- To read the content - 20 minutes
- To do the written activity - 1 hour
- To plan the photo - 20 minutes -1 hour
- To create the photo...?
- Up until this point, we have figured out what we value most.
- We have looked at how to generate ideas.
- We have looked at how to dial down the volume of our inner critic to give us the energy to take action on our favourite ideas that align with our values.
Today we are going to dive into communication.
How can we effectively communicate our ideas to others? Because here is the deal. Creativity is all about communicating your intent to others. If you see a better way of doing things and you want to do it. Well...you need to communicate with others either to help you to do it or to keep them from stopping you from doing something different.
Creativity is Rebellion
Because here is the truth of the matter. True creativity is basically breaking the rules. You need to be a rebel at heart to be truly creative. You must challenge the status quo because otherwise, you are just wearing down a groove from those who have gone before you and not adding to the narrative.
" Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. " Oscar Wilde.
Don't be a sheep.
Art isn't made by sheep. Well incredibly boring art is.
"True art is found at the junction of curiosity, courage, and communication" Mandi Lynn - yes I just quoted myself because I think that is the most intelligent thing I have ever said and I am flagging it so I keep remembering it.
Curiosity because that is the homing beacon for where our personal authenticity and unique superpowers are found. Courage - are we willing to pay the price for evolving this concept to the next level with our own stamp on it? And finally, how will we communicate this idea to ourselves and others in the most elegant and effective manner?
“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”
– Charles Mingus
This starts with listening. Two ears, one mouth... consider using in this ratio.
Because you need to understand your audience. What language do they speak? What change are you attempting to elicit through your work? How can you most effectively get there with those who will be intrigued or challenged by your message? Just don't be boring. Boring will not hook or engage anyone. Especially when daily there are bombarded with the following amounts of data:
Now the other important thing to understand is that your message may not be for everyone. That is cool. In fact the people who your art will most impact may not even be born yet. That is cool too. You just need to first have something worth saying. Something that you feel a spark of passion about. Something that you are willing to experience the difficulties that come with breaking new ground for. But you need to first be clear on your intent.
You can take a photo. But that says squat about you as an artist.
What I hope for you is that you will create an image instead. That you will have intent and purpose behind what you put out into the world and you will use your art to amplify your voice and to cut through the noise. Because boring or things not done with heart...will not stand much of a chance. So find your voice. (And know that this will not happen tomorrow...this is a mission for a lifetime. Just keep asking yourself, does this work bring me joy and light me up on some level, does it move me emotionally and help bring more healing into the world somehow? Sure you can take a photo or you can make a difference. Your call.
Just don't be a jerk
Here is where it gets tricky though. Hitler was an artist. And his most impactful piece of creative work, one that he felt very passionately about was the rise of the Aryan race (which he didn't belong to, and that was weird, but that is for a completely different discussion). And my great-great-great-great-great grandmothers would have been certain that slave ownership was a brilliant idea. And as they were creative they could have come up with infinitely creative was to keep that groove going. Culture and time define what is right for that culture. Hitler and my ancestor would have probably thought they were in the right. And you will probably have an idea that your great great great grandkids will smack their forehead about too. But based on your culture, that idea makes perfect sense...like cosmetic surgery or dieting when the research shows it doesn't work. The point being. Question culture. Question adults. Question yourself. This is what makes you a powerful artist and human.
So the trick here is to understand that before we create, we have a duty to take a moral inventory. One that really boils down to our values, ethics, and morals. Is this thing that I am going to do creating more good in the world or more suffering? This is an important question to ask. Does it create more freedom or does it take freedom from others? Who will it impact? Will their experience of it make them uncomfortable and help them to possibly question cultural norms that have oppressed others? Do you have the courage to face the potential backlash from it if the idea is too new and radical for the audience you have shared it with or for whom it is forwarded to (courage)? Have you done your best to deeply understand as much as possible about the topic you are trying to communicate in your art? Have you listened not just to those who are of a similar opinion but have you safely dialogued with those who do not share your opinion? Because by so doing you will gain greater wisdom and can have a much more nuanced approach to the subject and can possibly represent the similarities in the opposing sides...maybe even creating a safe bridge for others to cross.
One of the best books I have ever read on that topic is called Crucial Conversations.
