Vision for the New Year – Organizational Goals and Big Dreams

Vision for the New Year – Organizational Goals and Big Dreams

Happy New Years friends!  We took a bit of a break to enjoy the holidays and to reflect and recharge. With the start of the New Year comes new energy and continued commitment to our mission and vision. We are happy to be back to work on SpeakArtLoud!

Looking Back

The idea for SpeakArtLoud sprang to life in a workshop in the fall of 2009 (this is also where Board members met one another), since then we have been working on creating SpeakArtLoud. We each are busy with jobs, family and other community activities, but slowly, over time, we have made great strides.

This past fall SpeakArtLoud attained non-profit status, this was a big hurdle and it means that we can now begin a new chapter in our development. We are looking forward to what comes next!

Goals are dreams with deadlines.
~Diana Scharf Hunt

Organizational Goals

As an organization we are very young and we know there is still much to learn and much to do, but we are so excited about the future!

This year we will begin by focusing on the following:

  • Expanding our Board – Look for an announcement soon (consider applying!)
  • Developing a Curriculum – We’ll seek funding and a curriculum writer (hello art therapists!)
  • Partnering with Others – Research and reaching out will keep us busy (connect with us!)

As we work on these goals we may also seek out advice and assistance. We may look for advisers and volunteers or ask questions from friends on Facebook and Twitter (we really appreciate those who already have so graciously helped us, thank you friends!).

I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline & creativity is daring to dare.
~ Maya Angelou

Big Dreams

We believe having a vision, something big to work toward, is important in creating your future.

So, dreaming big and looking beyond 2012, SpeakArtLoud has a long-term goal of working at an international level. This is a big dream but we believe it is possible.

We know that art is everywhere and that equality for woman is a global concern.  By partnering with organizations locally, nationally and abroad we believe we can use the arts to empower women and improve communities around the world.

Together we can create a beautiful future!

10 Quotes to Inspire You: Thoughts on Creating the Future

10 Quotes to Inspire You
Thoughts on Creating the Future

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The best way to predict the future is to invent it. – Alan Kay

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Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.  – Ella Fitzgerald

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There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  Your playing small does not serve the world. – Marianne Williamson

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I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life. – Miles Davis

The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source. – Lucretia Mott

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Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and help them become what they are capable of being. – Goethe

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In the long run men hit only what they aim at. – Henry David Thoreau

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Dreams are necessary to life. – Anais Nin

The Art of Inspiration and Insight

The Art of Inspiration and Insight

With the new year comes thoughs of new possibilities.  There is something about the change in the calendar that stirs our desire to engage in creating our future.

At this time of year we like to be inspired to think in new, positive ways that help us to sort out our life and to see things differently. We want to be more insightful, to better understand ourselves and the world around us.

Inspire

Definition of Inspire – (1) Heighten or intensify; (2) Prompt; (3) Cheer, spur on, or encourage; (4) Revolutionize, fill with revolutionary ideas; (5) Inhale, draw in air

Inspiration is all about looking outward and engaging with new ideas.

Inspiration, that oh-so-mysterious element that may be hard to describe but one we recognize when it arrives, is what helps to compel us forward.  Inspiration may arrive as an ah-ha moment or a still small voice or a fire in our belly; it may arrive suddenly or we may slowly realized it was something we had with us all along.

Inspiration is what gives us new ways of seeing and of being in the world.  There is a life-force intrinsic in inspiration (inspire also means to breathe); it is in our nature to be engaged with creating, envisioning and bringing new ideas into being.

Art can inspire us. Art stimulates our mind, while creating or engaging with art we experience colors, patterns, shapes, and textures, using our brain in a different way.  Art presents ideas and perspectives that may be different from what we are most familiar with, encouraging us to explore other points of view.  The composition of images, music or performance offers an opportunity to examine aesthetic arrangements, either one you are creating in your own work or the artist’s composition, which can open us up to new ways of putting things together. Creative thinking stimulates new ideas and inspires us.

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Insight

Definition of Insight (1) Discern the true nature of a situation; (2) Grasping the inward or hidden nature of things; (3) Perceiving in an intuitive manner; (4) Ability to perceive clearly or deeply; (5) Ability to understand one’s own problems

Insight is all about looking inward and understanding inner nature.

Insight, we may think of it as a hunch or intuition or the ability to read a situation, is what helps us to better understand our feelings and reactions.  Insight also helps us to understand the emotions and motives of others. Insight may come from time spent in thought, from conversations or from our interactions in the world.

Insight is what gives us a greater understanding of attitudes and beliefs, both our own and others, and increases our ability to connect at an emotional level.  There is a personal, introspective quality in insight (insight is about looking in), by connecting with ourselves we become more thoughtful and better able to connect with others.

Art can encourage insight. Thoughtful, quiet time creating or experiencing art gives us the space to connect with our self and our emotions. In art symbols and metaphors are used to communicate underlying thoughts and feelings, ones that we may not yet understand or may have difficulty communicating. Through art we can also experience others emotional expressions, through imagery, rhythm and materials we can sense the thoughts and feelings imbedded in the work art.  Creative expression provides a better understanding of feelings and offers insight.

