Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Retreat Exercise that Has Larger Uses Too

While on the retreat to plan the retreat, we did a great exercise which I think can be used in non-retreat situations too. I thought it might help to have a picture of the end result, followed by a discussion of the process.

We divided up in pairs. Each pair got a piece of construction paper and two piles of neon-colored stickers, the kind that's like an office supply (to mark file folders or reinforce punched holes). We did the exercise in silence.

One person put a sticker on the paper, and then the other person put one sticker on the paper, and the process continued until each person decided to be done (we folded our hands when done). Each person could only place one sticker on the paper during any given turn.

When done, we put our papers on the board and meditated on all of them as a group. What a diverse group of finished projects. Some people had tried to create some sort of realism: flowers and figures and suns in the sky. Some of us did abstract art. All of the projects were compelling.

We talked about the implications. We talked about the implications in spiritual terms (go here for more) and artistic terms. I was amazed by how much I liked the other creations and after viewing them, how lacking I found the one that my partner and I made. I found myself wishing I had been given differently shaped stickers--no need for analysis there.

I plan to experiment with this approach in my Composition class. I wonder if it would lead to a good Process essay. In the past, I've had them create something out of Legos and write precise instructions, just to demonstrate how difficult it is to write precise instructions. Would this exercise do the same? Or maybe I'll use it as a leaping point to talk about creative processes in general. I teach a lot of creative students after all.

Stay tuned!


Sandy Longhorn said...

Very cool. I think this would work wonderfully as an ice-breaking exercise in almost any class or group.

Sherry O'Keefe said...

double cool, yes! i have been working on a poetry project in which we watch how one "act of art" begats another work of art. in your example, two people worked on one piece, without speaking outloud. (if i understood it correctly). what happens to us when we read A's poetry? what would B's responding poem be like? what happens when we are under the influence of another? what if your sticker-mate was trying to be abstract and you were working towards the concrete vision of a flower? all so very interesting. thanks for this.

Kristin said...

Sandy, we did it at the end of our retreat, and we knew each other before that, but you're right, it would make a good ice breaker, especially since it doesn't involve talking--great for introverts.

Sherry, we did have one pair who admitted that one partner moved towards the symmetrical and balanced and orderly, while the other wanted to go the opposite way. They were humorous about their frustration, but they had fun overall.

Thank you both for commenting.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks for the clarification. I can see it working well in both cases.