I'm going to paraphrase a story they told in the book to make a point. As communication consultants, they were brought into a company where there were opposing sides. The management and the workers. The workers had been striking and eventually, the strike dissolved and the workers ended up getting a crappier deal than they had hoped for. They were angry. Management was angry and tensions were high. So they brought in these guys to run a communication workshop. In the workshop he had them go to two separate rooms and write on paper what they most wanted for the company. Then after they did that they asked them to find even one small iota of commonality between the two lists so that they could at least start to build a bridge there. Turns out the lists were almost identical. Things like - contribute to the community, be financially stable and secure. By realizing how they had similar desires their animosity was allowed to fall away and they could begin to work together as a team.
What you are looking for here is Need. What does the opposite side really need? This takes empathy to understand. Marshal Rosenberg created a philosophy of communication called Non Violent communication. We will be exploring his philosophy in greater detail as the weeks progress and in the background of the race riots I felt this quote was the most important one that I could share with you right now.
“Life-alienating communication both stems from and supports hierarchical or domination societies, where large populations are controlled by a small number of individuals to those individuals, own benefit. It would be in the interest of kings, czars, nobles, and so forth that the masses be educated in a way that renders them slavelike in mentality. The language of wrongness, should, and have to is perfectly suited for this purpose: the more people are trained to think in terms of moralistic judgments that imply wrongness and badness, the more they are being trained to look outside themselves—to outside authorities—for the definition of what constitutes right, wrong, good, and bad. When we are in contact with our feelings and needs, we humans no longer make good slaves and underlings.”
― Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
The majority of communication breakdowns happen because of a lack of courage to try and see and understand the feelings and needs of the other person in the conversation. The only control you have in your efforts at communication is to do your own work understanding your needs and your emotions...and stepping up your empathy and your courage game to understand the needs and emotions of the people or group you are trying to communicate with. That is how you build bridges. That is how you get shizza done.
True artists build bridges. Bridges between what is and what they can see as possible. They simply fill in the blanks and show people a way. Artists are visionaries and leaders. They are deeply deeply needed in the world. You are deeply deeply needed in the world. Especially now.
This program is about teaching you photography sure but more we are about helping you to become a HeArtivist. An artist that changes the world with your Heart, your Art, and once you have aligned those to then ultimately... your activism. The photography is just the icing on the cake because it will give you a 1000 words a pop to communicate your vision. And it doesn't require your ability to speak the language of the other to do you communication
So first. What is the change you seek to make? Are you comfortable with what success of your idea could mean? Will your idea make the world a better place? This is the most important question. A crap ton more important than how many ego strokes you get on your socials.
So do you need to go back to the drawing board? If so then brilliant. You are growing and learning. Our first idea is rarely the best one. The best idea is the one that can stand up to critique and debate and the one where you have the energy to defend it.
“Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world.”
—Eddie Adams, TIME MAGAZINE
On that note here is a 5-hour online course that I found about Ethics and Photography. The Photographers Ethical Toolkit.
HOME PLAY CHALLENGE
What to turn in -
One image and one "Opposing Sides" needs assessment written assignment
Empathy challenge this requires about 1 hour to do the exercise and then time to create the image.
- Write for 5 minutes about the things you want to see changed in the world
- Print out these three pages or have them open on other tabs at least but ideal to have them printed and in your A4 journal to refer to:
- Pick one topic to focus on.
- What needs in you would be met if you were successful in helping to change the world in this way?
- write down all of the needs that relate to your cause.
- Then write your thoughts about each of these needs. (save this on a google doc and submit it with your image)
- There is an example that I did below about Body Diversity.
- Try to get into the mind of a person that could possibly feel strongly the opposite to you on your subject.
- What needs could their opinion be seeking to meet in them? (If you are struggling with this you could try and read blog posts that are expressing opinions that are the opposite of your own. Think of it as doing compassionate spying. Read them for the needs that live underneath and try and see if you can understand the emotions that may be generated if those needs aren't met for them, and what positive emotions they are trying to elicit for themselves) . Do the same for yourself ( what emotions do you feel because this issue is unresolved and how would you feel if a solution were found and especially if you were part of that solution?)
- Compare their needs and your needs and consider how you could create an image that might somehow bridge the two opinions and still successfully lead to either your first vision or now a possibly more holistic vision of what could be possible.
- Please note that you do not need to end world hunger with this assignment, or singlehandedly dismantle racism, but what it is going to do is help you flex your empathetic communication muscles, as well as your visual imagination. Tiny steps in understanding build to a much more holistic understanding of the nuances of issues and will help you to create something other than more noise, eventually. But for now...just turn something in. Your best as a beginner trying out new skills. You only "fail" at this assignment by not turning something in. When you hit send on this assignment I want you to do a fist pump and say YUS! Because you freaking deserve it. This is a HARD one and most adults would struggle...and that is precisely why we are in the mess we are in. It isn't about what side you are on. It is about your ability to see the humanity in everyone even your "enemies."
