My Latest Art Project

March 19, 2011

Using old calendars, posters, magazines and discarded coffee table books, I have been making art envelopes. So many of my friends liked them that I have started selling them in two sizes: note size (4×6) and letter size (9.5×4.5). Special thanks goes to my friend Gregor for the 4×6 template and all our fun brainstorming sessions.

If you are interested in seeing/purchasing my envelopes, just let me know. Below is a cross-sampling, though my inventory changes all the time. If you have a party or event coming up, I’d love to create a theme envelopes for you!

Also, if you have any old calendars, large magazines or photo books you want to recycle, I can put them to great use!

(note size)

(letter size)

Some focus on Super-heroes or other pop culture figures. (note size)

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Great Article on InterPlay

March 11, 2011
InterPlay group teaches adults to play again
It uses music, storytelling to promote healing, self-discovery
Thursday, March 10, 2011
By Margaret Smykla
Members of InterPlay perform for Diversity Day at Community College of Allegheny County’s Allegheny campus on the North Side.

At an improvisational InterPlay session a few years ago at Lockhart prison near Austin, Texas, female inmates followed the lead of troupe members, sharing personal stories about rain.

A woman said her worst beating had occurred after playing, as a child, in a puddle in her Sunday-best church clothes. Expressing the painful experience to music, she marched angrily as if stomping in puddles of water.

“I could see what she was doing was very big to her,” said Sheila K. Collins of O’Hara, who led that day’s program.

When the inmate began crying, InterPlay members and fellow inmates embraced her.

“Now her memory of that incident will include 15 women hugging her,” said Ms. Collins, a social worker and former professional dancer.

InterPlay is an organization that re-teaches adults how to play, using music, dance, song and storytelling to heal and promote self-discovery.

“Adults have to reclaim what we used to do,” she said. They need to use the arts “to feel good about [themselves] and connect with others.” InterPlay was founded to help them do it.

Begun in 1989 in Oakland, Calif., InterPlay is practiced in 50 cities on five continents. Ms. Collins, a board member, established it in four Texas cities before moving to Pittsburgh in 2006.

Ms. Collins is director of the Wing & a Prayer Pittsburgh Players, an InterPlay-based performance group.

InterPlay is devoted to fun, its website, www.interplay.org, says. But it uses fun to integrate body, mind, heart and spirit.

While children sing, dance and play, regardless of how they sound or look to others, adults do not, Ms. Collins said.

“We have excuses, such as: ‘I’m not good enough’ and ‘People will laugh.’ ” InterPlay helps adults get past those fears.

At weekly practices, about 20 core troupe members begin with stretching and other movement exercises.

Words are chosen to reflect the theme of the evening or of an upcoming performance.

If, say, “food” is a theme word, members take turns sharing their reflections on food via moving, singing or storytelling.

“It begins with small, little steps that are very affirming, and before long you are doing much more complex improvisational forms and you feel very creative,” said research psychologist Pam Meadowcroft of Shadyside.

She and husband Jim Holland, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, are five-year troupe members.

Practices and shows include live music from members playing instruments such as keyboard, guitar or drum.

At performances, which are unscripted, the troupe might begin with a theme word to show the audience how InterPlay works, followed by members’ partnering with the audience.

The partners tell their stories to each other before switching partners and repeating the process.

“It helps us get past the usual way we do things and make discoveries about ourselves and others,” Ms. Collins said.

InterPlay also fosters camaraderie among the generations.

“These mechanisms of storytelling and movement and music are all connectors,” said Ms. Collins, whose grandchildren also participate. “It’s just fun,” she said.

Lois “Toni” McClendon of Swissvale, who is a storyteller in the African American oral tradition, is in the leader training program. She has taken classes at the Oakland facility and at Ms. Collins’ home.

Ms. McClendon said she would like to spread InterPlay to the black community because she thinks it would help with violence issues in the community by reducing stress and fostering inner peace.

“We don’t play enough,” she said.

Ms. Collins said InterPlay is especially relevant because the world is highly technical.

“The more time we spend in front of a screen — televisions, computers and smart phones — the more hungry we are for that real connection,” she said.

“Our ancestors sang and danced and told stories together, and we’ve lost that. InterPlay is bringing the old back and making it new.”

