Don’t be alarmed, Art Class Curator followers! The art lessons, blog posts, and other goodies are still here for your enjoyment. But the podcast has undergone a re-branding and slight shift in focus.
My own personal journey over the last few years has led me to this moment. So in this episode, I explain why I’ve changed things and what you can expect from now on. Welcome to the You Need Art podcast!
1:13 – How the pandemic inspired a call for deeper connection for me
5:23 – What I’ve recently realized about one of my main superpowers
7:08 – Why I’ve decided to re-brand the podcast a bit and re-think a question I’ve always asked
13:13 – The goal of this newly rebranded podcast for you, the listener
15:57 – When I saw my life reflected in a work of art discussed on the show live
19:34 – The sculpture that showed me how personal connections don’t have to be huge moments
23:16 – People seeing themselves reflected in art in very different ways
26:40 – What you need to do to truly see what’s possible with personal connection through art
- Art Connection Circle
- Episode 89: “Why You’ll Want In On the Teacher Workshop Fun in 2022 with Madalyn Gregory”
- Episode 83: “Studying the Disturbing 2000 Self-Portrait of Marcos Rayas with Madalyn Gregory”
- Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
- Let It Be Easy by Susie Moore
Be a Podcast Guest: Submit a Voice Memo of Your Art Story (Scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your story.)
Hello and welcome to You Need Art. I am Cindy Ingram, your host and the founder of Art Class Curator, The Curated Connections Library, and The Art Connection Circle. This is the podcast where we connect with the human spirit and our deepest selves through the power of art. Art is here for you as a catalyst, a challenger, a coach, and a comfort. Before we get started, take a moment and fill your lungs with a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and get ready to discover what art has to teach you.
Hey, everybody. It’s Cindy Ingram. Welcome to The You Need Art Podcast. We are rebranding, renaming the podcast to You Need Art away from The Art Class Curator Podcast. Now, don’t be afraid, Art Class Curator followers. Art Class Curator is not going anywhere. Just the focus of the podcast is changing a little bit. I’m going to explain to you why, all my reasons for that, what I’ve been thinking about, and where I’ve been heading in my own personal journey the last few years that have led to this moment. You’ve noticed I have been talking about this more in the podcast of the last few weeks that I really have felt a call for deeper connection. I know that the pandemic has done a lot for us, mostly negative but also, we’ve had some positive things arise from it, but one of the things that I have noticed is that before the pandemic, I filled my life with travel and community.
I kept really, really busy running a business, doing all this and that, then like the rest of the world, we just got everything taken away all at one time. Communication and connection became different. We’re using different modalities to communicate. We’re getting burnt out on internet communication. There’s all sorts of things, then relationships that were once strong are weaker now. Relationships that were once weak are stronger. As we’re opening back up and as we’re adding more things into our lives, we are faced with the question of, “What do I want to add back in and what do I not want to add back in? What was good about what I released or was forced to release with the pandemic that I’m grateful for, that I’m glad I don’t have to add that back into my life?” I don’t want to just flip a switch and everything to be exactly as it was because we’re different people now. We’ve gone through something terribly massive that will forever change all of us.
I really feel a big, big craving for deeper conversation, deeper connection, more intimate connections. I miss teaching. I’ve been out of the classroom since 2018. 2018 is when I left the classroom to focus just on Art Class Curator. I got to fill that teaching need through my work with Art Class Curator because I would get to see teachers regularly at conferences, workshops, even Zoom webinars, things like that, and those sorts of interactions. I got to fuel that part of me that really, really loves teaching because I have always loved art but I have also always loved teaching. Those two loves are not the same. They’re loves of different things. The pandemic took teaching from me in a weird way because while I did get to still do Zoom workshops and things like that, the networking that I had with my peers and the opportunity to teach in person went away, then I know that happened for a lot of you, teaching virtually for so long and how hard that is. For those of you who are teachers, you’ll understand this way even more than I’m experiencing it.
