Monday, October 09, 2006

Lessons from Expressive Arts Conference

I’m very glad to have attended the Expressive Arts Conference and want to report my major “lessons learned.”

1. Stick with the painting process. In
Pat Allen’s class we drew for what seemed like forever (I think it was 2.5 – 3 hours) until a break. As usual, I was quick to put my image down and then what? What to do for all this time??? There was great music playing loudly which took me to a place where I was “drawing to the beat”, just letting my hand move across the paper in alignment with the beat. Sort of put me into a trance. But the time seemed to drag on and on. Then lunch. Then back to the painting! Yikes! Dialogue with the painting … what does it want? Boy that was scary. I hadn’t formed a deep enough relationship with the painting yet to have real dialogue! But as time went on, I realized there was something missing and I able to see more clearly what was really going on.

In the Touch Painting session with
Deborah Koff-Chapin, we stayed with the creation/drawing process for a period way beyond boredom. The process of touch painting is very quick; a series of paintings is done quickly without analysis, just painting one sheet after another. (The analysis comes later in the witness.) I found myself needing to go to the bathroom, so I took a short break. I got bored several times during the period of painting, which was about 2 hours. But I stayed with the process, continuing to draw, and some level of deepness occurred, only interrupted by my inability to really express myself through imagery (but that is another story.)

By staying with the painting or process, and allowing the boredom to happen, you have the opportunity to go deeper. What I realize now is that the boredom is a sign of fear of going deeper – Aha! Not just fear that I can’t get to the imagery (a technicality), but fear of what is really there to be examined? “I just wanna have fun” … Is that really true? Am I really that shallow?

2. We must become comfortable in the pain. If we immediately move out of pain, we only address the surface with short-term fixes. If we stay in the pain, we have the opportunity to locate the center, the root, the “real problem.” Wow. I know this, I teach this in my organizational change class. But do I really “know” it? We must be careful not to rush to solution-finding. We must ask questions about the presenting problem – from lots of people to gain broader perspective. What is going on for you? And you? And you? From these responses, we get closer to what is really going on.

"Don’t just do something. Stand there." Great quote by Daniel Barrigan? In the standing there, we can invite images of transformation.

3. We must be the light in the darkness. The world is so dark right now … using expressive arts, we can become pockets of light. Again, this is what I teach. My students say that their organizations aren’t ready for real transformative thought and action. I counter this with my observations that within even the most bureaucratic organization there are teams or departments where transformation is occurring. My challenge is to facilitate my students becoming the pocket of light within their organizations. I must help them tap into their own creative source and energy, allowing them to receive the images of transformation that they can then take back into the workplace. My students must do the inner work and reach their own clarity, their own truth, to counter falling prey to the clarity and truth of others.

Even though I’m not an expressive arts specialist, I felt welcomed and at home. There are parallels to my organizational leadership world. While clinical psychologists help individuals transform, I help organizations transform. Modalities such as drumming are powerful tools for organizational development … harnessing the energy of the group and creating a strong sense of community. Thank you
Jane Goldberg for providing this space!

1 comment:

Karoda said...

Sounds like a great conference and the lessons you've received are priceless...I think I was challenged to learn the first one on your list just today.