Making sense of our experiences

Sometimes, you run across an idea that jumps out and grabs your soul, not once, but again and again, resonating in thought and practice. The result is a rattling, a seismic shake-up, a new possibility that dares you to experiment with your own interpretation of the idea.  That’s what happened to me when I read Peter Reason’s and Peter Hawkins’  ‘Storytelling as Inquiry.” Reason and Hawkins take apart and reveal differences (and opportunities) between explanation and expression.

Explanation, wrote Reason and Hawkins,  is the mode of classifying, conceptualizing, and building theories from experience. Here the inquirer stands back, analyzes, discovers and invents concepts, and relates these to a theoretical model….orthodox science is an exercise in explanation – endeavoring to answer the question of what and why.

Expression is the mode of allowing the meaning of an experience to become manifest. It requires us to partake deeply of an experience, rather than stand back to analyze. Meaning is part and parcel of all experience – although it may be so interwoven with experience that it is hidden. It needs to be discovered, created, or made manifest and communicated. We work with meaning when we tell stories, write and act in plays, write poems, meditate, create pictures…..

Soon after I read this back in 2002, I started experimenting with a fresh understanding of expression and meaning by inquiring into my own experiences in pictures, in my case visual art. I ‘tried’ to enter the experience,  sense its shape, color, patterns and make it visible. Below is one example of my inquiry.

Later,  I experimented more with ‘expression’ when I invited participants in my college classes to communicate the meaning of their learning experiences.

More about this in my next post.

Reason, Peter & Hawkins, Peter 1988, “Storytelling as Inquiry” in Peter Reason (ed), Human Inquiry in Action: New Developments in New Paradigm Research, London: Sage.


Filed under Art and Learning, Misc, Teaching

Today is more than just another day in your life…..


I’m happy to pass this along.

With many blessings.

By Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg,busic is by Gary Malkin and narration is from Brother David Steindl-Rast.


Filed under Art and Learning, Community

Grant Opportunity for Ohio River Valley Artists

Heads up local artists. The Fast Track grant application process is open until February 1, 2011.

I can speak from experience. I’ve received this grant 3 times over the years.  It’s not a huge amount of money but, I’ve been pleasantly surprised each time by the interest and passion this gift of support generates. It is well worth the effort. So, go for it!

More details:

The Artist Fast Track grant program is open to artists and craftspeople, part-time or full time with professional experience who live and work in the Ohio counties of Adams, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Carroll, Clermont, Coshocton, Columbiana, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton, Washington or theWest Virginia counties of Wayne, Cabell, Mason, Jackson, Wood, Pleasants, Tyler, Wetzel, Marshall, Ohio, Brooke, Hancock.
Artists and craftspeople may apply for grants of up to $500. You may not apply for more than one grant in the state fiscal year period, July 1 to June 30.

Download information at the link below.  To request an application, write to Bill Howley, project director at


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Earth and Fire Pottery

Horsehair Raku Vase by Eric Preston

I love artists who allow themselves to dive, dream, play,  listen, create, move to the edges – with joy and dogged determination. I love artists who keep doing what they love in spite of a million obstacles. Eric Preston is one such artists. Eric listens to clay, allowing it to speak it’s shape. He senses the future the clay is trying to express. He assists, midwifes, enables clay to be reborn in the shapes, lines, and colors it was meant to have.


See more of Eric’s assisted births here


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THE Right Way to Read –

Love this story by John McKnight about the right way to read.

More good stuff at “Abundant Community.”

Have you every felt your ideas, experiments, dreams sabotaged or undermined by the right way? Or by best practices? Or by we don’t do that here?


Filed under Community, Reading, Teaching


A Woman's Way of Knowing©

Just found this loving kindness meditation led by Sylvia Boorstein. I hope to practice this meditation everyday for the rest of my life. From the Being Blog.

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Making Art is like fire in the dead, cold night of winter

Making art in a destitute place is like making fire in the dead, cold night of winter. It gives out warmth, gives out light, gives direction and rekindles hope.

Lily Yeh

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