More Bridges - Less Noise
Just start. The first attempts will most likely feel painfully inadequate as a final outcome. But don't worry. We will have you stay with this theme for the rest of the challenges in Click Happy Plus and at more layers of complexity to it and you will have an ever-evolving portfolio of visual bridge building. I can't wait to see your passion in visual form.
To summarize the written assignment
-Pick a topic
-Empathise with the opposing views needs
-See what bridge can be built between the topic and the two sets of needs (your needs and their needs may not be opposing once you do some digging...see where you are similar first)
-Use the colour teal in your image.
An example of homework
Here is an example if you are completely stumped from above.
Step 1: ID a Cause I feel is worth fighting for:
Health At Every Size and Body Diversity Supporters vs. Body / Fat Shamers
Step 2: ID my needs that are met through promoting Body Diversity Acceptance:
- Belonging - If I help expand the awareness of the treasure of each person's body then my body will become more acceptable to others and myself.
- Wellbeing - If I work in this arena more I learn more techniques to treasure my body leading to more wellbeing.
- Respect - When I was body shaming myself I prevented others from respecting me because I didn't respect myself. So by learning to celebrate diversity I become more accepting of myself and open up space for more respect to flow in.
- Empathy - As I work in this field I am gifted with more stories from women who have inflicted body shame on themselves and others, I can see myself and my own actions in theirs, and together we are healing and changing our minds through relating with each other.
- To Matter - Nothing pisses me off more than being dismissed or overlooked because I am a woman of size.
- intimacy - THis journey has given me soul to soul connections with many people once I am willing to open my heart.
- presence - I am learning to stay when the big emotions come and not run to silence or violence (fight or flight).
- truth - The truth is we are all beautiful just from being here. Beauty is a construct of society and fluctuates so choose the truth that brings peace and freedom.
- equality- My fat body is worth just as much as that Instagram stars.
- self-respect - Through going on this journey I have learned to hold myself high and learned what I am capable of.
- effectiveness - My body is a gift, a miracle that allows me to do everything that I want to do as a creative. But this will change over time so celebrate the now.
- participation - My body allows me to participate in life and the only thing holding me back is my mind and how I perceive others will perceive me so stop caring and start doing.
- acceptance - This work has made me much more accepting of bodies of all shapes, and sizes.
- cooperation - This work has helped me learn how to cooperate to get things done.
- ease - There is nothing less "easy" than fighting the skin you are in. The more I do this self-compassion work the easier it is to accept that which I was taught to be ashamed of and shed to useless propaganda against bodies of size.
- appreciation - It is about how you inhabit your body, not its size...confidence and appreciation of your body as a perfect sensual robot suit for your spirit does wonders for your appeal.
- self-expression - By confidently living in my body I am able to truly express myself.
- contribution - Without my body, I could not contribute. My contribution to the world is to help the next generation shed the body shame shackles so they can be free to create uninhibited by rubbish mental dogma perpetuated by a trillion-dollar industry that only succeeds if girls doubt their power and worth.
- to be known - This gives me a platform to meet and support others
- to be seen - No more hiding.
- Beauty - My own unique fat aging beauty...bring on the crone years.
Step 3: Emotions kicked up by these needs not being met:
- Mistrustful, Scared, Worried, disgruntled, indignant, dislike, repulsed, perplexed, alienated, discombobulated, uncomfortable, ashamed, flustered, self conscious, exhausted, worn out, grief, hurt, lonely, envious, jealous, longing, depressed, dejected, disappointed, discouraged, disheartened, anxious, cranky, overwhelmed, stressed out, fragile, guarded, insecure, sensitive, shaky.
Step 4: Emotions that I would feel if I could wave a magic wand and all people respected their own bodies and the bodies of others and treated each other the same regardless of the flesh suit they were wearing.
- Compassionate, friendly, loving, open-hearted, sympathetic, tender, warm, curious, interested, optimistic, encouraged, empowered, proud, safe, secure, appreciative, moved, thankful, touched, wonder, inspired, happy, pleased, thrilled, calm, clear-headed, comfortable, centred, content, relaxed, relieved, serene, trusting, restored, revived
Step 5 Do steps 2-4 but imagine you are a person who shares the opposite view from you.
