Blogging the 2014 GIA Conference : Zoom Out

Grantmakers in the Arts invited me to be a guest blogger at their conference, October 12-15 in Houston. Here is the first of my posts -- more to come. 

Zoom Out

Days One and Two at the 2014 GIA conference in Houston have gone by quickly — jam packed days with sessions from early morning (8:00) through evening (9:00 or 10:00 + socializing) and almost no breaks. I have been Tweeting during several sessions@Lutman_Sarah and taking copious notes for future posts that will take some time to compose. So stay tuned.

On Monday the very first session I attended was Art and Tech: Bending New Technologies to Native Traditions, organized by Wendy Red Star, Program Associate, and T. Lulani Arquette, President and CEO, of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, based in Vancouver, Washington. The session provided a platform for three Native artists to present their work to a relatively small but deeply engrossed audience. Its description promised an exploration of  tradition as a vital piece of a cultural continuum that is fluid, and added that, “Native peoples are not trapped in amber.”

The three artists who shared their work were Raven Chacon, composer; Rose Simpson, multi-media artist, and Kealoha Wong, poet. Follow the links and check out their work or better yet go and find them and their work in person. In thinking about how I would tell you about the session, which moved me and I’m guessing others to tears, I decided to ask National Slam Legend Kealoha if he would share a portion of the 14-minute poem he performed. It’s part of a larger work he explained as his life’s work — a 90-minute exploration of the intersections between the hard science he mastered as an MIT-trained physicist and traditions of creation storytelling. His electric performance took us from the Big Bang to primordial ooze and to dinosaurs, birds, and homo sapiens and then out into the cosmos to see ourselves in the grand perspective of geological time.

When the poem, Zoom Out, reached its climax, the right stage was set for what conferences like this are all about anyway — to get some necessary perspective on what life means in your corner of the universe, to get a grip on your own cosmic insignificance and to remember that joy is the answer to life’s mysteries and truths. “you, me, all of us … are transient … / you will not be you in the grand scheme of things, which makes all your suffering trivial / which makes your ecstasy the only thing worth remembering as part of the universe”

Read the poem HERE