Projects

New Values: Changing Terms in a Psychological Classification

Unintended consequences of making art around recent positive psychology.

Christine Wong Yap, Character Strengths Signal Flags, 2015, linen, twill tape, letterpress-printed ribbon, rope, wood, flagpoles; 24 flags: 12.5 x 12 inches each; edition of three; flagpoles: 72–84 x 12 x 12 inches each; display: 73.5 x 20.5 x 27 inches. Photo: Anna Ablogina.

Christine Wong Yap, Character Strengths Signal Flags, 2015, linen, twill tape, letterpress-printed ribbon, rope, wood, flagpoles; 24 flags: 12.5 x 12 inches each; edition of three; flagpoles: 72–84 x 12 x 12 inches each; display: 73.5 x 20.5 x 27 inches. Photo: Anna Ablogina.

 

From 2013 to 2015, I designed, printed, and sewed Character Strengths Signal Flags. Each flag represented one of 24 character strengths in psychologist Martin Seligman’s and Chris Petersen’s Values in Action classification.

Recently I revisited the VIA website, and noticed that some of the strengths have been renamed. Those are listed below.

The new names relate to the old ones, but I can’t help but wonder: What is gained and lost with the linguistic updates?

  • Open-mindedness  Judgment
  • Persistence  Perseverance
  • Integrity  Honesty
  • Vitality  Zest
  • Citizenship  Teamwork
  • Self-Control  Self-Regulation
  • Appreciation of Beauty  Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence

I’m not a psychologist, but as the classification is aimed towards the public, the researchers are probably interested in accessible language. Here’s how I interpret the updates.

Some changes seem relatively minor—persistence and perseverance, and vitality and zest are phrasings many people would use interchangeably. Witnessing excellence can be beautiful; I can see the kinship in the appreciation of of the two. Psychologists might distinguish between self-control and self-regulation, but I don’t think general audiences would.

I believe the most dramatic change is from open-mindedness (withholding judgment) to judgment. In an era of snap judgments and constantly streaming opinions, I wonder why the researchers abandoned the self-assured open-mindedness, and then opted for judgment over the more measured critical thinking. Also, swapping integrity in favor of honesty seems complicated, too. To me, integrity implies a higher order of ethics and self-concordance than honesty.

The shift from citizenship to teamwork could inspire much deconstruction. The former implies geopolitics, nationhood, and the problems of inclusion, exclusion, and rights.* It’s too limiting for the meaning, which I interpret as the spirit of civic and social engagement.  On the other hand, teamwork originates in sport, but is now correlated with the workplace and management. This identity shift, from a (presumably) contributing member of a (presumably) democratic society, to a (likely, immaterial knowledge) worker, hits a nerve—it appears to be another instance of neoliberalism’s pervasive effect on our identities, where the corporation overtakes the state as the primary force organizing social relations.

While I don’t mean to conflate positive psychologists’ research with pop psychology writing, I did find a passage from Louis Menand’s essay on self-help business books (“The Life Biz,” New Yorker Magazine, March 28, 2016) to be relevant:

“It’s not surprising that every era has a different human model to suit a different theory of productivity, but it is mildly disheartening to realize how readily we import these models into our daily lives. We apply technologies of the self to our own selves, and measure our worth by the standards of the workplace.”

——

Addendum:

Justin Langlois‘ comments on citizenship (in “Questioning Citizenship at the Venice Biennale: Responses and Interventions,” C Magazine, Issue 128, Winter 2016) are too good not to cite.

First, the urgency of the question of citizenship:

“The idea of citizenship, and who gets to grant it, receive it, retain it and who has to give it up, is clearly one of the most pressing issues of our time.”

