Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Philosophy of who we are and what we are doing

In the past few months I've had the humbling experience of seeing that the ideas and visions swirling in my head for the last 15 (more?) years are not unique. Others who have been reading the signs of culture have put the pieces together in a similar way and are acting on and writing about these things in large and small ways all over the world. I can only describe this as awe - some. The sense of being a part of something so much larger than myself or even our little community is electrifying. The responsibility to share that inspiration with the others invested in Convergence and the new people we meet everyday has become a priority and so it is time for all the research, conversations, conferences, etc. to become a coherent philosophy of who we are and what we are doing.

Over the last two years we have asked the question: How do we fulfill our mission of being a resource to artists? And we have heard consistently four things. I'm going to borrow from my friend and writer Quentin Paquette as he and his fiance Cecily (visual artist) have summed it up beautifully.

The idea of an "emerging artist" is one that needs sharpening. Every artist that is continuing to evolve and discover through their work is "emerging." The needs of the "emerging" artist are no different from that of any artist. They need an outlet to the community of those they see as their audience. They need guidance and reinforcement about the development of their technique. They need mentoring on methods of seeking these things on their own. They need an opportunity to discuss the relationship between their vision and their faith [spiritual life]. In these things, all artists are alike.

Hearing these needs we seek to resource the artist in the following ways:

  • SPACE (safe, supportive, encouraging, laboratory, sacred, incubator)
    Convergence provides a space in which the artist can work, build their craft, create their businesses and livelihood.
    While classes of all sorts go on at Convergence, we do not offer classes just for the sake of offering classes. We are not building an arts school or community center. We are a resource to the person, the artist. We give them a place to "do their thing." We provide the resource of space at accessible cost in a supportive, nurturing environment within which artists and arts organizations can build and grow. Our goal is to relieve the stress (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) by being hospitable to artists in order that they might "do their thing."

  • COMMUNITY:
    The opportunity for community takes many forms at Convergence. One way is by providing opportunities to gather with other artists to exchange ideas, solutions and support; such as Artist Way groups, salons, dinners, Arts Exchange events, jam sessions, etc.
    It also comes in the form of creating a supportive environment of patrons and community members lending moral support and encouragement. We also create opportunities for honest engagement through scheduling public viewings, readings and interaction between the artist and the general community. Finally, Convergence is a place to contribute and be heard within a larger community where process, insight and experiences are valued.

  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT:
    We partner with those who provide professional resources to artists at fair and reasonable cost and accessibility. Those we partner with also share our commitment to the holistic health of the artist and are vibrant contributors to the whole community. Not just someone who teaches and goes.

  • SPIRITUAL (INTERNAL):
    We believe the artist's imagination and rich interior life are of great value. We as a community, country and world should do more to foster environments where this interior life is encouraged, nurtured and shared.
    To that end, we at Convergence are particularly committed to providing resources to maintain one's spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health as well as healing. These resources are currently available from the Church at Convergence which is made up of a group of diverse individuals committed to serving our community and world in this way.
The final question is why and my honest, idealistic answer is "to change the world" or at least to do our part in a much larger movement underway. We can help individual people change their lives – and that can change the world. It is already changing my world.

More to come on the why in another blog.

1 comment:

Quentin said...

Well, if you're going to tag me as a writer, I guess I ought to try and write an appropriate comment:
Part of the "why" has got to include some mention of transcendence and rapture. The arts provide a way of communicating and participating in deeper truths than reason alone can describe. Our society is so far tilted toward the logos that it encourages us to ignore that playful, creative part of our humanity. It is that part of us that lets us consider more than what we ourselves are limited to, more than what we can merely prove. I feel that it is to that part of us that God's presence is most likely to occur to us. That's not exactly what I mean, but it's hard to put into words (which is part of the point, I guess). I'm still working on it...

We know, even if we cannot put it into words. And the feeling that remains within us, the discretion of a knowledge so fully in tune with the world, has no need of whatever it is that might fall from our mouths. Our hearts know what is in them, even if our mouths remain silent. And the world will know what it is, even when nothing remains in our hearts.
-Paul Auster, from White Spaces