Saturday, September 11, 2010

Creativity and Inclusivity

Twice a year, downtown Dayton Ohio throws a big street party called Urban Nights. It's a night when some 30,000 walk around downtown and participate in whatever strikes their fancy. Art is everywhere, dance, music, food. Lots of it is organized, lots of it is not. It's wonderful! Since I teach Zentangle classes at one of the galleries (Gallery 510 on Fifth Street), Peg Farmer (my CZT buddy) and I thought it would be fun to do a large community Zentangle out in front of the gallery. Passersby could participate in creating the art, or simply watch. We had no idea what would happen. We were fully prepared to work at encouraging people to make a mark on the 22x28 art paper we had started. What did happen... people stood waiting for their turn to contribute. More than 70 people of all ages added a little tangle or two. Some even came back to add more. What was supposed to start at 5:30 and end at dark (7:30?) went on until 10:30 by the light of the streetlamp. Some folks were fearless, some were shy and needed a little encouragement, and some just wanted to be (lovingly) badgered into making a mark. Some really wanted to, but just didn't. Those usually said no by stating that they were not a creative person and they didn't want to 'mess it up'. Even when they saw that we allowed for anyone and everyone, regardless of their age or skill, they still would not.
    We hear it more often than not: "I'm not a creative person." It seems there are many people who believe they are innately excluded from the 'creative club.' Somehow we all bought into the idea that there even is such a club. And as clubs often do, claim their exclusivity like it's some kind of prize. Exclusivity is not a prize. It excludes. It keeps people out, it makes them feel 'less than.' Once that box is made, it has the potential to shut down the creative process in others, when the whole idea of the 'creative club' was probably started in order to bolster creativity. Doesn't make sense to me.
    What I love about the Zentangle art form is its potential for inclusivity. It doesn't require artistic skill to be enjoyed. It allows for all kinds of brains, personalities, and viewpoints to enjoy the experience at once and together, and each at their own pace. It's an art form that allows a line to go in whatever direction it can, and a circle to be more of an oval, or even turn into a square. Who really cares where those marks go or what they look like, if creativity is simply about allowing an experience to emerge and just be?
   Here are some photos of folks "doing their thing." A big thanks to all the participants, Gallery 510, and Peg and her husband, George who stayed well past the light of day!





   

12 comments:

  1. Oh! Carole this is just wonderful, I think I will try this at my library. I always like to do things a little on the edge, and Zentangle at the library sounds so fun. A good place to learn something new. I love the idea of the examples to the side so beginners can see what to draw. Great way to Be Creative. Thanks

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  2. Only a few people used the examples, which was surprising. They were all into doing their own thing, which was very fun!

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  3. What a fun event to be part of, and a great way to introduce Zentangle to the community!

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  4. I can't wait to see the finished artwork! What a fantastic idea for participatory art and to introduce Zentangles to people in a fun way -- hooray!

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  5. Great idea!!! I'm curious...did you tangle a couple of spaces ahead of time to get it started? Looks like it was a wonderful evening!

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  6. Diane, we did the border and the main image in ink so the public wouldn't have to make big decisions. We kept the tangle areas small to keep it short and sweet, as there was lots for people to do and see around the city that night.

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  7. Thanks for the terrific idea - definitely one for my future projects folder. Just an aside - I really enjoyed the couple of years I lived in Dayton right after college - a long long time ago - Sounds like it's still a neat place to live.

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  8. Can we see what the completed piece looked like? I am very anxious to see how it turned out! Bravo for bringing the community together!

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  9. It's still being worked on, but once it's finished, yes! I will post.

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  10. That idea is Genius! Wish I was there being free to express my creativity in an easy-going outdoor setting. Great idea for Downtown Roseville.

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