Then, a call to action to practice citizenship:

“Our citizenship relies on the testing of its very boundaries. And more often, it relies on a series of small and not-so-small gestures that secure or resist it, and that help us to exercise our capacity to measure, record and produce social and civic life together. Art provides an inventory of expanded practices and poetics that might offer us clues on how to do this, but we must work to hone our own actions and activities towards more complicated expressions that can evince our agency in the world. If we await an invitation to perform our citizenship, we will never get around to producing it ourselves.”

While of course I value cooperation and the ability to work well with others, what teamwork doesn’t account for is the desire and responsibility to “evince our agency in the world.”

 

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News

Through Sept. 20: Bronx Calling @ the Bronx Museum

Participants are invited to string together the flags representing  their strengths. Connect the toggles to the loops.

Participants are invited to string together the flags representing their strengths. Will shows how it’s done: connecting toggles to the loops.

July 9–September 20, 2015
Bronx Calling: The Third AIM Biennial
Bronx Museum, 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY
Always free.
Open Thursdays–Sundays 11–6 and until 8 on Fridays.

I’m very pleased that this exhibition, which has been two years in the making, is now open. It includes work from 72 participants in the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ Artists in the Marketplace program, who have diverse, strong practices (whose praises I sing in the Time Out article below).

On July 15, the museum held an open house for Bronx Calling as well as ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York (recommended!). Over 1,000 people attended. See photos of the open house, which included numerous performances.

I’m debuting Character Strengths Signal Flags. This project has been three years in the making—I designed and sewed 24 signal flags in an edition of three. Each flag has a letterpress-printed label identifying the character strength and one of the six categories developed by positive psychologists Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman. The flags are installed with a legend and flagpoles. Viewers are invited to find and fly the flags of their strengths. See more pics on my website.

Character Strengths Signal Flags, 2015, linen, twill tape, letterpress-printed ribbon, rope, wood, flagpoles; 24 flags: 12.5 x 12 inches each; edition of three; flagpoles: 72–84 x 12 x 12 inches each; display: 73.5 x 20.5 x 27 inches.

Character Strengths Signal Flags, 2015, linen, twill tape, letterpress-printed ribbon, rope, wood, flagpoles; 24 flags: 12.5 x 12 inches each; edition of three; flagpoles: 72–84 x 12 x 12 inches each; display: 73.5 x 20.5 x 27 inches.

See Time Out New York! 

Dana Varinsky. “Emerging Artists Take the Bronx,” Time Out New York, July 15, 2015.

Dana Varinsky. “Emerging Artists Take the Bronx,” Time Out New York, July 15, 2015.

Bonus: You can top off your visit with a street festival!
Sundays, August 2, 9 and 16, 12–4pm
Boogie on the Boulevard
Right in front of the Bronx Museum, Grand Concourse from 161st Street to 167th Street will be closed to cars and open to a world of fun with free music, activities, and programs hosted by artists and organizations from the Bronx and beyond. What’s not to like?

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Research

Happiness Is… Research Note #4

I habitually plan ahead, but there are lots of things I only learn by doing (and failing). Likewise, experiences drive home the principles I  intend to remember but somehow forget.

Such was the case today, as I got to work on a new project sewing twill tape and transparent vinyl. I had a slow start, as I learned to reconcile the surprisingly stretchy twill tape with the not stretchy-at-all vinyl. It took a few hours for me to find a rhythm and start to make real progress.

So at dinner, I sang my sewing machine’s praises. It felt trusty, reliable, like a lithium ion drill driver—I finally felt like my burgeoning skills are appropriately utilizing some of the machine’s capacities, while the promise of more advanced projects lay ahead for the two of us.

It was ironic, then, when my sewing machine’s feed dogs stopped advancing. Then, the reverse lever offered none of its usual resistance. Something snapped, inside the machine first, and then inside me second. I panicked. I have a lot of production ahead of me during this residency, and most of it requires sewing. I don’t have time for the machine to sit in a repair shop!

But this is the reality, and I must conform to it. As Martin Seligman explains in Flourish, there are realities you can shape, and those you can’t. I can’t change the fact that my sewing machine needs repair. But I can work so that this setback doesn’t derail my residency.

