Expressive Art as a Personal and Professional Journey to Restore Faith in Humanity
Short Artist Statement
Drawing on the new genre of social engagement , expressive art empowers me to be an effective leader for peace in co-creation with Spirit. I have been building on UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold’s work for a spiritual renaissance for over 25 years in the United Nations.
Before I start each piece, I ask “how do I let my soul speak?” With expressive art, I claim my deepest visions and bring forth unconscious parts of myself, calming inner turmoil or fear. Healing images then arise from my brush.
I use images to heal local and global challenges through a sacred container, where hearts and minds knit together, one soul at a time, for a spiritual renaissance. Art activates visionaries’ dreams through this partnership in a new definition of politics and politician.
My work invites American souls to heal by offering images to a Phoenix reborn amid ground zero’s ashes, revealed in a dream while in New York City on 9/11. My Soul’s Journey to Redefine Leadership: A New Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of 9/11, chronicles why I brought my resources from 25 years of teaching Reconciliation Leadership at the UN to the U.S. at this critical moment in history.
Long Artist Statement
For the past twenty years, my commitment has been to access my soul through expressive art. This art expression allows me to experience life more deeply by learning how to use color/shape to let my feelings and deepest visions speak. I am a high feeler in a thinking world that disavows feelings. Expressive art also allows me to express unknown parts of myself, my unconscious, to be known. I have found that expressing feelings with expressive arts helps both my own journey as well as my clients to put the more bothersome feelings to rest. Art calms my inner turmoil and feelings that won’t go away. After I have acknowledged these feelings in my paintings, they dissipate and go away. Then I can put color to the paper in a new way!
I ask these questions before I start each piece:
How do I let my soul speak?
- How do I release feelings that cannot be put into words?
- How do I capture the joy of my life?
- How do I tap into my “still small voice”?
- How can I give feelings a voice including feelings that bother me and won’t go away?
- How can I capture the anger, sadness, joy and sorrows and other feelings of my life?
This practice has also been used successfully in my professional life—either in my private practice as a therapist, as a mediator at Worcester’s Burncoat High, or as a consultant and trainer introducing people to Reconciliation Leadership, the leadership I developed over 25 years at the United Nations. It is very helpful to find answers to global challenges through art.
I then can integrate the image that represents peace, calmness, joy, happiness or any other feeling or state of mind to acknowledge! By acknowledging and making feelings important and conscious, the strong feelings subside and give way to feelings of peace, joy and calmness. At this point, I can access a pre-verbal state that includes my deepest visions for peace that I’ve been given so that I begin a peace project. I cannot control my emotions unless I recognize and express them. If I don’t, they end up controlling me! Feelings are neither right nor wrong—they just are. If I express feelings appropriately and take responsibility for them my best efforts to succeed will bear fruit, both personally and professionally.
This is a technique easily learned to teach to others to become calm when upset, anxious or angry. I have used expressive arts in stress management classes, in the mediation room and in my private practice with children, teens and adults. All that is needed is a safe, nonjudgmental environment where an invitation to express feelings and images on paper.
When I was appointed by Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilley to become a mediator at Burncoat Senior High, the students found the process so helpful that they lined up at the door to my mediation room asking if they could paint their feelings. Students and clients have felt that art can enhance expression of feeling and concerns to help solve problems through verbal and non-verbal communication. Sometimes artists become clients when their creativity has dried up!
In one (of many) United Nations courses I taught for the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace, I had an expert speak on Millennium Goal #1, “Halving Global Poverty” by the Year 2015. Then I gave the students a chance to respond with their images teaching them what my mentor, the late Dr. Elise Boulding, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and professor emeritus at Dartmouth College taught me: unless we can access images as solutions to the world’s problems, we don’t have any idea on how to resolve them. One group of students imaged the end of global poverty and then made a timeline where the world has reversed its stance from sovereignty and self interest to a world of global citizenship—”Me to We.” After they made their group images from their individual images, they then made a concrete action plan with first steps they would accomplish the day after they left the five-day course. To view these and other images participants did to address global challenges in the United Nations, go to https://plus.google.com/112411736824110087597.
In the past years I exhibited my art twice at the Worcester Sprinkler Factory Gallery (first at Various Artists, Various Media in May 2016 and then at a show on Masks) as a way to introduce my artistic endeavors. Continuing in 2018, I took an Exhibitions Class at Worcester Art Museum and am in the student show as well as showing at the Arts Worcester “One” show on June 15. 2018.
In my new project, America’s Soul Café, I also use expressive art. I tell participants that everyone is needed to reconcile the deep divides in our country. I ask them to draw an image that can be offered to the Phoenix, revealed in a dream I had while I was New York City on 9/11/01. The Phoenix, revealed itself as America’s and the Global Soul, rose out of the ashes of ground zero inviting Americans to heal their souls, one by one. Phoenix gave me a new way to look at 9/11. My new book, My Soul’s Journey to Redefine Leadership: A New Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of 9/11, chronicles why I brought all my resources from 25 years teaching leadership at the United Nations to the United States at this critical moment of our history.
America’s Soul Café, the World Café and Wiser Together embodies discovery tools that helps a large group understand a set of issues at their own pace. It’s great for helping people reach a state of common understanding and alignment.
I believe a spiritual renaissance happens one soul at a time. America’s Soul Café and Wiser Together is one way to begin. The Cafe is an online free community building environment called the world cafe. It is also based on a new definition of politics and politician I defined and wrote in my master’s thesis from Lesley University in 1993.