Molly O'Connor

If you could get a glimpse of my desk right now you might not see anything Zen about it.

Maybe you could just accept my latest explanation: “I’m an artist and this is my own ongoing-interactive-avant-garde-installation/happening-type performance work?”

Amongst the collage of papers, Post-Its, office supplies, and arts swag, there is one tiny bit of Zen wisdom taped to my computer monitor that stares back at me on a daily basis. It allows me to realign myself whenever I lose sight of the bigger picture of my work, a simple quote from one of those page-a-day calendars:

“A Zen master, when asked where he would go after he died, replied ‘To hell, for that’s where help is needed most.’” ~ Roshi Philip Kapleau

Before you assume that I’m comparing my current situation, job, or life in Oklahoma to hell, I would like to add, I feel genuinely blessed to have a career as a cultural worker in Oklahoma, where our work as arts leaders and advocates is always meaningful and definitely cut out for us.

I actually feel this quote is just another version of the Irish blessing: “May you always have work for your hands to do.”

Interestingly enough, both bits of wisdom seem to relate directly to our Oklahoma state motto: “Labor Omnia Vincit” (Latin for “Labor Conquers All Things”). Read the rest of this entry »

Redefining What a “Successful Career” Looks Like

Posted by Eric Booth On September - 15 - 2011

Eric Booth

The work of George Lakoff has made the power of the framing of an issue clear and public.

For years Lakoff’s work has focused on the use of metaphor, and more recently he has written widely about the ways that embedded metaphors do more to shape people’s opinions and understandings than the factual content. He has focused on public perceptions in politics particularly.

For example, if the public accepts the words “death tax” as the basis for any discussion of inheritance taxes—the “pro” side of that argument has already lost. The embedded metaphor is so potently negative, that unless you change the frame, you can’t win the argument even with strong points and facts.

I once encountered this clearly in arts education.

At an event a conservative candidate for Senate lit into me (identified as the arts guy) as being against testing to find out if students are really learning anything. I got him to pause. I asked him, “Do you think every student deserves a highly engaging school day to help her learn?”

He paused, uncertain, and fearing a trap. But he finally admitted that he agreed with that statement. Read the rest of this entry »

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

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Public Art

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Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.