They weren’t so sure, these numbers people. They were there – at their meeting – and very quiet as I introduced ReimagineArt, my team, their project, the set-up: five groups, five stations, five instructors, five featured artists, five maxims. They dutifully dispersed to their assigned stations, white-knuckling the stems of their wine glasses held closely to their chests like some sort of force field protecting them from what may befall. They had to be there – their boss was there.
To be fair they were polite, professional, and smart enough to know that there was no gracious exit and had, for the most part, determined long ago that the tidy blank squares on a graph were preferable to the intimidating blank expanse of a white canvas.
Welcome to art class, accountants!
It could have been the wine but more likely the inviting, understanding, and judgment-free environment created by ReimagineArt that put those at ease who could think of nothing worse than being asked to create art alongside co-workers. I see it and feel it every time – the resistance, the fear – then the emerging curiosity and openness as bound-up creativity breaks loose under the skillful guidance of our art facilitators.
Predictably, logic-oriented participants tend to choose low numbers on our BEFORE survey to describe how they felt about the idea of creating art alongside co-workers: “Art is not my forte,” then high numbers to describe how they felt about creating art alongside co-workers AFTER their art experience: “Great teamwork experience and fun!” Myth busted!
They ended their session with five original co-created works of art – stunning art, I might add, and they agreed. When I checked in with the manager about hanging the works with thumbtacks in their team room he asserted: “Oh no, we won’t be using thumb tacks,” – my heart sank – “These are too good for thumb tacks. I want them framed.” Happy dance!
In our post-event debrief, the manager enthused: “We will use this experience to help us work through an upcoming challenge in our department. We have been tasked with developing a corporate-wide system that’s never been done before and the team is not sure how we are going to do it. I will remind them about how we started the art project not knowing what we were doing and unsure of the outcome, but followed a method that resulted in something beautiful. We can use the same step-by-step method that we used to create the art to work through our professional challenge.”
ReimagineArt at it’s best.