was a shell of a gathering place before co-creating transformed
as living theater
artist's diary, part 3
Oh, mercy. I've been pondering this article for days the
last of a three-part series on co-creating.
In Part 1, I
wrote about building the CoreSource Center and shared the
joys of creating a tangible "thing" along with the sorrow
I felt upon completion. Part
2 focused on the key elements for successful co-creative partnerships.
Now it's Part 3: co-creating with strangers.
I've written and deleted this article three times. Each felt too
systemized, not expressing the real juice I feel when I co-create.
So, instead of trying to explain, I'll simply say that, for me,
there's nothing as exhilarating. Nothing as unsettling. And nothing
that truly engages all of me ... my creative, emotional, physical
and cognitive selves.
I think the reason is that I'm not a very good solo creator.
I tried to be, thinking that I should be a solo creator if I was
a real artist. But the truth is, I don't enjoy working alone for
hours on end. I feel lonely and isolated. Instead, I love melding
different voices into a unifying focus. Creating with others gives
me a framework, a sounding board and, more often than not, people
who have more skill than me in their particular area of expertise.
I simply come with an idea and choreograph the process.
What intrigues me, though, is that co-creating continues to be
one of my greatest challenges. You'd think that after 20 years,
I'd have it figured out. Yet, with each encounter I continue to
learn, stumble, succeed and fail.
When I'm not co-creating, I yearn for it. When I'm in the midst
of it, I vacillate between loving it and hating it wanting
to embrace the inevitable conflicts, awkward moments and personal
edges, while at the same time, wanting things to just be easy and
to just do the job. At times, these opposing feelings butt against
each other in the same moment.
CoreSource, after co-creation.
I guess it's like relationships. We get so much from these unions
while we struggle to assert our own voice, reclaim our Self, join
with another and detach from expectations.
As I look back over the last four months I'm struck by the contrast
between the joy I felt in creating the space and the alone-ness
that I felt once it was complete. It makes me realize how vital
How important it is to remember these things as we struggle in
our relationships. Perhaps that's what I like most about creating
with others. A group of people, strangers or not, comes together
to shape life in a new way, however temporary it all might be.
Last night I was invited to speak about melding spirituality and
art as a way to find one's voice. I had a rough idea of how I wanted
the evening to go. Well, that's not even true. I had three words:
Faith. Soul. Voice.
I simply wanted to explore the power and impact these words had
on creating and connecting from your core knowing.
I had no idea how many people to expect. I had no idea what they
each wanted. I simply brought the three words, along with paper,
pastels and a poem by Martha Graham. I wanted to let the evening
take its own shape and allow the stories to evolve.
I arrived early to hear the first presenter. She was quite professional.
She had notes, a booklet, definitions; all those things my inner
critic believed I should have. As I sat listening, I felt my stomach
tightening while thinking: Oh my God, I didn't plan every moment!
What the heck am I doing?
Instead of listening to her, I started trying to re-plan my presentation,
making it more of a "lesson."
My mind became a whir of thoughts, all a-jumble.
And then, I stopped. Breathed. And remembered the words of a speaker/healer
I had heard a few months back. He reminded us that, as healers,
each time we have a new patient or client we ought to be
nervous. As we begin this new relationship, it's natural to wonder
if we'll be able to truly connect and, through the connection, heal.
I took another breath slowly into my belly and remembered my intentions:
To bring questions. To allow people to discover and express their
voice through art. To explore the form of their soul voice.
I would trust. Even with my inner critics screaming.
5513 NE 30th Ave., Portland
After a break, I started by sharing my intention for the evening
... letting the audience know that there was no set structure, that
we would use those three words as a place of exploration.
Within minutes people were on the floor, coloring. Others were
writing. There was laughter. There were tears. People began to shape
their stories, to have faith in the power of their voices, to share
the deeper calling of their souls.
It was another lesson for me to take note of and remember. I was
there to co-create with these women. And though they were strangers,
we could create together by setting a simple framework to guide
When I succeed uniting people and their visions in new and
unexpected ways there's absolutely nothing like it. I can
literally feel the room shift and the space transform. People step
into a new way of being. It truly is living theater. The challenge
is remembering to let go of my own critics and honor the co-creative
When I do, amazing things happen. When I don't ... well, that's