"How is collective wisdom accessed and expressed through art, images, symbols, and aesthetic practice?"


“I believe that artists are the harbingers of the future mentality required both by science
and by the imperatives of living in our precarious times....
we now truly stand in need, not only as scientists
but as a civilization, of the artists’ cognitive capacities.”
- Arthur Zajonc -

FROM THE FIELD: Letter from Mimi Katzenbach

In a letter filled with passion and insight, Mimi Katzenbach explores the connection between the medium of theatre and the work of collective wisdom practitioners. What is it we can learn from the portrayal of tragedy in theatre and its ability to generate real hope for change and transformation? How is it, as Mimi notes, that our collective witnessing of loss, failure, and even suffering can leave both audience and actors feeling so fully alive? The implications for collective wisdom work is inspiring and provocative.

Ancient Art & Sacred Symbols: Access to Forgotten Wisdom; Tools for Group Learning
by Karen Speerstra & Joel Speerstra

Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes helps us better understand the interconnections of our minds, emotions, and spiritual constructs with the world around us. He wrote, “…certain ideas exist almost everywhere and at all times and can even spontaneously create themselves quite independently of migration and tradition.”

Archetypes are those big ideas capable of exploding us into different dimensions of understanding. They can heal us, restore our balance, energize our creativity, and if we allow them entrance, they can move us deeply. Particularly when we pose meaningful questions, individually or as a group. Archetypal symbols prompt us to access our own forgotten wisdom in thought-provoking ways. Archetypes tell stories and invite us to journey inward. Symbols act as code language. We unlock the symbol and then the symbol unlocks us.

Karen Speerstra and her son, Joel, give us a taste of expanded understanding available to us through sacred symbols as they describe the creation of their recent book, Hunab Ku. They offer a bibliography from their extensive research into archetypes and symbols along with a sampling of Sacred Symbols for our experience and deeper understanding of these evocative images.

EXCERPT: "Awakening the Commons of the Imagination" by Michael Jones

Michael Jones, musician and composer, addresses a shift in the role of leaders as we turn our attention to collective wisdom. He describes the internal journey of leaders from one of personal artistry as individuals of influence, to an emerging public role serving as conveners and social architects of the whole. The transformative and interior journey of the leader begins with entry into a state of awareness identified as “coming into presence” and through presence, becoming aware of the hidden wholeness behind all things.

Excerpted here is a chapter from Michael’s book, Artful Leadership: Awakening the Commons of the Imagination. Entitled “The Social Architecture of Leadership”, it illuminates some of the dimensions of this shift in leadership to convener and enabler of collective wisdom: “Making Wholeness Visible”, ”Articulating the Field”, “Leading from Behind” & “Creating an Impersonal Fellowship”. It demonstrates a deepening of our understanding of collective wisdom by including in our awareness the sensitivities and ways of thinking of the artist and richness of insights that can come through juxtaposition of diverse perspectives, i.e. artist and business executive.

Art Blocks from Centered On the Edge - Margaret Vaughan

The Collective Wisdom Initiative invited artist, Margaret Vaughan, to visually express an image or images that would make visible an experience of collective wisdom. Her response appeared as these 12 unique but interconnected oil painted art blocks. Margaret says:

"In thinking about my own experience of the phenomena of collective intelligence, I was struck by the pronounced authenticity and individuality of the group's members that seem to be critical components for the magic to flow. The twelve canvases that emerged, therefore, each represent the unique essence of an individual and are designed to come together in a multitude of possible combinations to form new compositions over and over again. As the form of the composition shifts, a new panel begins to draw the eye's focus much as a new, and perhaps unexpected, member of the group organically comes forward as the channel for the collective intelligence to flow in that particular moment."

Voyages Through Glass - Pia Davis' photos of handblown glass ornaments

"How is it that we so often do not or cannot see what we are looking at? When this image first 'appeared' through my lens, I felt a deep shaft of warmth touch my soul - where had such beauty been hiding? The more and deeper we look, the more we will see and experience... we must look through and beyond and differently." - Pia Davis

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