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Between the Lines

Kim Anderson, MSW, LCSW, ATR-BC

In the Beginning, Creativity

Creativity is cumulative, merging pages of events into chpters of awareness, volumes of experience, tomes of existence.

My own creative accumulation began in a tiny cabin built by my father’s hands from river rock and cedar of the Ozark Mountains. By three years old, I was the product of medical creativity, having survived a series of experimental surgeries to alleviate a rare congenital condition. The surgeries ended, but the effects lingered in the form of sturdy defenses and aesthetic challenges.

We relocated often because of my father’s work. The expanse of landscape and lifestyles of the various American small towns in which we lived, intrigued me. The Indian reservation of Arizona, the military base of California, and the Mennonite community of Oklahoma all gave me a glimpse of the varied cultures nestled in my own country. As we moved from place to place, I took note of the Navajo women and children selling colorful woven blankets on the side of a dusty desert road contrasted with the Mennonite mothers selling quilts against pristine green pastures on Saturday mornings in the Midwest. I remember wanting to stay longer and learn. I remember feeling a kinship with such communities. They were not so different from the constant of my own Ozark heritage; something to do with golden silence, colorful patterns and predictability.

Everything we create is in some way autobiographical, universal, and therefore sacred. I write as witness, as testament, and in service to Others and perhaps to ego.

Carl Jung was a man of many mysteries. He believed in the importance of synchronicity and symbols as guiding forces in our lives. He saw the potential wholeness of individuals and the collective unconscious created by our universal desire to maintain it. Synchronistic things have happened recently which have led me to enter this new realm of blogging, such an isolated yet collective thing. When I studied mass media in college, I had no concept of how massive the media would become.

Last weekend I was in New Paltz, NY at the 5th Annual Equity & Social Justice Conference. The conference was held at SUNY, New Paltz with keynotes, Ernest Morrell and Christine Sleeter. I felt privileged to present at the same venue as these venerable educator's educators.

My presentation, entitled Creating Culturally Considerate Schools: Exploring Identity, Intersectionality and Othering through Mandala Making, was an experieintial workshop using art to explore individual identities and create community. As I took in the informative keynotes and panel discussions, I became very aware of the true "otherness" of my presence and my presentation. Me, a non-academic researcher, non-educational educator, and person of non-normative aesthetics, mingling with folks of definitive personal identities and identifiable professional definitions, ending the day with my bright yellow suitcase full of craypas, glue and glitter. I so enjoyed the interplay of youth, eager to learn and age, eager to teach. Art-making equalizes.

Today, resting in tribute to one year in our new home, I flip channels between innings of baseball and happen upon Bill Moyers talking with author, Luis Alberto Urrea. He talks about living his childhood always on the border. He talks about discovering that he is "other" in the fifth grade. I decide I must read his books and I am reminded of the synchronistic nature of the universe.

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