One of the things I have also noticed in myself is that this was a time of deep inner work. I have already been doing a lot of deep inner work for the last several years, even before the pandemic, but the opportunity that the pandemic gave me was to get to really focus on me and my family, and really figure out what I love about my life and what I don’t. One of the things that I love about my life is my deep connection with art. Once, I realized that I was missing the teaching and I was missing the personal art connections. I love helping teachers connect their students with art because I love teaching art so much. I love having those conversations about art with students, but I’ve reached a point where hearing about it and providing lessons, and working with teachers isn’t enough to fill that part of me that needs that connection, that needs those moments in front of art with people. What I’ve really learned recently—and I think I’ve always known this but I didn’t necessarily fully know—was that one of my main superpowers in this world, besides being a good teacher, is the capacity to feel deeply about art. The capacity not just to learn about art but to experience it and to learn about myself through my interaction with art. That I see and I’ve always seen for as long as I can remember the power in that. I have always wanted to share that with as many people as possible because I know how powerful it is. I know how magical it is. I know that is something that I bring to the world is that capacity.
All of that said, I feel that these are the discussions that I want to have about art in this podcast. Again, this is not changing the Art Class Curator programs at all. It’s not changing our membership. It’s not changing what we offer for teachers. Don’t worry, teachers, you are still supported and covered, but this podcast, I realized, what I want to talk about is not just for teachers. That a doctor might want to hear about how art, interactions with art really impacted someone. A dentist. I just went to the dentist today, so that’s fresh on my mind. Anybody can experience art and can learn from it, learn about themselves through it, and experience the emotions of it, the delight in it, the enchantment of it, and all the things that come with experiencing works of art because I feel like so many people are scared of art. They think it’s boring. They don’t understand that there’s so much baggage wrapped up in it. I want to work directly with these people too. Not just the teachers who get to help the students. I want to be a little bit more of a hands-on role in working one-on-one with people about this connection.
That’s why this podcast will now be more about the art connection, the experience of art, the power of art rather than things like classroom management or things like that. That it’s going to be bigger and greater about the content, and about the connection rather than the teaching methods. We’ve got you covered in the teaching methods at artclasscurator.com. You can explore all of our old blog posts. You can get a membership in The Curated Connections Library and get the lessons. There’s still so much for you there, but what I really want to talk about is the power that art has in an individual’s life. That’s what we’ll be doing here in You Need Art. I’ve told these stories about how art has impacted me and how art has changed my life. I’ve told my big grand Picasso story multiple times. If you haven’t heard that one, you can check out an old episode.
At the end of all of my interviews in the past, I’ve asked the question, “Which artwork changed your life?” I realized recently, I love that question—well, that’s not what I realized recently but I have always loved those answers. They are so inspirational to me. But I also know that for someone who maybe isn’t prone to have those deeper connections, that those sound so foreign and so unattainable, like you’re all going to change your whole life from one artwork. But it doesn’t have to be that. It doesn’t have to be your life changes after you see a work of art but it is like you see more of yourself or you become more of yourself or you see something from a different angle that you didn’t see before that gives insight into your life, that changes your perspective, that then helps you move through the world differently after that experience. It can be a really small thoughtful exercise or it can be something that knocks you over. It can be anything in between. It can be something that makes you laugh. It could be something that makes you mad, then you’re wondering why you got mad about it and that can give you some guidance in your life. There’s so much that can happen with a work of art. It can be a place of comfort. It can be a place of challenging you. It can be a place of curiosity. There’s so much that art can give us. I really want to help people through this process.
One of the things that really brought me to this moment too was in the workshop that we did over the summer—I did a podcast episode a few weeks ago with Madalyn, talking about our teacher summer workshop. If you’re a teacher and you want to learn more about that workshop, go listen to that episode—but it was that second day of our workshop where if you haven’t listened, what we did is we had the teachers, we went to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, we looked around at the art, then I instructed everyone to spend 20 minutes in front of a single work of art, then I thought, “Oh gosh, they’re not going to be happy with me.” I thought they would revolt. I thought they would roll their eyes. All of my little inner critics stuff was getting stirred up. What happened was something so beautiful, moving, and powerful. They came back and told us of these really amazing experiences. I myself had the same thing. I spent 20 minutes in front of a painting that was just red. It was a Rothko painting. There was nothing happening in that painting but after the 20 minutes was up, I was like, “I’m not ready to leave. I need more time.” Just giving it that space, then time to breathe allowed me to really experience it.
