In Part 1 of this mystical journey, I told you about being part of the The Arcanum’s launch. Of course, typical of me – there is also the inner journey!
What The Heck IS a Master, Anyway?
In the beginning, I wondered what being a Master really meant. Community is huge in The Arcanum – and the idea of a Master’s role not to “teach” in the same sense as my 35 years of experience would dictate. Our job here in the beginning is to step back, let the community develop, carefully watch the conversations – and let folks discover their rhythm and their answers. At first, I wondered how a group of peers could grow together and not simply be “the blind leading the blind?” It was a question I grappled with for awhile.
My Cohort – and My “A-HA!”
I was still thinking about this as I chose my fabulous first group of Apprentices. I wanted a community that could take an Artistic approach to photography. People who had lived a multi-faceted life. Who were grown ups. Multi-passionate, multi-talented people who bring a certain kind of “cross trained” perspective. Different ages, genders and geographic locations who wouldn’t flinch at avant-garde ideas. Who, when alchemically blended, became an artistic force breathtaking to behold – both individually and as a community.
As I read their profiles and still pondered this “how to be a Master” question… it began to dawn. In any artistic endeavor, no one should look to a person, and mentor, a teacher, or any single entity for what is Right. The goal should never be to please the Master… it should be to unlock a deep creative force; the Muse, the divine fire within which creates fantastic art and expression. In that scenario – the Master doesn’t lead in any conventional sense – he/she provides an epic bread crumb trail then gets out of the way. If the trail is a good one, an Apprentice will “miraculously” discover their own answers.
The kicker; it doesn’t merely require a Master – it takes a special community of people who are all pointed in the same direction. That’s the most powerful space in which to grow; and I set out to create one.
Art & Community
My friend and fine art photographer Keoki Flagg says true art is three things; it’s Emotional, Original and Timeless. IMHO, what kills that quest is trying to please another. Teacher, leader, Master, doesn’t matter. Trying to please “the other” turns your creativity into something other than yours. What can help it exponentially is to not go it alone – but to travel with a group of like-minded artists who want to go there too. Folks with enough perspective, heart, soul and life experience who can create a space where “flourishing” is the norm. Right there is the incredible power of Community.
I grew up as a loner; communities were either nonexistent, or horribly disappointing. It’s taken my experiences on Google+ to truly understand the power of Community.
The Arcanum is the perfect platform for this particular style of learning, Art and Mstery. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea! But that’s the beauty of these incredible times we live in. There is every kind of Photography education you could dream of, brilliant people standing at every turn, just waiting to share what they know. And there’s room – and an audience – for all of them! Exciting times for Photography, indeed.
My personal takeaway from all of this so far? The discovery of a new “voice” in my teaching. Doing anything for 35+ years will dull you around the edges. In fact, I’d stepped away from teaching for awhile, on purpose. I needed to take a breath, dive deep into my own art & expression vs. always facilitating others in finding theirs. See what new light could be shed on things. This return to “teaching” (we need a new word!) as part of The Arcanum is opening up new ideas, new approaches and a totally new & inspired way to think about how to help – and make a difference.
It’s pretty awesome to get to share it with you!