Every person has got a unique potential that will flourish if given the chance.
This uniqueness leaves traces and clues in many ways and context, that we can eventually reconnect for trying to see its “big picture” (or vocation or any way we want to call it).
It also reveals itself through the creative process with materials. Nona Orbach has observed this phenomenon and named Spiritual Blueprint the unique imprint of a person that emerges while using or playing with materials. Like Nona wrote in her book “The Good Enough Studio”, it is the essence of any creator’s actions, visualizations, thoughts and feelings that are conveyed physically in the making of art.
Thus, there are two different perspectives that can intertwine and affect each other: searching for our own unique identity and observing other’s uniqueness, in order to support its expression. Here are two posts for deepening these two “sides of the same coin”: The Creator’s Spiritual Blueprint by Nona Orbach and Searching for the Self through Matter by myself.
In both cases, what is the best context and conditions for this research? What about a space-time frame that offers a selection of materials/tools just to let this process of self-expression flow? Like an oasis without goals, judgements, evaluations or expectations coming from “outside”.
I would like to embrace this idea and will name this place Atelier.
A so simple and essential starting point will revolutionize many habits, including the way of observing and interacting, especially in the educational context. It will open a question that can overturn everything: is the curriculum and the various learnings the real final goals? Or rather, the curriculum and all the learnt content/skills are a tool for supporting each unique expression and research?
Are the interests of the child a tool for the learning process or the learning process and the curriculum are tools for supporting the interests of the child?
I am advocating for the second one. And the open studio is probably the most suitable setting for it: a space that provides a multiplicity of materials that can be freely used. The free choice is a crucial aspect, but it is not about the free choice of materials and the free moving only: how is the relational space? Is it really communicating acceptance of all forms of expressions and diversity? It can be just by a glance, a word or a silence… As educators or studio managers, we should be aware of what both the physical and the relational space are communicating and offering.
Finally, if the open studio is actually the best solution, what about offering specific proposals with a selection of a few materials?
There is no opposition, any solution is good or bad out of a specific context. For example, maybe a quite defined proposal can be more suitable for one spot proposal (also considering the characteristics of participants, number, age, etc.).
Here, the “uniqueness” of the workshop leader may certainly come into play. I often offer my favorite materials, that I know the best: my deep, specific knowledge will help me to choose how to lead and support the creative process.
For instance, as a magazines and collage lover with great hands-on experience about it, I will know what and how is the best to offer for each specific context; moreover, I will be able to understand and value each stage of the process of every person (like the browsing and selection phase, the cutting phase, the composition, etc.).
Of course, we should always consider what is the range of choice and freedom within a specific proposal: can different identities find their ways?
For example, during an activity with stripes of paper and stapler, is a child allowed to play only with the stapler, if it is his focus? Perhaps, observing the same child in time, we will notice that he is often interested in mechanisms and tools…
In the second chapter of the “The Good Enough Studio”, Nona Orbach explains a phenomenological tool for observing the recurring actions, qualities and characteristics of the Blueprint. In fact, time is a key element: throughout time, we can connect different clues into an organic net that will gradually take a shape, constantly evolving and enriching.
But even if we have the chance of one hour workshop only, this perspective can assist us for making that hour a meaningful piece of something bigger. Even if we will not see the flower, we can give some water and light, trusting the seed and knowing that it will flourish, sooner or later.
This post is part of the project Follow your star, about the research of the unique potential of each person.
How can you join it?
- Reading the related post “Searching for your Self through matter”
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- Starting for your personal creative journey
Cover picture by Nona Orbach