Artist Statement: The expression of art can take on many forms. Sometimes it can be a simple gesture of love by knitting a toy for a child, or something that has the capacity to become an expression of purpose, passion, or even be the vehicle that brings understanding from different points of view. Some pieces are grand and are immediately recognized for the message they impart upon the masses by their creators. Others are simple, hardly noticed by most, but are integral in the telling of stories that bring people together to discuss new ways of seeing a challenge and creating solutions.
The Harvard Law School, Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program (HNMCP) is the first legal clinic in the nation to focus specifically on dispute systems design and conflict management. According to HNMCP, the program takes students from pedagogy to practice in negotiation, mediation, facilitated dialogue, stakeholder assessment, dispute systems evaluation and design, conflict analysis, and curriculum development. The scope of work conducted within the program is vast. A visit to the site is well worth the time.
A relatively new addition to the catalog of offerings was added only a couple of years ago. An art exhibition is on display at the home of HNMCP on the Harvard campus. This will be the second year for the exhibition with requests going out to artists to submit pieces that promoted and advanced conflict resolution and peacemaking. HNMCP promotes the development of conflict resolution skills and practices and honors the dedication and work of its participants through this exhibition.
It was by happenstance that my friend, J. Kim Wright, sent me the request for submissions. It was relevant to me that she suggested I submit one of my art pieces to the Competition because of her work in the Integrative law Movement and her connections back to HNMCP.
Recreating the human form or representing human desires and aspirations in a doll or an animal made of cloth is one of the most fulfilling endeavors I could imagine for myself. From original sketches to material selections and finally the finished work, each doll or animal carries with it a uniqueness and energy that is shared with the person as he or she engages with it. People connect with my work on a tactile level sparking their imagination that brings them joy.
I created The Blind Men’s Elephant for my submission as a result of an earlier commission piece by Ms. Wright currently used as a tool advancing the discussion from many viewpoints to a discussion of the whole. Based on the poem of the same name, this piece demonstrates the broadly held belief that an individual’s worldview may limit the acceptance of a larger truth. The elephant represents the many sides of a conflict, as the six blind men touching upon its body identify each part of the elephant differently. Each part represents a singular solution participants bring to the discussion. Through sharing and dialogue the larger picture, or the whole elephant, emerges. This process gradually reduces conflict, identifies possible resolutions and heals souls.
Ms. Wright explains in this interview how the Elephant is used in her work to bring people together to discuss and formulate solutions that are equitable for everyone.