Then we had them go back to the galleries and go back into our workshop space, which was in a different gallery across the street. We invited them to create a work of art inspired by that time in front of their painting. It was so inspirational to see what people came up with. The connections that they were making personally, professionally, all these different ways they were connecting with the art. Nobody approached the assignment in the same way. It was just so moving and so beautiful. At the end of that day, I realized, “I need this. This is what I need in my life. This is where I should go. This is the perfect experience.” Really since July, that’s what I’ve been doing is how do I foster more of that, how do I experience more of that, not just selfishly for my own well-being. Nothing has ever lit me up more than probably that day. You have those teaching moments where everything went right. That was one of those days. I still think about it. I just get chills thinking about it because I just felt like, “Oh, I’m doing this. This is the right thing that I’m doing.”
The creation of this podcast being You Need Art is really a direct descendant of that day because I realized, “Okay, this is bigger than just teachers and students. These are individuals. This is people. This is transformational on an individual level. I want to get my hands dirty.” I don’t want it to be just me, then I help the teacher, the teacher helps the kids. I want to go right to the person being helped and be a part of it. That’s the goal with You Need Art. It’s the goal of the new program that we have, Art Connection Circle.
Another thing that I really want to reiterate with the goal of this new podcast is to help you understand that art is there for you. No matter what you’re going through, that art can be there for you. There’s a quote by James Baldwin and it says, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” Yes, 100%, I resonate with that so hard because as a person, I don’t know, I’m talking for all people but really I’m talking about me but me personally, can get so wrapped up in my own experience and my own emotions, my own head, my own traumas, my own feelings and preferences, and all the things that make me who I am. It can feel really lonely to be trapped in your own brain. I was reading Matthew McConaughey’s book. Oh so good. I’m about halfway through but he said, I wish I could find the exact moment and play it for you because he can hear his voice but it was basically like you’re stuck with yourself for the rest of your life. The one person you can’t escape from is you. You’re there. You’re always there. Your brain is always moving, always thinking.
That can feel so isolating. It can feel so lonely, especially when you don’t have like-minded people that you’re with but then you read and you’re like, “Oh shoot, there are other people that think and feel the way I do. I’m not the only one in the world that has ever had this particular thought or felt this way about this certain thing.” There’s so much that we can learn about ourselves through a second thing. It allows us to take yourself out of your own thoughts, your own brain, your own overthinking, your own anxieties, and all of that, takes yourself out of that and flips it around. You can look at an artwork and you can see yourself in it. Just like James Baldwin said, with reading, you can do the same with looking at art. I think you can see that if you go back and listen to the episodes that me, and Madalyn have done where we looked at a work of art and talked about it, how there’s always an element of myself that I find in an artwork. I never know what it’s going to be but it helps me understand things that I didn’t know I was feeling or it just reveals hidden truths about myself, just through looking at the art.
One of the examples of that happened in one of the episodes I did with Madalyn. If you remember the episode we did with Marcos Raya’s The Anguish of Being and the Nothingness of the Universe. We spent an hour talking about that painting. I’ve seen the painting in person. I had helped write lessons about it. Someone on the team, Jen, had written the lesson and I had looked at it, and experienced it but it wasn’t until I spent a good 30 minutes looking at it till I realized the connection I had with it. The connection that I had made, if you didn’t listen to that episode, I can give you a little CliffNotes version. The painting is inside of someone’s face, like a mask, a futuristic looking mask and it’s missing some teeth. The painting was making me really uncomfortable the entire conversation because I had never really sat and looked at it. I’d always looked at it through the lens of a teacher, never through a viewer. I catch myself doing that sometimes. I’ll go to a museum and I’ll spend the whole time looking at it, thinking about how I’m going to teach it rather than thinking about the connection I’m making to it. I think that’s what my episode a few weeks ago was about; letting your art history knowledge block you from experiencing the work of art.
