2012 Biography and Social Art Conference

Report

Inner Work, Outer World
April 19-22, 2012
Spring Valley, NY

This year, twenty of us gathered together and we found our shared time delightful!  We chatted and painted, did collage and pastels, worked with a couple of tough topics, experienced triptychons, had a movie night, and more!  It was very full and yet had an easy pace (for the most part).  As with last year, we sought to develop and present the conference collaboratively, and we feel we succeeded (again, for the most part).  All attendees played a role:  from baking bread to presenting exercises to offering enthusiasm.  We hope next year more will come, share, and enjoy!

We began each day speaking aloud this verse:
I am here.
I stand facing you.
Facing you I take interest in you.
Taking interest in you, I see you.
Seeing you, I participate in your becoming.
Seeing you enables me to become.
In seeing each other, we bless this space and this work.

We sang together:
Be ye lamps onto yourselves/Be your own confidence/Hold to the truth
within yourselves/as to the only lamp!

Inner Work

We set out to nurture ourselves over our days together.   We created amazing soul collage cards and found entire life stories within them,as well as the “I am”—simple and powerful.  We included triptychon exercises not only for their personal value but also to expose our circle to this unique work, that of Rinke Visser and Josien de Vries of Holland (more on this may be found on Center’s website).  A masterful pastel exercise moved us through life’s true archetype: from creation to destruction to restoration to dissolution to recreation.  For many of us, this was a deep and affirming experience.  Painting together, we actually contributed to one another’s work, ultimately found something true, beautiful and/or good in the color, and sought to bring it, with both struggle and light-heartedness, to a fuller expression individually and as a group!  This painting exercise became a living experience of the bridge between inner and outer.0

Between inner and outer there is play:  On Friday evening, we grabbed a bag of popcorn, got cozy, and watched Young @ Heart, a hilarious and moving film.  We chose this beautifully composed documentary for pure entertainment value and because of its resonance with our research project, 63 & Beyond.  We all agreed that having a movie night was just what we needed.

Outer Work
A handful of individuals “painted pictures” for us, verbally, of work they do in the world.  A sampling includes:  one who will present at this year’s AWSNA conference, another who does biography work with her choral group, another who works with leadership in organizational life.  This sharing showed clearly that we are realizing growth in our field!  We had two significant discussions about topics that connect us to the outer world in particular ways, one about the research undertaken since last year’s conference.  Eight of us shared the interviews we conducted with friends and family members who fall within this age group, 63 and beyond.  All reported new discoveries and felt changed in subtle or significant ways.  
2012 conference participants
We outlined nextsteps as well (which will be posted on the Center’s website soon).  We also discussed the possibility of forming a circle of associates inbiography and social art.  A formal organization for biography workers of North America could hold a unique place between inner work and outer world, where we find support among ourselves as colleagues as we strive to bring biography and social art to ever-wider audiences. Many questions arose around this topic and it continues to be considered.

We’ll meet again in 2013.  We hope to see you there!

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