The troupe has performed at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Mt. Lebanon Village Intergenerational Games, Gilda’s Club, Sarah Heinz House and hospitals in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Its next performance will be during a daylong retreat April 9 at the First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh, 5401 Centre Ave. The event is sponsored by Persad, a group that serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

A show at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is tentatively scheduled for May 5.

Ms. Collins, who has a doctorate in adult and continuing education, will teach Aging Gracefully with InterPlay for seniors from May 10 to June 7 at the University of Pittsburgh.

For more, call Ms. Collins at 412-223-2536, e-mail sheilacollins@yahoo.com or visit www.sheilakcollins.com.

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer; suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.
First published on March 10, 2011 at 5:31 am

InterPlay for Men in February

February 4, 2011


Saturday, February 5 ~ Noon to 2:00pm

Tuesday, February 8 ~ 7:15pm to 9:15pm

Tuesday, February 22 ~ 7:15pm to 9:15pm

2101 Hennepin Ave S, #101, at Colfax Ave in S Mpls. Call for Directions: 612-644-1744

Investment $5-15 Sliding scale

 


Winter Advisory ~ The First Sign of Spring!

January 31, 2011

The forecast for the next 48 hours is so fierce that that groundhog may not even creep NEAR the cave door Wednesday morning. But ancient wisdom tells us Spring is getting ready to spring. Whether the groundhog’s shadow scares up another 6 weeks of Winter or not, the seeds have been planted. They are cracking open. It is light until almost 5:30pm these days and the power of the sun’s warmth can be seen in the dripping icicles.

We have made it halfway from the Yule Solstice to the Spring Equinox. February 1st/2nd is known among pagans as Imbolc, the Celtic holiday celebrating the coming  return of Spring and honoring Brighid, Irish goddess and saint, and her Four Fires: Creative Inspiration, Smithcraft, Healing, and Justice.

Come join in a playful stirring of those embers! We will dig down together into our hearts, muscles, voices and earth to find those first tender shoots of what will grow in the new year. Using InterPlay forms involving simple movement, story and music we’ll uncover as individuals and as a community what is really bubbling up from under the piles of snow. An evening of body-prayer is just what the forecast calls for!

Time:
Tuesday, February 1
7:15pm – 9:15pm

Location:
2101 Hennepin Ave S, #101
At Colfax Ave in S Mpls
Call for Directions: 612-644-1744
There is a trick to parking!

Investment:
$5-  $15

Bring: An object or song that symbolizes the new embers/seeds of Spring you sense in yourself or your world.

Fire, water, steam, and spark,
Brighid’s fire push back the dark
Forge, anvil, well, and spear,
Brighid’s flame burn true and clear

Even now, in the sleep of winter,
the seeds are starting to tremble under the snow
and Brighid, the bright one, calls them to life.


2 great articles on embodied learning and play

January 31, 2011

‘Stretching brains’

while moving

bodies

Dance, other movement, enhance learning, instructors say
Updated: 01/31/2011 12:22:41 AM CST

Christopher Yaeger stands at the front of the makeshift dance studio, explaining a new move.

This is the merengue, he says. It comes from the Dominican Republic and involves Cuban hip motions.

The dance students squirm, some giggle, some practice other steps as they listen.

But when Yaeger tells them to find a partner and start moving their feet, they swarm into action.

“Step, step, step, step. Get those hips going,” Yeager instructs. “Now stop and thank your partner.”

He glances at one of the other teachers in the room and says, “Not bad for third-graders, eh? I’m impressed.”

Yaeger, a dance instructor with the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, has been brought in to teach dance to teachers and students at Lakes International Language Academy in Forest Lake. The Spanish-immersion grade school is one of six schools in the state winning grants to participate in the two-year Arts Courses for Educators program.

The philosophy behind the program is that movement, when incorporated into other topic areas, enhances the learning process.

The dance program costs about $8,000 a year per school and is funded by the state.

Teachers started their training at Perpich in November, and Yaeger was at the Forest Lake school earlier this month to get the students moving.

He’ll return twice before year’s end, but between his visits it’s up to the teachers to keep the kids dancing and to weave movement into other lessons.

“Sometimes you can tie it in directly to the topic, like learning about Native Americans. For others, it’s about the social aspect,” said Jenni Muras, a physical education teacher.

