Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A New Paradigm

This week's story caused me a big brain cramp trying to birth it.  It may be because it's more about my messy state of mind than the neat and pretty art I've been up to. Change, which I can't control, versus drawings and designs, which I can. I've interspersed the art for relief when you get tired of the words. Hope you don't get a brain cramp too.

When I was a public school educator back in the eighties, our school administration conducted a serious of lecture/workshops to introduce the faculty to some "new" social terminology (lifted from the field of scientific research): the paradigm. Simply stated, this is any philosophical or theoretical framework widely accepted as the norm. When you embrace the paradigm, you are "in the box." 

The goal was to acknowledge our current habits of reasoning and learning, and  to begin thinking "outside the box." This movement to new social structures is called a "paradigm shift." As I recall, we were instructed that a BIG ONE was happening in society.  The computer was starting to be everywhere, and for that and other reasons, our world was getting smaller.  Now we had to be on board to teach our students  the art of change.

Sketching at the mall with water soluble pen

Soon to be a victim of changing paradigms

At least that's how I recall it. Maybe I was doodling in the margins, and thinking about a guy named Fred, but I swear there were boxes and arrows and all kinds of lists of "what's in" and "what's out" and "what's about to be in and out."

That was about twenty five years ago (I gave up teaching about five years later, for numerous reasons I may talk about another day), and it's all really a blur except for the gut memory of confusion and boredom at these sessions. But in the end, a lot of change has come to pass in the way we think about and live our lives. This considerable shift in social structures has brought about what I believe is a big change in brain function as well. In those days, even with the prevalence of computers and video games, most of my interaction with people in my life was face to face, or at least ear to ear (with extended phone conversation.)  On the days that I couldn't get to my friends, we would talk in endless detail in cohesive phone chats.

Sketching on location: outdoor details (as seem through a window)

Just before the snow melted

Nowadays the phone almost never rings, and "chat" is barely more than instant text exchange. Most of my daily human interaction (outside that old school presence of a live in spouse) is done in tiny tidbits of short isolated postings over the Internet. As much as I love to death all the new people I am meeting and the possibilities of relationships that abound, it no longer has the same intense, messy personal connection of those pre-cyberspace days. I look at the sheer number of humans I talk to daily and then consider how many of them can be there for me in real life. What can be so comforting in theory (unlimited connection), fails to fulfill the real human need for physical proximity, eye contact, touch. "LOL" is definitely not the same as laughing together.

A box made from art to store small art journals

The bottom and inside of the box; a real, not theoretical one

And yet, if it weren't for this new "box,"  I wouldn't be talking to all of you, and I wouldn't be exploring my art which has become, in a very short while, the center of my life. I think I understand there is no going back and I wouldn't want to. So I've decided not to emphasize the negative aspects that come with change, but embrace what's good in it.

My most recent design in Contemporary Woven Boro, called "Blue Moon Heart"

Being aware of the box, I too can think outside. If I can help it, I will have a long connected life. It is far from over, and I intend to continue looking beyond the horizon where the best of the future will be. I'm going to follow that sun.


  1. Love the sketches! They are somewhat very technical, but artistic at the same time =) I like the way they are colored as well, and the boxes are FUN!

  2. Hello fellow Chicagoan! I love your sketches. I too undrestand what you are talking about with the world shift in how we form relationships or lack of real and meaningful deep connections with others. A while back I had left the corporate world and am now out on my own. It is a drastic shift of day to day human connectedness and sometimes can be hard. I also think in today's society where families can be spread out across cities, a nation or even countries, it can make that even stronger felt. We don't have the support system our grandparents or even parents had.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about all the "techno-change" exploding around us. Thanks, too, for your positive willingness to embrace the good in it, knowing that most everything has its downside.

  4. One year ago I met 3 wonderful friends because of our blogs and last Fall met a 4th. We live close enough to each other to become more than virtual friends, and would never have met except for our common interests and our blogs. And these relationships quickly became as important as many others in my world. We meet regularly both at our apartments, and on field trips around the City. Some night we also have virtual chats among all of us on email, quickly getting up to 30 or more "reply to all" emails that have all of us laughig. And at this very moment we are all supporting one of our group of 5 go through chemotherapy. I would never have met these 4 wonderful women if there was not a huge paradigm shift - and if I had not started blogging 5 years ago. Embracing change is a good thing, and hopefully can lead to real human contact and lots of laughs, tears, and hugs.

  5. and of course, I met Shirley, above, online and then met her in person in Houston and have also met the people she is writing about, in person, and one is a VERY good friend, and we first met online!! small cyber world indeed.!! Friendships do develop and are true.
    and hey, your pages from my online workshop look GREAT!!!

  6. i think that's a great philosophy to have, cheryl. i'm a graphic designer and all my work is on the computer and I can get fed up with it. Especially when friends expect me to embrace everything about computers [including computer-created art] I purposely turn my back on it. But, like you, it has opened up my world to groups like EDM, exposed me to more global inspiration and research. So that's a great attitude to have about focusing on the positives and not the negatives. I do love that line: "LOL" is definitely not the same as laughing together.
    cheers, meegan

  7. I have a good friend (Vicki, a fellow EDMr) whom I met on line, and we live close enough to get together and do things. I would never have met her without the internet. That said, I agree that real face-to-face human contact seems to be getting more and more rare outside of a work setting. Thanks for the thoughtful post! Your art is lovely, varied, and so creative! nancy

  8. What an insightful post. I totally agree and miss the real life contact of days gone by. Your artwork is beautiful and inspiring. One of these days I will actually begin my own blog (right now I am the reader of many, writer on none) and hopefully have some wonderful experiences as Shirley did! Thank you for this post.

  9. How well you expressed your view. I am sure there are many who agree!
    Enjoyed the sketches too!

  10. Cheryl very interesting post on the 'box' and the changes (quite dramatic) we have experienced thus far in our lives.
    Like you, art has become a huge and very important part of my life. I love the interaction with other artists via blogging and in the couple of groups I am in with likeminded friends.
    Blue Moon Heart is beautiful. Such a lovely, soothing piece and I love those fish, they give such a feeling of calm.
    And your sketches are wonderful. Lovely to see in someone elses journal/sketch book! Look forward to visiting and seeing more.

    Jacky xox