Big Ideas In Books: Inventing Joy by Joy Mangano
Smart Conversations: Smart Woman Chloe DiVita

Expanding Our Imagination with Art

I am a fan of art.

Art in all of its forms - words, pictures, sound, movement,dreams, imagination. As human beings, we are inherently artistic, whether we ever presume to fold that artistic nature into a shareable form or not.

I ask you, if we are not part of nature’s artistic plan, why do we dream in color?

AbandonmentDance(photo credit: Annabelle Denmark)

Art as Action with Sarah Leversee

A week or so ago, I received one of my favorite newsletters, from Art as Action. This is a small group, led by the talented Sarah Leversee. You will find them in Broomfield, Colorado. When I lived in Colorado, I was on the Board of Art as Action, and I must admit I learned more than I taught or shared. .

There is a colorful essence of joy, and purpose, in this group. They change members, year by year, but Sarah, the Founder, has been there for 17 years. I use the word colorful with the hope that attaching it to the words joy and essence will make you think of those colors you love, those colors that make you smile, those colors that bring laughter to your voice.

I hope you will feel the colors on your eyelids, and in your heart.

I want you to bring them into your inner soul, the place your dreams whisper to you.

I want you to ease them out into the light of day and look at them. Really look at them.

If you look at them, instead of away, you will learn great things about your own magic.

And, if you embrace your magic, you will understand why I will always feel connected to this group. It has a pulse that reaches across time and place.

The Art as Action newsletter is shared monthly and brings news of events, artistic insight, and a peek inside the soul of the group - especially as it pertains to dance knowing that all forms of movement can be considered dance.

Cry of newborn babies

Singular Excitement

I find a singular excitement in watching talented performers dance. Don’t get me wrong, I love sound and music and singing; I love pictures and museums with fantastic artwork; I love sculptors and writers and people who arrange flowers. But dance is, in my estimation, a combination of all of that.

When I received the Art as Action newsletter just a week ago, it spoke of “art by disabled artists”.

“As we center ourselves as a physically integrative dance company, Art as Action joins the conversation about dance and disability.”

Having watched Sarah grow this organization into a powerful fabric of life, so full of color and texture and sound and dance and music and laughter, combining art and disability with people who have Parkinson’s Disease, alongside those of us who are challenged with the creative need to move our given gift of working arms and legs and bodies, I am forever changed.

The people who dance in Art as Action, whether physically disabled or not, are people of character, and art, and talent. There is more magic in each dance movement than you will see on any Vegas stage, or theater near you. And, there is acceptance of one another, as human beings. Fully human beings.

The Song of the Earth and Newborn Babies

Sometimes I hear the cry of newborn babies, in the performances. The cry of humanity asking merely to be accepted as a human being.

I see and hear the song of the earth, with each movement.

I rejoice in the truth as it unfolds - that as human beings, we are other-abled now and then, and still as precious as gold or diamonds.

And so, the quote Sarah shared in the newsletter, blew me away. From an op-ed in the New York Times, written by dancer/choreographer Alice Sheppard, I take myself, as she advises, “outside the narrowness of such framings”…

Art by a disabled artist is often seen as being tied to the artist's disability status: The art either
recognizes a presumed triumph over that status or responds to the assumed tribulations of
disabled daily life. Sometimes, counter to the artist's actual focus, audiences assume that the
artist’s work is intended to educate nondisabled people about disability rights and etiquette, or
to nudge people to think differently about disability and equity in the world. This is limiting...
As people invested in nuance and complexity, we owe it to ourselves and the creators of the work
to educate ourselves in the traditions and legacies of the community so we can appreciate the work
outside the narrowness of such framings.

To me, women are by our very nature the embodiment of true art. I often talk of talent and magic, and using your voice to stand up and stand out, here at Nurturing Big Ideas. I just believe in big ideas. I spend my life celebrating the truth of who we, as a gender, are - which reminds me of the quote in our newsletter this week’s (you do get our Big Idea News, don’t you?), from journalist Raicho Hiratsuka,

"In the primordial age, woman was once the sun!"

Interestingly, we have forgotten that we were once the sun. We need someone like Sarah Leversee to remind us.

And we know, as we are reminded, that the sun has a moon, and stars, all about. Talent and magic overflow in many hearts, no matter the gender. We can be sun, or moon, or stars, and our abilities or disabilities, our gender or age or any other human frailty, should not hold us back. Not any one of us, male or female, young or ‘old’, full of the grace given to us at birth, or the grace we have sought in dance or art or song.

I asked Sarah to comment on the newsletter quote. I knew I could not write about imagination and creativity and art without her comment. And so, she responded:

Here are my thoughts about that quote: 

Creativity is a human right and every body deserves to experience the expression and abandonment available in dance.  Access and inclusion are often seen as an inconvenience to those of us who are able-bodied, but it is actually an acknowledgement of someone's humanity and their entitlement to exist in this world, safely and completely.  In the same way dance bring us together, access can and should be an opportunity for connection.  Like creativity, access and inclusion are a practice and a process.  

Visit Art as Action today. Embrace the joy. Support the arts by donating $50 in April’s fund raiser. If it’s not April any longer, donate anyway. Art is a deeply human experience. It’s undeniable. It’s necessary.

Talk to me about your art, about the color of magic inside that makes you human and nudges you to take your creativity to the world stage. It’s not that scary - when you have a mentor helping you.


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