“Dancing can be whatever you make it. Like in a natural disaster unit, ‘Act like a tornado — ‘ ” she said, bursting from her library chair, twirling with a “whoosh” and a smile.

For the kids, it’s a fun break from the routine.

“I like how we can, like, move around,” said John Stachel, 10, following his fifth-grade classroom’s session with Yaeger. “It’s good exercise. It’s like a sport. It’s really fun.”

For the fifth-graders, Yaeger moved from the merengue to something distinctly American: hip-hop moves set to a Black Eyed Peas tune.

“Can we do it again?” asked Noah Mroszak, 10, not letting his cast and crutches slow him down.

“This generation just loves to move,” Yaeger said. “I don’t have any trouble getting these kids to move. My trouble is having enough repertoire.”

Lakes International, which has little of a theater arts curriculum, jumped on the opportunity to participate in the dance program, school director Cam Hedlund said.

The social skills, movements and artistic influences that come with the dance lessons are superb

teaching tools, he said.”Any kind of learning, as soon as you put kinesthetic movement to it, is improved,” said Hedlund, a former physical education teacher. “Our whole program is based on stretching the brain into other areas.”

Elizabeth Mohr can be reached at 651-228-5162.

-From The Pioneer Press

Joe Robinson

It’s a vision problem that no laser surgery can cure, a hyperopia that keeps us from seeing the central source of happiness right next to us. That problem is called adulthood. Those who are afflicted with this condition have trouble focusing on nearby objects of amusement and the realm that delivers the most enjoyment per square inch: play. Adults are oblivious to what they knew as kids — that play is where you live.

Grownups aren’t supposed to play. We have problems. We’re too busy. We have important things to do. It turns out, though, that there are few things more important to your happiness than frequent doses of play. As a study led by Princeton researcher Alan Krueger found, of all the things on the planet, we’re at our happiest when we’re involved in engaging leisure activities. Why not do more of that?

Well, there’s the entrenched masochism that we seem to prefer, stemming from the built-in bias against anything that’s not full-blast production mode. “Talking about adult play is kind of taboo in our culture,” says Lynn Barnett-Morris, of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, an expert on the effects of play on personality. “We think it’s a waste of time or that we could be more productive doing other things — all sorts of dumb stuff.”

We live in a culture obsessed with wringing an external result from everything we do. Play doesn’t operate on that metric. It’s not about the end but the experience. This has made play one of the last remaining taboos, an irrational deviation from gainful obligation. What we don’t realize, though, is that it’s precisely the lack of a quantifiable result that allows play to tap a more meaningful place that satisfies core needs and reveals the authentic person behind the masks of job and society.

Anthropologist Gregory Bateson believed that the fixation on making everything productive and rational cuts us off from the world of the spontaneous that is home to real knowledge. Wisdom, Bateson believed, is to be found in the realms outside intentionality, in the inner reaches of art, expression and religion. “The whole culture is suffering from overconscious intentionality, overseriousness, overemphasis on productivity and work,” psychologist and cultural explorer Bradford Keeney told me. “We’ve forgotten that the whole picture requires a dance between leisure and work.”

Play isn’t a character defect; it’s the builder of character, developing persistence, competence, mastery and social skills that take us beyond perceived limitations. It was there in the faces and confidence of stunt-kite fliers, salsa dancers and badminton enthusiasts I met along the road to my new book on the power of participant experience, “Don’t Miss Your Life.” Everyone I met had dramatically upgraded self-esteem and a sense of self anchored by something that’s supposed to be worthless.

Studies show that play reflects more of who you are than your work. When you’re engaged in activities of “personal expressiveness,” ones that are self-chosen and that reflect intrinsic goals, you’re operating from the “true self,” says Alan Waterman of the College of New Jersey.
This leads to optimal psychological functioning (i.e., happiness). We’re talking about something far from tangential to your existence. Play scholar John Neulinger called passionate play pursuits none other than the “central life interest.”

Play brings you back to life — your life. “Adults need to play because so much of our life is utilitarian, the University of South Alabama’s Catherine O’Keefe explained to me. “We need to reconnect with the things of our lives that ground us in who we really are and why we like our lives.”

