On November 12, Visionary Leaders from across Philadelphia gathered at ArtWell to be part of an important dialogue about how a collective group of leaders can mobilize to create change, specifically, within ArtWell’s classrooms. ArtWell hand-selected the inspirational Visionary Leaders based of off their impressive personal achievements and great vision for our city.
ArtWell teachers and staff unveiled the exciting new program, the Art of Growing Leaders, funded by Impact100, and invited the leaders to be part of the program by either becoming a personal mentor to a student, or by developing a supplement to be taught in the classroom about what it takes to become a leader. The response was overwhelming. The presence, participation, vision and creativity made it a truly inspiring afternoon.
View photos from the event!
Opening Speech by ArtWell’s Executive Director,
30 Years ago: I am 1000% certain that I would not have envisioned being with all of you, and amazing and inspiring gathering of Visionary Leaders. I was in graduate school at Princeton Theological Seminary at which time I was also experiencing a serious back injury and several unexpected losses that somehow were the perfect storm that made it IMPOSSIBLE for me to concentrate and to access my usual ways of coping. Totally Lost and ..Terrified both felt like radical understatements to my condition at the time. I knew I was incapable of meeting my esteemed institution’s expectations much less my own. Because I was felt hopeless in the library trying to write papers and study for exams, I signed up for a watercolor class….and discovered a whole new world…NOT the world that the art teacher envisioned…but a new world for me, where I could have cared less about what she thought, as was completely amazed at the intensity and flow of the Cadmium Red across my whole paper as I heard the teacher gasp: Oh no, you just ruined that painting…and I knew that Oh Yes, this was a key to totally uncharted territory!
This experience repeated itself, as I found time and time again, that by showing up at a completely BLANK …totally EMPTY canvas…whole new worlds …feelings, images…and visions emerged. So much so, that I focused the rest of my graduate work on exploring artists and communities that had found meaning…and THRIVING amidst overwhelming challenges through a commitment to soulful artistic expression. This exploration was truly an anchor as my previously constructed self and world fell apart piece by piece…in order to emerge into a configuration that was in the end…TOTALLY beyond my wildest hopes and dreams.
30 Years ago, I had NO idea that Albert Einstein whose home I walked by every day in my efforts to literally put one foot in front of the next: actually was heard saying: I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be” I could NOT see what I see now: a room full of faces of extraordinary leaders who inspire me..and all of us at ArtWell with your courage…your vision…your tenacity to show up and take yet another step amidst incredible obstacles…your LOVE for this city..this region…for the vision of a city that can embody sisterly and brotherly love…for your investment not in the I of your knowing…but in the WE that is our true power. 30 years ago, I of course had no idea that I would be at my now annual participation in the Philanthropy Network where I was along with several of you yesterday. The focus was Sparking Solutions for Collective Impact…where Stacey Holland shared that she had the chance to talk with one of the last Freedom Riders, and they talked about We Can Solve anything…but Will We? Many things competing for our attention: the challenge is to pick something that you are really mad about…Get on that bus, and Stay on the bus until the issue is solved. At ArtWell, our bus is our belief that arts education is civil right that all our kids …that means all kids are entitled too.
And for their full creative development we want them to know Visionary Leaders of all shapes, sizes, shades. Not only those who they read about in books..though those leaders too! We want them to know the Visionary Leaders in their own lives: the teachers, principals, grandmothers and fathers, leaders in our city of diverse callings…who face incredible obstacles and witness how they treat these obstacles as opportunities for change…and who channel their outrage into fuel for social change! who go deeper…are draw on connections to the LOVE…even in the midst of it all…are inspired by Love of Life, and by the Vision of our City and Region…the vision that we can have/ can be the city of true sisterly and brotherly love.
We know we are this…because of you with your extraordinary hearts, minds and lives at work…You who Never give up on Love. Love of the Visions that come in different shapes, sizes and shades of a realized Beloved Community, Love of the Creative Process that sparks the genius in everyone and in the collective…Love of the vision that all of our youth 2 deserve a free and fair public education, Love of the ending of racial inequities with Libraries and Learning for all. Love of a city where all are safe and also respected …including for their beliefs…and Love for the belief that people of very different faiths and walks of life can work together for the common good. Love of peace and honor and resources for our elders… Love of a place where there are homes and jobs for all. Love of our earth…and the ability to live in awe and wonder and harmony with the natural world and all of our relations. Love that calls us to lay down our egos, our greed, our guns and open our arms and hearts to what is most, so that all our youth know amidst the serious challenges…there are many many gifts and treasures…there is an abundance of vision, hope and love in our communities, and that we can work together to create the city and world that we all want to live in together.
You get the picture: you Know this picture…You are an essential part of this picture and we are so honored with your presence and the chance to honor you today…I also feel honored to share this time with others who I know as Visionary Leaders with ArtWell.