Highlights from TEDxJISSalon: The Artist Inside

Is it possible to be uncreative? How can we use the element of randomness to be original? What are you good at? What did you like to do when you were young?  Is what you see in a photograph the same as what the photographer wanted you to see? How does an artist take a simple idea and make it a beautiful piece of art?

These were just some of the questions that the participants at TEDxJISSalon: The Artist Inside discussed, doodled, and even danced their way through. Easily the most active of our salons so far, our presenters and performers had all the attendees actively exploring what the creative process is about.

We were fortunate to have a number of talented performers in addition to our scheduled speakers. Erika Koito started the first session with her magical saxophone and Rintaro Hori kicked off the post-snacks session with a violin performance. Both musicians joined presenter Hana Ogawa later in a trio that received a standing ovation. Dewi Laurente completed the program of performers, reading two of her original poems.

“And the soil from which they came, brown like me, brown like them.
And their mother’s aching bones that carried the weight of never being

Beautiful enough for her country to see, the weight of
The life she has lived, unapologetically morena.”

— Excerpt from Dewi Laurente’s “Morena”

The performances were followed by the “vision boarding” session lead by art doctor Jason Maddock. Everyone filled the blank board with their imaginations and ideas, which all came together to create a nice piece.

Our first speaker of the morning, Amy Smith, had also shared her ideas with us during the October TEDxJISSalon: Women in Leadership. This time, she challenged us to look at series of her photos and reveal what we saw in each picture. Our discussions during her session focused on what questions each photo provoked in our minds.

After Ms. Smith, Hyunsuh (Irene) Kim took the front of the room. Shocking us with an image another student artist had shared at IASAS Art, she then showed how great artists get their inspiration from a range of places, including common expressions like “eat your heart out,” social problems like pollution, and by simply copying each other. To convince us that one idea can lead to another, Irene had us smell different sachets of scents, then choose colors, draw shapes, create sounds and even come up with a move, or a dance, that was stimulated by the smell.

During the refreshment break, the participants had time to enjoy the Polish dumplings provided by Pieorgi Pieorgi and light tea and snacks sponsored by Lauren Pool and the JIS High School Activities Office. Rintaro opened our second session with the musical interlude. His violin play introduced Hana Ogawa, a student musician, who gave us the sneak peek inside musician’s brain and introduced us to her method of translating and transforming a simple traditional shamisen piece composed by others to her own piece. She carefully explained her creative process to the audience and engaged them by getting them to clap to a rhythm, to which she played her improvised shamisen melody.

Our last speaker, Ilonka Meier, gave us a powerful talk. She started by mentioning one of the questions that was raised during the Salon: What blocks our creativity? She told us about her creative life and guided us to “unlock our creativity” by stomping on the decorated present box as a symbol of unlocking creativity, freeing us from the limited thinking box.

“I like the idea of art that is being a natural part of our life.” — Yuichiro Hara

“Artist tell us their personal stories through the art, but it can sometimes be others’ story or meaningless. Art is beautiful that it can be interpreted different ways.”
— Claudia Mak

“I consider myself to be least creative, but I believe that from my childhood, I have created and enjoyed art and danced in event days, so it tells me that I have that hidden creativeness.” — Asit Meswani

This Salon has been indeed the most creative, engaging and unique salons of TEDxJIS, Many of the participants headed to the lunch with new ideas about art and creativity, but also with new questions as well,  like: do you have to be fearless and not care what anyone thinks of your creative efforts? Maybe that can be something we look at during a future TEDxJIS event.

The highlights were originally written by Yuna Kim and have been edited by Amit Khanna and Lane Graciano.

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