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Research

optimism and setbacks, tony tasset sculptures

Happiness experienced by an entrepreneur over time. Michael Yap. Source: twitter.com/#!/michaelryap

Happiness experienced by an entrepreneur over time. Michael Yap. Source: twitter.com/#!/michaelryap

As Martin Seligman points out, the difference between optimists and pessimists is not that optimists do not suffer from setbacks, but that they optimists weather setbacks better.

 

Tony Tasset, Mood Sculpture, 2011, Fiberglass and paint, 90" x 18" diameter, Photos: courtesy Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago // Source: ArtLtdMag.com

Tony Tasset, Mood Sculpture, 2011, Fiberglass and paint, 90" x 18" diameter, Photos: courtesy Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago // Source: ArtLtdMag.com

 

Tony Tasset, Why Can't We All Just Get Along?, 2009, lambda print, 47" x 47". Source: KaviGupta.com

Tony Tasset, Why Can't We All Just Get Along?, 2009, lambda print, 47" x 47". Source: KaviGupta.com

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Research

Highlights from the Positive Psychology conference

Last weekend I attended the International Positive Psychology Association’s Second World Congress on Positive Psychology in Philadelphia, PA, with the support of a Travel and Study Grant from the Jerome Foundation. It was an invigorating experience. I gained new concepts, an inspired list of books to read, and a clearer understanding of this growing field.

Positive psychology is a new realm; I’ve encountered skepticism of it based on its name only. But the conference (which I’ll call ‘IPPA,’ pronounced “IH-pah”) featured rigorous empirical researchers and practitioners across clinical psychology, education, business, and the humanities. With 1,200 whip-smart attendees from 62 countries, I felt as though I was part of an emergent domain that will revolutionize psychology as well as culture. I’ve been reading books about positive psychology since 2009; IPPA made me excited to learn more and help advance the field as it intersects with the arts and humanities.

What is positive psychology? Perhaps this is best explained via the words of its founding psychologists, Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (2000), as quoted by Robert Vallerand:

“Psychology should document how people’s lives can be most worth living.”

To paraphrase James Pawelski, IPPA President as well as the Director of Education and Senior Scholar at the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program at UPenn, one of the leading centers of research and scholarship:

Positive psychology is not merely a psychology for sunny days. It is also a psychology for rainy days…. [As a young person witnessing the aftermath of the recent terrorist acts in Norway said,] ‘If one man can create so much hate and death, how much good can we create together?’

I think it was also Pawelski, in discussing the positive turn in humanities, who expressed that

We see positive psychology as balancing (negative) psychology

which for the 20th century has been fixated on trauma, illness, and pathology. As in physical medicine, it is high time to expand beyond treatment towards wellbeing. As Chris Peterson put it:

“Health is more than the absence of illness”

and so too, psychological wellbeing is more than the absence of pathology. The positive psychology view according to Martin Seligman is that

People are not driven by the past, but can be drawn to the future.

Again, Pawelski:

Rather than seeing the positive as simplistic, positive psychology makes the positive more complex.

What I looked forward to. Many of my drawings in the Positive Signs series, as well as some concepts in my essays on Art Practical, were inspired by Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity. During my residency at Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild immediately preceding IPPA, I read Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. So I was very excited to hear Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi speak.

Seligman (left) and Csikszentmihalyi (right) are named IPPA Fellows.

Seligman (left) and Csikszentmihalyi (right) are named IPPA Fellows.

I was also excited to meet potential partners, especially those whose work intersects with the arts. I suspect that principles of positive psychology can be useful for contemporary artists by informing:

processes, by becoming aware of flow activities;

artwork, via increased understanding of relationships created in the art viewing experience and new theories of phenomenology; and

attitudes, especially in regards to experiencing career setbacks and successes.

