you are more into journalism and creative writing, check out Spare Change News:  an activist newspaper that helps the homeless help themselves.   Then dive into the website of Artists Striving to End Poverty: global artists creating positive change for young people in need.   The list seems endless and the need overwhelming.  The real question is, will the arts move you to action? Where do we begin?   


Image via Wikipedia





Eliminating Distractions   Leave a comment

It is my passion to find the best practices for teaching and fostering creativity in my students.  One of the most helpful books I have discovered is Flow, a book that spells out the conditions necessary for optimal creative experiences.   The author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a well-known psychology and management professor, identifies a handful of factors that prevent creative thought.   It is no surprise that distractions are high on the list. 

meditating in my backyard

 Combating distractions is tough in this stressful world and the only successful tool I know of is meditation which has, in many ways, changed my life.   The practice of meditation not only helps focus our attention but it is also a proven stress reducer.  Want to give it a try?  I recommend Mindfulness: in plain English by Gurnaratana or if you don’t want to buy a book, check out the Buddhanet resources and guides to meditation.   I’ve even found some very relaxing meditation timers –  bells you can download free to your IPod and take anywhere.

 For another perspective on distractions, check out this College Humor YouTube video.  (click to open new window)

 More thoughts on blocks to creativity coming soon…