But in that conversation with Madalyn, suddenly, I realized why the painting had been making me so uncomfortable is that the artwork was originally created, it talked about the artist’s battle with alcoholism. I superfluously knew that. Is that the right word? I didn’t even know that because I had read the label and I knew about the artwork but it was just one of those things that existed in my head. It hadn’t made a connection, then all of a sudden, I realized when I was looking at it, I was like, “Oh my god, this is my dad here in this painting.” I never really knew my dad. I haven’t seen him, just here and there. After third grade, I didn’t really know him. I’ve always viewed our experience through my lens, of course, and with the impact that his alcoholism had on me, and the abandonment issues I had and this and this and that. The experience of looking at that painting made me stop and think about him, what his experience was and what he was going through. It was a really profound moment for me to have that little grain of thought pop in as an element of my healing because we’re all still healing from our traumas even though they happened many, many, many years ago. It’s still part of you. It was a really powerful moment for me.
It doesn’t have to be these big huge moments. It can be just a little thought that you have. It can be another time, I have a long history of social anxiety. I don’t have it too much anymore but I did really strongly for a very long time, and thought I was mostly over it, so then I go to this event where I have to spend several days in a retreat center with a bunch of really smart women. I was feeling really out of my league, those demons of anxiety, the demons of not feeling good enough, and all of that because it really stirred up in me. I was feeling really uncomfortable and vulnerable. I was having a great time but at the same time, I was feeling really overwhelmed. We had one afternoon off, so I went to the art museum and there was this one artwork that is called Minotaurus. The artist is a South African woman named Nandipha Mntambo. I go and I see this sculpture at the High Museum in Atlanta. I was just captivated by it. I didn’t really know why. I don’t go into an art museum with any expectations but I was feeling so good to be there. I was feeling so comforted to be in this happy space of being with art. I see her.
She is this bronze sculpture. She’s larger than life size. She’s mostly a woman figure but she has horns and ears, like bull ears, then she has around her waist, her back, and her neck, a fur. She’s half human, half bull. It is gorgeous. It’s so good but she’s standing on this stump of rock but then the way she’s standing is she has her feet planted, shoulder width apart or maybe a little bit more narrow but her shoulders are slumped and her arms are hanging by her side, and her head is looking down and her eyes are down cast, and her shoulders are a little slumped. She looks just defeated, sad, and stolen. I looked at her and I was like, “Oh, you’re so badass. Look at you. Stand up straight, show your power, shine bright.” I said that to her in my head. I surely didn’t say it out loud. I was going to say if I wasn’t in a mask, I probably would have said it out loud but this was pre-COVID. I used the opportunity of my mask to talk to myself all the time. I sing to myself. It was a little moment, then suddenly, I was like, “Oh, where are you not doing that, where are you not standing tall, where are you not standing in your power?” It’s just little nuggets. It doesn’t have to be this big, powerful, profound thing but it’s cathartic. It is self reflection. It is self understanding, self awareness. It’s a connection with another person who created that. It was so many things all wrapped up in one.