Highlights. I was very excited about:

Clearer definitions. University of Illinois researcher Ed Diener identified

preconditions of happiness as optimism, positive experiences, and lack of negative affect.

Gallup Scientist in Residence Shane Lopez pinpoints hope.

“Hope is goal-directed thinking (goals thinking) in which people perceive that they can produce routes to desired goals (pathways thinking) and the requisite motivation to use those routes (agency thinking).

Hope — The ideas and energy we have for the future.

High hope people believe that the future will be better than the present and that they have the power to make it so.”

Matt Gallagher, a clinical psychology researcher at the University of Kansas, distinguishes between hope and optimism:

Hope (Snyder) — Agency and pathways towards goals

Optimism (Scheier & Carver) — Globalized positive/negative expectancies

Emphasis on personal agency [is the] crucial difference

Matthew Gallagher's research on the unique effects of hope and optimism on wellbeing.

Matthew Gallagher's research on the unique effects of hope and optimism on wellbeing.

He also explained the difference thusly:

When you mash optimism and self-efficacy together, you get hope.

Erica Chadwick, PhD candidate from the Victoria University of Wellington, shared this definition of savoring from Fred B. Byrant and Joseph Veroff (2007):

If a savoring process is elicited when a positive emotion is experienced, then savoring could well be the mediating mechanism through which a person’s cognitive repertoire is expanded when a positive emotion is experienced. Furthermore, when people savor, they often broaden the range of feelings they can have and contexts in which these feelings can occur.

Happiness is not frivolous. Hope can’t wait.

Lopez’s Gallup studies revealed that

Hope, engagement, and wellbeing do not correlate to income.

Clearly this is not an argument against equity, but a call to foster hope without delay. That’s because, as Lopez pointed out,

“When we link ourselves to the future, we behave better today.”

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1943) is a fundamental psychology concept visually represented as a pyramid. The idea is that basic needs must be met first, and in order of importance, with self-actualization as the pinnacle—and endmost—need.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs (Source: Wikipedia)

At IPPA, Diener argued that

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be addressed at all levels, not necessarily in the order Maslow suggested.

Ed Diener's revision of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, with the needs congruent and concurrent.

Ed Diener's revision of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, with basic needs side-by-side with psychological needs.

Edward Deci, who studies self-determination theory, focused on

three basic human needs: the need to express competence, autonomy, and relatedness, which can be intrinsic, extrinsic, or emotionally motivated. Extrinsic motivations can actually undermine intrinsic motivations for engaging activities.

Edward Deci's Self-Determination Theory describes three basic psychological needs. Competence is the sense of effectance and confidence in ones's context. Autonomy is to behave in accord with abiding vaules and interests, and engage actions that would be relatively self-endorsed. Relatedness is feeling cared for, connected to, and having a sense of belonging with others.

Edward Deci's Self-Determination Theory describes three basic psychological needs. Competence is the sense of effectance and confidence in ones's context. Autonomy is to behave in accord with abiding vaules and interests, and engage actions that would be relatively self-endorsed. Relatedness is feeling cared for, connected to, and having a sense of belonging with others.

I especially appreciated Deci’s point that

Autonomy does not mean complete independence; you can be autonomously dependent

because that points to how artists can be autonomous and forge their own paths with the support and encouragement of their peers.

This sentiment was echoed by Karen Skerrett, who studies qualities of resilience in couple relationships:

Resilience is not self-sufficiency.

Deci added that

To foster greater internalization, create social contexts that allow people to feel competent, autonomous, and related. But it must fit with who people are

Which seems like a worthwhile consideration for artists developing participatory and relational projects.

Diener also identified,

“The number one predictor of enjoyment: ‘I learned new things, and I got to use my new skills today.’

In advance of a positive criticality. Since even my wholly optimistic work can inspire projections of skepticism, I was especially keen to hear Pawelski share Csikszentmihalyi’s opinion that

Positive psychology is a metaphysical orientation towards the positive. In other words, the positive is just as real as the negative.