Creating Our Future

As this new year begins, the feeling of possibility fresh in the air, remain open to the inspiration and insight that the arts offer.  Look to art to stimulate your thoughts and to inspire new ideas.  Engage with art to connect with your emotions and develop greater insight.

Domestic Violence & How Art Can Help

My First Job

My first job after college was in a domestic violence shelter.  I served as the Donation Coordinator and most of my time was spent helping women who were leaving the shelter get the basics to set up a new home –  toiletries, drinking glasses, and bedding were always in demand.  I also coordinated with other community-based organizations so that we could refer women to agencies to help them with traveling to a different city or finding a new apartment.

Some of the women leaving were overwhelmed at the idea of starting over, finding a new place to live and piecing together a household from hand-me-down items is not easy and can be especially difficult when your body and soul are wounded.  I know that some women returned to an abusive situation because they were not ready to brave a new beginning.

Supporting Women

Since that time I have continued to think about how we can best support women who are trying to leave an abusive situation so that they do not feel as if they have no choice but to return.  Clearly, more funding and greater legal protection would have a positive impact, but beyond that how do we support women so that they can find their strength to create their own future?

Domestic violence is not easy to talk about.  People often feel a great sense of shame for being in an abusive relationship and are worried about being judged or seen as victims. Leaving any relationship is complicated, there may be children, a shared household, financial dependence and a romantic relationship that had some really great times, untangling feelings of fear, anger and love is difficult. Sometimes the emotional abuse is more damaging than the physical violence, causing women to question their own thinking.

Art Heals And Offers Hope

I believe art has a tremendous potential to help women begin the healing process and in exploring new possibilities for their life.  Creating art can be a healing experience, helping us to relax and open ourselves up to new ideas.

Art is a great way to share an experience and make sense of complex emotions.  Sometimes speaking about an experience is just too difficult, there are things that are hard to say out loud or the experience is beyond what words can convey.  Here, art can be used to share information and to help express feelings.  Creating art it is a safe way to work through emotion and is also not limited by language.

Art is also a great way to help to generate a sense of possibility.  Creating art can helps you get in touch with yourself and allows you to begin exploring new ideas.  Using our imagination opens the door to all endless the possibilities, helps move us one step forward in creating something unique, and personal.  For those who have lose a sense of themselves art helps to restore who we are and opens us up to new ideas.

More Information on Domestic Violence and Art Programs

Telling without Talking: Breaking the Silence of Domestic Violence

Art Therapy and Domestic Violence from the International Art Therapy Organization

A Window Between Worlds is a non-profit organization dedicated to using art to help end domestic violence

Imagination is a Powerful Force

Imagination is a Powerful Force

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Albert Einstein

Imagination is creativity, hope, potential and freedom all rolled up into one.

The act of imagining may start off as fanciful and maybe even feel a bit indulgent, but our imagination is a powerful force and has helped to generate great ideas.  The human ability to imagine can propel us into action and bring about change.

Our imagination offers freedom to be creative and can give us something to not only hope for but to also work toward.  Through imagination we craft a vision of something new, something different, something better and when you combine creative ideas and a vision of something different change starts to happen.

Imagination and Our Future

“We do not need magic to transform our world.
We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already;
we have the power to imagine better.”
J.K. Rowling

Imagination is important to our own individual future as well as the future of our communities, countries and world.  In your imagination you can be your truest self, your best self.  You can visualize what it is you wish to do or to be, building energy and inspiration to pursue your vision.

Imagination can  be used to envision what the future for society my hold.  You can imagine changes in your community, new ways of conducting business, educating children or commuting.  These ideas may inspire you into action or, if shared with others, help to build momentum for change.

Imagination can also help us empathize with others; we can imagine what it is to walk in someone else’ shoes, making us more understanding of others experiences.  The ability to imagine can make us more thoughtful and understanding of others.

How to Imagine

“I shut my eyes in order to see”
Paul Gaugin

Art is one way to tap into our imagination.  Making art or experiencing art can help us let go of our logical thinking and get in touch with our more creative side.  Making art helps you tap into you’re the creative side of your brain .  Experiencing art – looking at paintings, watching a play or reading a good book – also engages your right brain, helping to release your imagination.

Here a few more simple ways to increase your ability to imagine:

  • Daydream – We all did it as kids but somewhere along the way daydreaming stopped.  Give yourself permission to let your mind wander, jump from thought to thought and see where you land.
  • Storytelling – If you have kids you might already do this, but if you are child-free or your children are grown you probably haven’t made up a story in ages.  Try it with a few friends, its fun to make up ghost stories, fairy tales or create an alternate universe.
  • Change Your Environment – Your surroundings help establish your state of mind.  Take yourself out of your normal routine – eat lunch in the park instead of at your desk, change the side of the bed you sleep on, rearrange your furniture – and give your mind a new setting to explore.

Imagination and Action

“Before you can do something that you’ve never done before,
you have to imagine it’s possible.”
Jean Shinoda Bole

Imagination is powerful, but we must remember that to create change imagination must be coupled with action.  Tapping into our imagination can help to uncover new perspectives and different points of view, but it is then important to bring those ideas forward, share with others, discuss new possibilities and then take steps to implement.

