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

Mind Your Creativity

Mind Your Creativity

We are by nature creative beings.  Creativity is innate to who we are, it is a fundamental part of our nature and important to our individual and community well-being.

Left Brain – Right Brain

Our brains are made up of two different sides, two hemispheres, with each hemisphere in control of different ways of thinking.  The right side of our brain is responsible for creativity, while the left side is responsible for more logical and fact-based thought.

Left Brain

Logical
Rational
Analytical
Objective
Looks at parts
Detail oriented
Fact based thoughts
Words and language
Present and past
Math and science
Order and pattern perception
Reality based

Practical

Right Brain

Random
Intuitive
Holistic
Subjective
Looks at wholes
Big picture oriented
Imagination

Symbols and images

Present and future

Philosophy & religion

Spatial perception

Fantasy based

Risk taking

Individuals may be more inclined to be more “left brained” or “right brained”, but we are all born with the ability to tap into each side and use our whole brain. You can try this short quiz to see which may be your dominant hemisphere (I’m about evenly split between my right-brain and left-brain).

Cultivating Creativity

Our culture plays a large part in how we develop our brains.  Our education system and workforce help shape and establish how we think.  In a society that values left brain thinking, logic, analysis and accuracy over aesthetics, feeling, and creativity, we end up developing the left side of our brain while our more creative side is underdeveloped.

In recent year there has been a lot written on the importance of creativity – researchers are trying to measure it, city leaders tout their creative communities and some state that creative capital is needed for global change.  We are beginning to recognize the value of creativity.

Creativity isn’t just about art, it is about original ideas and different perspectives.  Creative thinking stimulates curiosity and can generate new ideas, and as individuals and communities it is in our interest to be creative in terms of how we approach problems and develop solutions.

More Info On Creativity

If you are interested in learning more about creativity and our brain here are a few suggestions:

  • I highly recommend watching Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor speak at T.E.D. about her experience having a stroke, she offers amazing insight on how the different sides of our brain work.
  • Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind addresses the importance of right brain skills in the professional sectors, and it is a fairly easy read.
  • I also like The Cultural Creatives by Ray and Anderson, a Sociologist and Psychologist who conducted years of research and write on a growing shift in American culture.

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.

Take Five! 5 Reasons & Creative Ways to Take a Break

I Took a Break

For the month of July I took a break from SpeakArtLoud work. I limited my time on Twitter, held back on posts to Facebook, did not write blogs, delayed work on our program planning and even conducted our quarterly board meeting via email.

Taking a break is important.  I know that, I’m sure you know that, but taking a break is not always easy to do, at least for me.  

I like working, I like the feeling of accomplishing something, and I especially enjoy working on SpeakArtLoud.

However, taking a break is good for the mind, body and spirit.  Taking a break – whether that break is a vacation away, an evening off, or an extra 15 minutes over morning coffee – time away from your normal routine and responsibilities is invaluable.

5 Reasons to Take a Break – Taking a break is an important part of self care and can help to stimulate your creative energy. Here are five reasons why you should take a break.

  1. Be Happy Taking a break can help reduce stress and can give you a chance to do things you enjoy, perhaps things you do not always have time for.  Do not down play the importance of happiness, happy people live longer and are healthier.
  2. Increase ProductivityAfter taking a break you come back refreshed and able to offer more energy to your work. It is amazing what a week off or even just a long lunch can do. Time away allows us to both rest and be stimulated.
  3. Remember What You Love Sometimes time away can help you fall back in love with what you are doing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know.  Or time away may be just what you need to help you reconnect with your true passion and inspire you to pursue a new path.  Either way, time away can help you remember what it is you truly care about giving your time and energy to.
  4. Get UnstuckTime off can help you generate new ideas. Doing the same thing or keeping a routine is comfortable but you can soon find yourself in a rut. Try taking a break, or just changing your routine, as this can help generate fresh ideas. 
  5. Balance – Finding balance is something I struggle with personally.  Its easy to get gung-ho about something you love but it is important to break and remember that family, friends, exercise and hobbies are important parts of our lives.  Take time to enjoy all of who you are.

5 Creative Ways to Take a Break – We do not always have the opportunity to take a vacation, or completely step away from our daily responsibilities.  Sometimes you need to be creative in how you take a break.  Here are 5 ways that you can easily take a break, no vacation time required.

  1. Get Crafty – No serious art skills are needed, just some paper, pencils, scissors, tape or similar supplies.  Keep it simple, just spend a few minutes being creative.  When I’m feeling stuck at the office I get creative with a bit of white-out, colored sharpies and out-of- date promotional magnets.
  2. Look at Vacation Photos – Pull out the photo album or open the electronic file with your last vacation pictures and look at the pictures.  Heck, you don’t even need to look at your pictures, go to Flickr, breeze through someone else pics and imagine your self away for a few minutes.
  3. Doodle – Just let your pen go! Don’t think too hard, don’t worry about drawing something specific – just follow the line.  This is a great way to take a mini-break.
  4. Take a Nap – It doesn’t need to be a long nap, a cat-nap will do, but catch a few extra minutes of shut eye and let your mind and body rest.  Sleep is healing!
  5. Flower Power – Take a walk and pick a handful of flowers from various spots along the way, folks usually don’t mind if you take only one or two cuttings from their garden.  Arrange the flowers with some added greenery and enjoy.  You get double points for this one because of the added value walking offers.

What I Learned From My Break

This break helped me to understand how important time off is and that I need to take time for myself.

Initially I felt guilty about taking time away from SpeakArtLoud. This is work I care about and I feel a sense of responsibility to those who support us.

With some time away, I soon recognized that I was stressed, I was tired and I needed this time off.  I did not realize that earlier, it was only with time away that recognized how I was feeling.

During my time off I came up with some new ideas for SpeakArtLoud. I have a clearer vision of the steps we need to take over the next year and I am excited about sharing my ideas with the board in September at our annual meeting. Without the time and room to think I do not believe I would have had the same insight.

Further Inspiration – If you are looking for further inspiration or ideas for taking a break here are some useful sites:

15 Quotes on Art: Thoughts on Women’s Voice, Creating a Vision, & Coming Together

15  Quotes on Art
Thoughts on Women’s Voice, Creating a Vision, &
Coming Together

I’d like to share with you a few thoughtful quotes.  I’ve organized the quotes into three areas that I am especially passionate about, women’s voice, creating a vision, & coming together.

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Women’s Voice

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


I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.
~  Nikki Giovanni

If you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain.
~ Dolly Parton

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
~Maya Angelou

All great art is a visual form of prayer.
~ Sister Wendy Beckett

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Creating a Vision

Some stories are true that never happened.
~ Elie Weisel

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.
~ John Cage

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
~Aristotle

Painting is stronger than I am. It makes me do whatever it wants.
~ Picasso

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
~Mark Twain

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Coming Together

What an artist is trying to do for people is bring them closer to something, because of course art is about sharing: you wouldn’t be an artist if you didn’t want to share an experience, a thought.
~ David Hockney

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
~Dr. Seuss


No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
~ John Donne

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

For art to be relevant, artists must address the social and spiritual issues of our time.
~ Suzi Gablik

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Do you have a favorite art related quote? Please feel free to share!


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!