Dan Moores illustrated this with a humorous talk called Ecstatic Poetry and the Limits of Suspicion. In it, he conveyed

we have a hermeneutics [study of interpretation] of suspicion (Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud), while lacking a hermeneutics of affirmation.  

Such a hermeneutics disserves

“The ecstatic poetic tradition [which] connects many cultures and reaches across vast stretches of time. It represents a positive affirmation of the values of happiness, human connections, festivities, and relatedness to transcendent sources of meaning. The tradition contains countless poems depicting peak states of being and positive, life-affirming emotions, such as serenity, awe, wonder, rapture, joy, gratitude, and love. Such poetry is written in praise of the goodness of life, the abundance of nature, and the intimate interrelation of the whole cosmos.”

Unsurprisingly, Moores shared a Romantic poem. This spurred a sense that contemporary art trends that revisit Romanticism and Transcendentalism (the “New Sincerity”) may find inspiration in this intersection of positive psychology and humanities, if the scientific approach isn’t too much at odds with the intuitive nature of such artmaking.

Elevation and awe. Jonathan Haidt, who studies moral political psychology, presented research

on emotion and elevation, correlating ‘up’ with altruism and admiration

Jonathan Haidt's chart showing how Elevation and Disgust are Opposites. People moving up blurs the human/animal divide, stirs unpleasant physical feelings in the gut, and motivates people to separate, close off, and reject, so is negative. People moving up blurs the human/god divide, providing a warm glow in the chest, and motivates toward merging, opening up, and copying virtuous example, and so is positive.

Jonathan Haidt's chart showing how Elevation and Disgust are Opposites. People moving up blurs the human/animal divide, stirs unpleasant physical feelings in the gut, and motivates people to separate, close off, and reject, so is negative. People moving up blurs the human/god divide, providing a warm glow in the chest, and motivates toward merging, opening up, and copying virtuous example, and so is positive.

It’s similar to the up-down cognitive metaphors in Lakoff/Johnson’s linguistics, which I diagrammed in Positive Sign #24.

Christine Wong Yap, Positive Sign #24 (Conceptual Metaphors), 2011; glitter and neon pen on gridded vellum; 8.5 × 11 in./21.5 × 28 cm

Christine Wong Yap, Positive Sign #24 (Conceptual Metaphors), 2011; glitter and neon pen on gridded vellum; 8.5 × 11 in./21.5 × 28 cm. Source: blog.sfmoma.org.

Veronika Huta, who studies awe, inspiration, and transcendence at the University of Ottowa, independently confirmed that

Elevation is correlated with, and is an indicator of, virtuous, pro-social behavior.

Connecting neo-Romantic art and studies of awe was UPenn graduate student Ann Marie Roepke’s diagram relating horror and awe, similar to the 19th century view of the sublime.

horrow/awe to need for accommodation to growth.

Slide by Anne Marie Roepke showing horrow/awe to need for accommodation to growth.

Passion. Robert Vallerand, from the University of Montreal, studies obsessive and harmonious passion.

Harmonious passion manifests as a strong desire to engage in the activity that remains under the person's control. The person can choose when to and when not to engage in the activity. It is in harmony with the person's other activities and life contexts, and it leads to positive emotional experience and to flexible persistence.

Robert Vallerand describes harmonious passion as a strong desire to engage in the activity that remains under the person's control. The person can choose when to and when not to engage in the activity. It is in harmony with the person's other activities and life contexts, and it leads to positive emotional experience and to flexible persistence.

Robert Vallerand describes obsessive passion as a strong desire to engage in the activity that eventually gets out of control. The person can't help him or herself; the passion must run its course. It creates conflict with the person's other activities, and leads to negative emotional consequences and to rigid persistence.

Vallerand describes obsessive passion as a strong desire to engage in the activity that eventually gets out of control. The person can't help him or herself; the passion must run its course. It creates conflict with the person's other activities, and leads to negative emotional consequences and to rigid persistence.

