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We’re All Creative! February 25, 2013

Posted by jayocallahan in Creativity.

We’re all creative! I’ve learned that giving workshops – storytelling and writing workshops – for over thirty years. I’ve also learned that there is something in our cultural genes that fashions invisible doors inside which we learn NOT to create. As a result . . . crayons are put away when we’re seven. Clay is put away after camp. Poems are no longer written after high school or college. On and on.

This is absurd. Life is short. Create! Sing a lullaby to your child. Make one up. Who cares if it isn’t “good.” Wink at someone. Plant a lettuce you’ve never tried.

What helps with our creativity? Support, encouragement, playfulness – a listener. And perhaps a workshop. The purpose of my creativity workshops whether they’re storytelling or writing is to lead you through the invisible doors to create. In a storytelling workshop you discover the seeds of a story. In a writing or storytelling workshop you may write a poem, find a tune, discover something new about yourself. We’re all creative. You can walk through the invisible doors.

April 26-28, 2013 I’ll be leading a Creativity and Storytelling Workshop, When Arts Collide We Discover Something New. Tara Law, an intermedia artist, will co-lead the workshop with me. We will explore art and story without dividing lines. For more information on the workshop visit my Workshop Website Page.


Drawing Creativity Out of People February 14, 2013

Posted by jayocallahan in Creativity.

My task in a workshop is to lead participants out of the boxes we all make out of ordinary life. In one workshop I worked with breaking the restraint of proximity. The participants broke up into pairs, they stood up and I asked them to imagine they are on a subway in Japan. They were so close to a Japanese person they avoided making eye contact. The participants were told they did not speak Japanese and the Japanese subway rider did not speak English. They were given thirty seconds and asked to find someway to make contact. One participant smelled something very odd and was able to make a face indicating it was the smell that allowed her to communicate to the other person. Another participant waited almost twenty-nine seconds and then shifted quickly to the right as if the subway car had jostled her, and her eyes flew open and that’s the way she communicated. The idea of this was to find a creative way to make contact with a person you’ll never see again without offending them.

Each day presents small or large opportunities to be creative. At this time in my life what interests me most is drawing creativity out of people.

Creativity Through the Senses February 5, 2013

Posted by jayocallahan in Creativity.

Maple Leaf In a recent workshop I gave participants several maple or oak leaves I had found in a corner of the driveway. I had participants shut their eyes and handed out one leaf to each. They were to touch the leaf for a minute and then open their eyes and look at it for another minute or two minutes. And finally they wrote a short poem about the leaf. After writing the poem they held the leaf up and the leaf was suddenly alive and important to us.

My own leaf was a maple leaf. It reminded me of an owl’s face. It was very thin, it had hundreds and hundreds of tiny brown dots, it was cut in places, there were holes and it was blackened at the bottom but it was intact. It was as beautiful as any painting I’ve ever seen. It reminded me of the face of a person who’s experienced a great deal of life. I remembered the face of an old man coming across the desert in Mali long years ago.

This exercise gave us a chance to imagine after touching and seeing and the poems were all fresh and alive.