Possible needs impacted by someone who is uncomfortable with bodies that stray from mainstream medias portrayal that bodies should be light-skinned, with a tiny waist, a thigh gap, but a big bum and big boobs, and for a guy, he must have six-pack abs and large muscles and be tall...and usually light-skinned. Long silky hair for a girl and symmetrical face with widespread eyes. IE not comfortable with either people of size, people who are other abled, or people who have darker skin than they do.
Needs of a Body Shamer:
- To Know -"All doctors know that it is dangerous to be fat" (for the record this isn't accurate but this is the common propaganda that the Health at Every Size research debunks)
- To be Known - "I would be ignored if I wasn't slender."
- Understanding - "My friends and family would never accept me if I gained weight."
- To see "I don't want to look at what I am afraid to become"
- To be seen "I will become invisible if I get fat"
- Order - "It feels more comfortable if everyone looks the same"
- Beauty - "Only a narrow group have beauty"
- Purpose " I have been told it is very important to stay slender and so I need to invest lots of time and money into it"
- Belonging - "IF I accept others I might be kicked out of my friend group"
- Support "People may make fun of me if I a. put on weight or b. hang out with people who look different from my friend group."
- Stability "Staying slender is difficult and if I become heavy it disrupts my view of myself" "Confident women intimidate me and a fat confident woman scares and confuses me..That just seems wrong she should be apologizing for her fatness not celebrating her curves."
- Physical Wellbeing "If I become fat I will be unhealthy"
- Safety "dark skin people are dangerous" " I could die if I get too fat"
- Sensuality "I have been on a diet for so long that watching someone enjoy their food pisses me off It isn't fair and is WrONG."
- Self-respect " I would never respect myself if I let myself "go" like that. "
- Food - I'm hangry
- Respect - " I wouldn't get as many orders, or jobs, or promotions if I am fat." "Dark-skinned people in high positions probably only got there because of special scholarships. I deserved that promotion instead." " I couldn't respect a fat person, their body shows they lack discipline."
- Self Expression - "I could be dismissed if I was fat that scares me." "This Black Lives Matter Stuff is really getting under my skin. Because you know...All lives matter and I have a right to express myself too not just them." (THis person is afraid and confused
Emotions if the above needs aren't met:
Frightened, apprehensive, dread, mistrustful, panicked, petrified, suspicious, wary, worried, Frustrated, impatient, irritated, furious, outraged, resentful, animosity, appalled, disgusted, dislike, hate, horrified, hostile, repulsed, ambivalent, baffled, bewildered, perplexed, torn, alienated, detached, indifferent, numb, removed, uninterested, withdrawn, agitated, alarmed, perturbed, rattled, shocked, startled, surprised, troubled, uncomfortable, uneasy, unnerved, unsettled, ashamed, guilty, mortified, self-conscious, burned out, depleted, exhausted, lethargic, worn out, hurt, lonely, miserable, remorseful, envious, jealous, depressed, dejected, disappointed, discouraged, forlorn, gloomy, Heavy hearted, hopeless, melancholy, unhappy, wretched, anxious, cranky, distressed, distraught, edgy, fidgety, frazzled, irritable, overwhelmed, stressed out, fragile, guarded, helpless, insecure, reserved, sensitive.
(Body shame is often turned inward so the hate that comes out is often just a reflection of these emotions going on in the inside.)
Emotions if they heal the rift with themselves and learn to be compassionate with others and see them as equally worthy no matter their flesh suit.
Compassionate, friendly, loving, openhearted, sympathetic, tender, warm, curious, enchanted, fascinated, interested, intrigued, involved, encouraged, optimistic, empowered, open, safe, secure, amazed, energetic, invigorated, vibrant, grateful, appreciative, thankful, touched, amazed, inspired, awed, wonder, amused, happy, pleased, tickled, enthralled, radiant, calm, comfortable, centred, content, equanimous, fulfilled, relaxed, relieved, satisfied, serene, trusting, rejuvenated, renewed, rested, restored, revived.
So here is what I realized from doing this exercise. How crap it is to live in a mind that is attacking the bodies of others and of itself. It is horrible torture that just wastes needed energy. And it is common. When I described the needs and the voices I could do it clearly because I had heard those comments so often from women who I have photographed. Or from parents from a different generation who were raised racist.
So now the challenge is to create a new image that is a bridge taking this information and wrapping it into the idea for the image.
Post your image + writing assignment here
Click Happy Plus| Week 4 | Communication in Creativity
Updated on 2021-05-25T11:53:35+12:00, by .