The other thing I wanted to quote and you’ll have to excuse me, I do this all the time because I’m constantly reading, so I’ll say one thing. I have to bring it up but I was reading a book by Susie Moore. The name of the book is Let It Be Easy. The book was fine. That’s neither here nor there but the thing that she said was you see what you are and when you’re looking out at a movie or you’re looking out at a play or you’re listening to a song or even if you’re looking at someone else’s behavior, what you see is a reflection of yourself. That’s why two people can look at the same thing and get completely different answers from that. If you go back to last week’s episode with Madalyn, it was a two-parter about the art by Naudline Pierre, there was a moment where I was seeing something completely different than she was, like, “That was the bird and the finger.” She was seeing it and I was like, “No, the bird is just lifting her. She was doing this entirely different thing.” But what we do is we are taking ourselves to the artwork. I have this view in my head of—I’ve never actually created a graphic for it. I always say I’m going to but never actually do—but you’ve got the viewer and you’ve got the artwork. It isn’t a one-way thing. It’s not like the artwork is coming out at you and you are receiving it but it is your meeting in the middle. You’re giving the artwork everything that you are. The artwork is giving you everything that it is. It’s coming together in magical ways.
Even if you see the same artwork again and again, it will always be different because you are different and you bring to it. Then that adds in the power of community when you bring in a group of people, you bring in a conversation about it with a friend. Those conversations that me and Madalyn have with artwork, I get so much out of those. I learned so much about her. I learned so much about myself. I learned so much about the human spirit. I learned so much about art. It’s so powerful, way more powerful than I experienced it on my own. I saw that for proof when we talked about the Naudline Pierre last week because we saw that exhibit together. We talked about it a little bit while we were there but we didn’t fully dive into it. Usually, when me and her go to the museum, we don’t talk very much while we’re actually there. We just go off on our ways, we meet up here and there but it’s not like we look at them all together. We talk about it in the car on the way home or over lunch or whatever too, but it’s that magic of seeing yourself reflected back at you. It gives you a safe space to process your thoughts, your feelings, and everything that’s going on in your life.
That’s what You Need Art is going to be about. It’s about that connection. It’s about helping you find that connection for yourself and showing you what’s possible with that connection. Yes, we will give you tools and strategies for doing that for yourself but really it’s all about doing it. I want to give you a little homework assignment today because I feel like you can’t truly see this until you’ve done it for yourself. What I want you to do is go to an art museum. You’ve got to have one somewhere near you. Even if you live in a small town, go to your nearest big city. If you live in a big city, you probably have some good options. If you absolutely can’t, I like WikiArt. You’d go to wikiart.com and just do a random picture. There’s artwork of the day, then there’s also one you can just click random and just keep refreshing the page until you find one you like. I want you to pick an artwork and I want you to spend some time with it, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, just sit there with it, see what happens, and pick the artwork based on which one feels right. If it feels right that it’s some random small one in the corner that no one is looking at, then that’s it. Just go in, pick an artwork, explore it, see what it has to offer you, go in with no expectations, and just let me know how it goes. Send me an email, email@example.com.
That is what we’re all about here at You Need Art. Thank you so much for listening. I cannot wait to continue this conversation with you. If you want to join me in these conversations about art, we are running the Art Connection Circle starting on January 18th. It is a six-week program. We are in a small group together. We meet twice a week and we go through these art discussions. We talk about tools, interpretation strategies, thoughts and feelings, and interpretations. You get to really dive into this beautiful small group that will be there for you. It will be an incredibly, beautifully, powerful experience that I 100% believe will be transformational for you. I hope that you join us. Again, it starts on January the 18th. If you go to artclasscurator.com/circle, you can sign up. I look forward to working with you and seeing you in that group if you decide to take that leap, and invest in yourself for the new year.
Thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much for supporting this brand new venture of You Need Art. Again, if you are a teacher, you can still find all of the old episodes that are focused on teaching over at artclasscurator.com. Nothing has gone away officially, so just go check it out all over there. We are still alive and kicking, and helping teachers and students at artclasscurator.com. Thank you so much. I will see you again next week. Bye.
When was the last time you did something only for you, something that put you in touch with your innermost thoughts and feelings, something that filled your bucket and inspired your spirit? Too many of us can’t remember the last time we took the time to do something like that. A lot of people have never done it at all, but that’s exactly what the Art Connection Circle is all about. If you want to seek a deeper connection with yourself and with the human spirit, the Circle is for you. Learn more about what the Art Connection Circle has to offer you and how to join at artclassscurator.com/circle.
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