What do I believe, and why? Where do these ideas come from?
These questions drove me to start making conversations.
In 2017, I launched "Making Conversations" as a way to help unclog ideological divisions and build bridges on issues of race and class, gender and sexual identity, poverty and homelessness - the existential demands we must answer if we are to survive as a nation (and as a civilization).
Making Conversations is a ceramics social practice project. The first leg of this project took place over dinner, using handmade, illustrated dinnerware to prompt small group conversation on complex social issues. Working with professional facilitators from the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College, I have lead a series of discussions and produced over 100 handmade plates.
I make narrative ceramics because I believe in the power of personal story telling to bring people together. Each plate tells a personal story, many involving intimate truths. Privileged communities often lack the ability to share and sit in discomfort, so I see this project as a skill-building event for that purpose.
I believe in the simple truth that if we get to know each other, there can be no "others" left to fear. Oppression hits a wall. Re-Humanization begins. Of course, it's more complicated than that. But also, it's not. Making Conversations has produced deep friendships across differences and is a testament to the importance of these kinds of projects.
Art has the power to render visible the things we can’t see, or don't want to see. Systemic racism. Christian privilege. Gender bias. It can expose the deep stories that frame our world views, and ask the questions we are afraid to ask. This fear of asking the tough questions keeps us separated from one another. Afraid of one another.
In truth, we are desperate for meaningful relationships. In the age of connectivity, we are lonely. I would like to get people talking again. To help us have hard conversations. Making Conversations is a project that aims to do these things and more.
In 2018, I was invited to bring this project to my former high school, where their student body represents 50 different countries. Leading students to understand their stories as means for better understanding others, my curriculum successfully facilitated cross-cultural engagement on campus. To see this project, click on "MC IN THE CLASSROOM" below.