Without action our dreams will never be our lives.

Further Reading on Imagination

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.”
Albert Einstein

Why Imagine the Future by Elise Boulding, Sociology Professor (Emerita) Dartmouth College

In What Ways Might Imagination Improve Society? – 206 Ideas

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,  J.K. Rowling Commencement Address at Harvard Alumni Association.

Women’s Words, Voice and Vision

Women Artists and Cultural Change

Cleaning out my home office I came across an old syllabus from my first art history class, “Women Artists and Cultural Change”, a class I took at the suggestion of a favorite sociology professor who knew of my interest in gender, feminism and social change. It was in this class that I started to become aware of the role art plays in cultural change.

Though I no longer have the xerox copies of the articles handed out in class (wow, college before the web) I did manage to find one of the items, “And Now A Few Words From Jenny Holtzer” ,  from the Women and Words portion of the curriculum.

Women and Words

Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger are now both well-known artists who, using techniques reminiscent of advertising, incorporate text in their art work.  Both Holzer and Kruger call attention to social issues in their art and often displayed their work in non-traditional settings.

Jenny Holzer’s truisms, delivered like slogans, were often projected on to buildings or displayed in public settings, these provoking thoughts becoming part of the public space.  Barbara Kruger’s art also became part of the public space as her images were included on posters, shopping bags and t-shirts.

I think I developed language skills to deal with threat. It’s the girl thing to do-you know, instead of pulling out a gun ~ Barbara Kruger

After rereading the piece on Holtzer and reminiscing about my experience in this class I started thinking about women’s voice and including women’s ideas in public dialogue.

Raising Women’s Voice

We know that women are the key to healthy children, strong families and stable communities.  The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has conducted a wealth of research on the topic and Nicholas Kristoff’s book Half the Sky and the Half the Sky Movement are rich with stories and data that support this.  Put very simply, if we want a better world we need to engage and empower women.

It is important that we help to raise women’s voices and listen to women’s ideas. As we think about the future and work to improve our communities, our nation, our world, it is essential that we include insight and commentary from women as part of the public dialogue.

This may also mean that we need to raise our own voice, to share our thoughts and express our ideas. This, of course, can be intimidating.  How do we begin to voice our ideas or encourage others to share thoughts?  Here is where I believe art can be a very power tool in creating change.

Creating a Vision

Art is a powerful medium for self expression, but it is also an effective tool in raising awareness and stimulating social change. Art is a way to convey a message, to call attention to a situation, and a way to express new ideas for the future. Art allows us to express our ideas, to raise our voice and share a vision for the future.

I believe that tapping into the power of art can be a very effective tool in raising women’s voice, including your own voice. Here are a few ways you can use art in this way:

  • Make it a priority to spend time being creative, creative ideas will change the world
  • Have a craft night with friends and make things that can be reused
  • Buy original art and think about the creative energy that went into it
  • Look at and discuss art that makes you uncomfortable
  • Host a movie discussion, talk about how women are portrayed in film
  • Ask artist questions about their work
  • Tell people about your art, what it means to you and why you create
  • Do not be afraid to make art that addresses social issues
  • Start a book club, discuss work by women writers, a few of my favorite
  • Take an art class, dance class, film class – try something new for you
  • Ask a friend to take an art class with you
  • Keep art materials on-hand

Engaging with art can help us in finding our voice. Through creating or experiencing art we begin to think about what we are capable of designing, expressing and making real. Art gives us a way to make something new.  We begin exploring new ideas and can start to create a vision for the future.

In thinking about my first art history class, the work of artists Jenny Holtzer and Barbara Kruger, and importance of women in creating a future I recognize how important art is in creating cultural change, and it is this change that will lead us to new ideas for the future.

Our Mantra: Creating the Future

Creating the future is our mantra.

This simple three word phrase
creating * the * future
expresses what we do, what we value, what we are working toward and what we believe to be possible.

We believe that we can create the future.

We will create the future.


How are we creating the future you ask?

We think a good place to start is with women.  We know that the single most effective way to improve communities is to improve the well-being of women and there is a great deal of research that supports this. Journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn recent book and organization Half the Sky and the United Nations both offer information on how when you improve the lives of women, families and communities benefit.

“Women have plans for themselves, for their children, about their home, the meals. They have a Vision.  A man wants to enjoy himself.”
~ Grameen Bank’s Muhammad Yunus to a US Congressional Forum on why94% of his loans go to women.

How Does Art fit in?

Art is our medium in this work.  We know that art is a powerful way to communicate. The International Art Therapy Association highlights how art has been used as a tool in individual and community transformation. Our art class gives women a way to think about and express their ideas for their future. Then, our art show brings people together and gives community members a chance to view the women’s art work and think about new possibilities.

This is how we are creating the future  – Women * Art * Community

Now it’s your turn.  Take a moment and think about creating the future.  Really, go ahead, give yourself the freedom to imagine what you would like for your future. Who would you be? What would you do?  How would you feel?  Pretty powerful, huh?

Now think about the future of your community….. the future of the world.

Think about creating the future.  Then do it!

Join us in creating the future!