Wholeness: AIN12 & the Museum of the African Diaspora

As part of the Applied Improvisation Network World Conference in San Francisco, we divided up for three “field trips” on the first day. I was on the “Jazz” trip.

21 of us headed off to the Museum of the African Diaspora. We were given a fairly typical introduction to the museum and about the African Diaspora. But things started getting interesting when we viewed a short film about Howard Thurman, who talked about, among other things, the importance of being whole. (Read some of his quotes here.) This had so many layers of resonance for me, not just in terms of improv, but in every aspect of life.

Then we entered the current exhibition, Choosepaint!chooseabstraction! Celebrating Bay Area Abstract Artists.

From the moment I entered the gallery I was gobsmacked by color, emotion, ideas, layers… and eventually, some sense of wholeness. I’ve always loved abstract art.

As I walked from one canvas to the next the power of both thought, intention and improvisation came across. Reading the artists quotes about the paintings, reading the titles, seeing that many of these artists were born in the 40’s was incredible. I regret not writing down more than a few of the quotes, after some assurance from the staff that they were online. Alas, they are not. No catalog either. But the resonance was around things such as “letting the paint speak,”

Arthur Monroe wrote:

“If I had not been sanwhiched between jazz and Abstract Expressionists, I would have lost my way and may chances to paint.”

Museum of the African Diaspora :: Gone, 2005 by Squeak Carnwath
Museum of the African Diaspora :: Gone, 2005 by Squeak Carnwath

While our host from the museum did some Q&A to elicit the connection between this art and improvisation, I kept circling the room. I was so moved.

What an interesting start to a four day gathering on Applied Improvisation. MoAD gave me insights to my own practice of facilitation, communities and graphic facilitation. About wholeness, about being in the present, about color and beauty in every sense of the word. Simply Amazing.