I am attending the International Digital Storytelling Conference at ACMI over this weekend, so I will try to share my interpretation of some moments from it in the next few entries.
John O'Neal (playwright/actor/activist- amongst other things) opened the conference with tears and laughter in his voice. He spoke of many things that stirred me, particularly about the role of art and artists in activism and social change. Our stories are far richer than our arguments, he said. They reveal to us things that we don't even know ourselves.
In the classroom (and beyond), especially over the last twelve months, I have found myself particularly focused on helping students to be critically aware of the messages that bombard them- in advertising, in online environments, in written texts, in visuals, in moving pictures. I have encouraged them to be resistant readers, and to consider texts from other points of view. To resist the accepted lure, the hook, of the art that surrounds them.
This is important.
What I haven't consciously done in a while is to consider this notion from the other side- as a producer of text/art, rather than a consumer of text/art. John O'Neal spoke of the insidious power of art- the way that it achieves its impact on us beneath the level of our logical minds. Such art can have an impact on the way we think, without us necessarily being aware of it. This is how art has the potential to change- change us, change our society.
I want to be a producer of texts that hold this insidious power. Not only that, I want my students to not only be aware of text/art's potential for change, but to be able to use it to dessiminate their own messages.
Walking back to my car beneath swaying red lanterns, I seared with the importance of this.