There’s a clear analogy to the arts here, where artists may develop a detrimental obsessive passion driven by extrinsic motivators, rather than a harmonious passion fueled by intrinsic motivation that leads towards increased subjective wellbeing.

Robert Vallerand shows that obsessive passion and harmonious passion can both lead to performance, but only harmonious passion will include enhanced subjective wellbeing.

Vallerand found that obsessive passion and harmonious passion can both lead to deliberate practice and performance, but only harmonious passion will include enhanced subjective wellbeing.

Since I think emerging artists can put pressure themselves to see extrinsic rewards to their progress, Vallerand’s final message seems especially relevant.

Vallerand's take home messages: Try to cultivate harmonious passion for one activity. Take the activity seriously without taking yourself seriously. Include other fun activities in your life. Understand the functionality of obsessive passion. Learn from setbacks, improve and grow within the activity.

Vallerand's take home messages: Try to cultivate harmonious passion for one activity. Take the activity seriously without taking yourself seriously. Include other fun activities in your life. Understand the functionality of obsessive passion. Learn from setbacks, improve and grow within the activity.

Information graphics. What follows is a sampling of visuals which appealed to me.

Hans Henrik Knoop's flow chart linking wellbeing, learning, and creativity, delightfully overlaid on a fountain.

Hans Henrik Knoop's flow chart linking wellbeing, learning, and creativity, delightfully overlaid on a fountain.

Neural synchrony imaged by Stephens, Silbert and Hasson, displayed in a talk by Barbara Friedrickson.

Neural synchrony imaged by Stephens, Silbert and Hasson, displayed in a talk by Barbara Friedrickson.

Sara L. Trescott presented a poster entitled Pain and Happiness: A Shifting Mathematical and Psychological Paradigm.

Sara L. Trescott presented a poster entitled Pain and Happiness: A Shifting Mathematical and Psychological Paradigm.

The most frequently presented graphic seemed to be a flow chart whose correlations are represented in nominal tenths or hundredths, rather than the visual hierarchies I would have preferred. It might well be a data-minded scientific idiom. Perhaps visual representation would be misconstrued as non-empirical shorthand.

I believe this is Lucia Helena Walendy De Freitas' poster on The Influence of Optimism on Subjective Wellbeing: A Study Based on College Students and Workers Samples.

I believe this is Lucia Helena Walendy De Freitas' poster on The Influence of Optimism on Subjective Wellbeing: A Study Based on College Students and Workers Samples.

Bee Teng Lim's Powerpoint flow chart showing the impact of amplifying savoring.

Bee Teng Lim's Powerpoint flow chart showing the impact of amplifying savoring.

These graphics, indeed, the positive psychology endeavor as a whole—recall a passage from Alain de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, in which the author responds to an engineer’s algebraic formula:

“I was struck by how impoverished ordinary language can be by contrast, requiring its user to arrange inordinate numbers of words in tottering and unstable piles in order to communicate meanings more infinitely more basic than anything related to an electrical network. I found myself wishing that the rest of mankind would follow the engineers’ example and agree on a series of symbols which could point incontrovertibly to certain elusive, vaporous and often painful psychological states—a code which might help us feel less tongue-tied and less lonely, and enable us to resolve arguments with swift and silent exchanges of equations.”

Two projects deserve special recognition for employing terrific graphic design. Both were large-scale public initiatives promoting wellbeing, thus the success of the endeavors was dependent on accessible design and copywriting.

Nic Marks discussed a project with new economics foundation promoting wellbeing in London.

Nic Marks presented Do-It-Yourself Happiness, a Well London project.

Nic Marks presented Do-It-Yourself Happiness, a Well London project.

Plus, Marks conducted a drawing exercise in which workshop attendees drew each other without looking at their papers, which enacted the five steps the public initiative promoted. I loved the exercise, as participants’ responses were immediate, hilarious, and relational.