When a 40-year-old goes headfirst down a water slide, that person is not 40 anymore. A few decades have been knocked off, because something inside has come alive again. It should be pretty obvious that the animating spark of play is the fast track to happiness. There is no quicker transport to the experiential realm and full engagement than through play, which brings together all the elements you want for the optimal moment.

  1. Play is 100-percent experience.
  2. It’s done for the intrinsic pleasure, for the participation.
  3. With no judgment or outcomes needed, play grounds you in the now.

Researchers say that the more absorbed we are in activities we like to do, the happier we are. Abraham Maslow and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi pinpointed the power of full involvement in the moment to produce optimal experiences. Maslow called optimal moments the time when we are most attuned, “more integrated and less split, more perfectly actualizing.” He argued that these instants of sublime activation had all the hallmarks of the religious or mystical but were triggered by intensely felt, secular experiences.

Linda Imle, a cyclist, computer technician and grandmother in Fairbanks, Alaska, told me that when she’s on the road with her bike, “it’s a coming together of mind, body and spirit. It’s one of the highest of all highs.” Imle cycled the entirety of Route 66, Chicago to Santa Monica, on her 66th birthday.

Contrary to stereotype, engaged play is the gateway not to time-wasting but to times that let you contact deeper realms. When you paint a canvas or play volleyball, you’re in a creative improvisation that calls on inner fortitude and commitment and that reflect your values through self-expression. Play satisfies core self-determination needs, such as autonomy and competence, as little else can, connecting you with your mandate to explore and challenge yourself. That’s the integration Maslow was talking about. You tap the true you, not the performance identity of the job or the presentation identity that we display to others. Play relieves you of the burden to be someone you’re not. There’s nothing on the line; it’s just play. Just you.

When it comes to beefing up your happiness, it’s hard to do better than engaged play. Not only does it align you with your deepest needs and deliver fun in the moment, but the social component of play is a huge predictor of increased daily well-being, the research shows. Participating in recreational activities has been connected to increased positive mood and experiencing pleasure. And play increases the odds that you’re going to have more fun in your life because it’s a huge stress buffer, reducing strain and burnout, boosting your immune system and pumping up vitality and energy.

When you’re stressed, the brain’s activated emotional hub, the amygdala, suppresses positive mood, fueling a self-perpetuating cycle of negativity. Play can break you out of that straitjacket. It also cut through stagnation at the office. Studies show that playfulness can increase performance on the job and stoke creativity by breaking up the mental set that keeps us stuck. It resets the brain.

This tonic we write off as trivial is a crucial engine of well-being. In its low-key, humble way, play yanks grownups out of their purposeful sleepwalk to reveal the animating spirit within. You are alive, and play will prove it to you.

Joe Robinson is author of the new book, “Don’t Miss Your Life”,” on the science, skills and spirit of full-tilt living. He is founder of Work to Live and is a work-life balance and stress management trainer and coach.

-Posted on Huffington Post


Feb/March Classes

January 31, 2011

Saturdays ~ 9:30am – 11:30am

Feb. 5 ~ Playing with Contact, Moving Together

Feb. 12 ~ Playing with Movement, Shaping & Stillness

Feb. 19 ~ Playing with Babbling/Words/Story

Feb. 26 ~ Playing with Rhythm, Sound & Voice

Mar. 5 ~ Playing with Contact, Moving Together

Mar. 12 ~ Playing with Movement, Shaping & Stillness

Mar. 19 ~ Playing with Babbling/Words/Story

Mar. 26 ~ Playing with Rhythm, Sound & Voice

Apr. 2  ~ Playing with Contact, Moving Together

Saturdays 12noon-2:00pm

Feb. 5 ~ InterPlay for Men

Feb. 12 ~ Rooting, Climbing & Lifting in Contact InterPlay


Tuesdays ~ 7:15pm – 9:15pm

Feb. 1 ~ Brigid’s Day

Feb. 8 ~ InterPlay for Men

Feb. 15 ~ Exploring Your Spiritual Journey Thru Story, Song & Movement

Feb. 22 ~ InterPlay for Men

Mar. 1 ~ Dancing On Behalf Of

Investmet: $15 per session or $60 for 5 sessions

Location: 2101 Hennepin Ave S #101 at Colfax Ave in Minneapolis

Registration: Contact Marty Roddy 612-644-1744 or martrodd@yahoo.com


Faces of InterPlay

January 24, 2011