Learning From Baldwin and Embracing the Journey

And so my first blog offering begins…

Wednesday was the end of a two day intensive workshop for Pages. For two full days the educators and artists came together to brainstorm, spitball, jump into creative exercises and begin to build the bones of what the 2017/18 Pages will be. The journey has begun.

James Baldwin said, “I am saying that a journey is called that because you cannot know what you will discover on the journey, what you will do with what you find, or what you find will do to you.”

Being a newcomer to Pages and knowing intimately the infinite morphing of what that creative process can do, I came away from those two days inspired and having no idea what I’m doing. You think you’ll know. I prepped and studied, organized and anticipated. I thought I had my finger on the pulse of how I would be needed or how to contribute. However, in a word–nope. This is the beauty of how the universe works, how the creative process and its unpredictability never disappoints, and how some of our most necessary challenges find us. Having said all this, some of the most important takeaways from the time spent together were:

  1. we are involved in a unique and fluid collaborative made up of smart, engaged, talented, and caring individuals
  2. we are all a bit unsure, nervous but excited and committed
  3. we are all willing to take challenges and feel slightly uncomfortable for the sake of supporting and enriching students
  4. we are in good hands as we follow a safe, creative, and sure-footed leader who founded this project at The Wexner Dionne Custer Edwards
  5. and we are all deeply invested to do the best job we can to serve young people by contributing to their education and involving them in an experience different from anything they might ever encounter.

We viewed strange and wonderful creations by Cindy Sherman, were shaken and empowered by the words and work of James Baldwin, and bathed in the transformative musical inventiveness of Kronos. Though I may have been temporarily thrown off course to understand my place in this collaborative, my temporary self-indulgence paled in comparison to the creative riches of those two days. Here’s a list of words that I hoarded from the workshops:

noise, disturbing, quiet, nervous, chaos, passionate, identity, uncertainty, power, truth, freedom, connections, creativity, witness, artistry, safe, evidence, fear, engaging, brutality, morality, brilliance, humanity, uncomfortable, injustice, love, provocative, peace, unsettling, inspiring, unknown.

The mixed bag of thoughts and feelings we will undoubtedly recognize when we meet our students as we create a new chapter to Pages.

The creative process can be delicious but it also demands the doubts, the fears, the not knowing: the resistance. As artists, and indeed as humans, we need that resistance to rub against the love and passion to create something real, something honest, sometimes ugly, and sometimes lovely.

At the end of the day, we will all be on this creative adventure together to learn and embrace this incredible opportunity. It would seem that we have already succeeded before we’ve begun because, like Baldwin so clearly understood, we also know intuitively that we need one another to make a way. We understand this because this collaborative  journey is creating something larger than ourselves.

Time to make the donuts.

Time to get to work!

2 Comments

  • Jill commented on September 1, 2017 Reply

    Love this. Still searching for my place in things.

  • Alexis Wilson commented on September 1, 2017 Reply

    Thank you for reading Jill. You will find your place or it will find you.

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