Participant's blind portrait of another participant.

Participant's blind portrait of another participant.

Chris Peterson and Nansook Park, both from the University of Michigan, shared their ___ Makes Life Worth Living campaign, a university-wide year theme. Students wore t-shirts with the blanks filled in.

___ Makes Life Worth Living.

Conference photos. And inspired by Richard Baker’s quiet and stirring photographs in Alain de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, I clicked a few images documenting the visual vocabulary of the conference.

Post Reception Still Life

Applied Positive Psychology symposium.

Poster Session 1

Stripes

Poster Session.

Gina Haines' poster on positive psychology and phenomenology featured a foil mirror.

Gina Haines' poster on positive psychology and phenomenology featured a foil mirror.

Certificate of Attendence

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Community, News, Travelogue

Goodbye Byrdcliffe, Hello Positive Psychology!

I had a lovely time at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe residency. It was really an idyllic place to live and make art. A typical day for me:

Wake up to birdsong.
Run (including my first 10-mile).
Read and write in my sun-drenched studio—Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi’s thought-provoking Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990) and Alain de Botton’s beautiful The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (1998).
Work on drawings, collages, mixed media, or photo projects.
Eat and socialize in the large communal kitchen with the other AIRs, including some amazing, health-minded cooks. They inspire me to eat more whole grains and less meat, and cook more. You’d be inspired too, if you’d had Dan’s homemade pita bread, Tryn’s key lime pie, and Bob’s chilled carrot-coconut milk soup.

Sights around Byrdcliffe: a brilliant meadow, backlit leaves, turkey vulture, black bear.

Sights around Byrdcliffe: a brilliant meadow, backlit leaves, turkey vulture, black bear.

Chipmunks everywhere.

Chipmunks everywhere.

Julie, Mary, Robert, Tryn, and Dan hanging out in the kitchen after Mexican food night.

Julie, Mary, Robert, Tryn, and Dan hanging out in the kitchen after Mexican food night.

Outdoor sculpture show at White Pines. Really loved the architecture.

Outdoor sculpture show at White Pines. Really loved the architecture.

View from White Pines.

View from White Pines.

In addition I took a Machine Woodworking class with Paul Henderson, down at the Byrdcliffe Barn. Cutting dovetails, mortises, and tenons with Paul, we’d chat about tools and music (he’s a trumpeter in a funk band!). It was tons of fun, and it reminds me how nice it is to have access to a really nice woodshop….

Paul and Jessica in the woodshop. That day's lesson: using routers and jigs to machine dovetails.

Paul and Jessica in the woodshop. That day's lesson: using routers and jigs to machine dovetails.

The residency was very productive and re-energizing. I am so grateful I got to be part of the Byrdcliffe story, enjoy the amazing land, and meet the other AIRs and the hardworking Byrdcliffe staff. Thanks Byrdcliffe!

Today
Artist in Residence Open Studios
Byrdcliffe Art Colony, Woodstock, NY
3:30–7pm

Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild Artist in Residence Open Studios, July 23rd. full text: http://www.woodstockguild.org/artist-in-residence

My 360º studio photo-collage was featured on Woodstock Byrdcliffe’s email announcement! The super smart and interesting Julie Perini will be screening her experimental film and video work in my studio. Photos of my projects are in the Villeta, however, I won’t be there because I’ll be at…

July 23–26
The International Positive Psychology Association’s Second World Congress of Positive Psychology

Philadelphia, PA

Among the speakers are Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, whose books inform my work, including, most directly, the Positive Signs series (a selection is now on view at Steven Wolf Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA). I’m really looking forward to hearing these authors speak, delving deeper into positive psychology, and thinking through how it relates to artmaking and art viewing experiences.

I am able to attend this gathering with the support of a Travel and Study Grant from the Jerome Foundation. I am so grateful to them for the support. Thank you Jerome Foundation!

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