Make Art, Make the World a Better Place!



Artistic Frames of Reference

Explicit ideas: a literal thing, concept, person, place, or time

Representations: seeing more than literal meaning

Points of view: characteristics of the creator or audience (I.e., age, culture, gender, period in history, and education)


Imagine if variable frames of reference could be applied to religiosity. Maybe humans could better co-exist? You could have your opinions and I could have mine. You could have an explicit frame of reference and mine could be representational. You could see Christmas as the birth of Christ and I could see it as a day off from work to exchange presents and share food with loved ones. And we can hug out our right to our point of view. Without forcing singular realities, flexible frames of reference make us a less judgmental world from the inside out.

Expand Your Artistic Awareness


Play around with artistic awareness through different types of thinking. At times, allow bananas to be bananas. As a therapist, I often hear my husband say, “just let a text be a text, don’t read words between the words.” Same thing. There is health in simply seeing bananas.

Practice awareness of explicit ideas.

Practice now: just see bananas.

Of course, the brilliance of art is that bananas may also be so much more. In this way, even side-by-side bananas can be sexy, no matter the shade or degree of spotting. For the writer or poet, onion expressions may embody layers beneath the surface or inspiration for bitter tears.

Practice representational awareness.

Practice now: what does an onion mean to you?

Practice now: create a story about the side-by-side bananas.

For the farmer, a relationship to an onion may be quite different than the one that top chefs hold. Point of view affects our experience with anything, including art. Both people may be working with the same onion but very different internal processes. And for those who have never seen an onion, what on earth could it possibly be? (Boobies? my then breastfeeding daughter once said of my mother’s skilled onion still-life)

Practice alternate points of view, expanding awareness.

Practice now: challenge yourself to imagine and see through different points of view, completing the phrases below.

This is not an onion, it’s a  ______________

These are not bananas, this is a picture about ________________

Tool #4: Celebrate True Love.

Share the coworker love…

She walked into the office the same time I did, we’re both – usually – running behind. A chorus around us said they’re as different as any coworkers can be.

They said they seem so different, they will hate each other.

Together, we found true love.

Eight years later, I celebrate the longest standing (office) marriage of my life. Boisterous to my stoic, dark skinned to my blotchy light, and takings turns – optimistic to the other’s dread, we have sat beside one another to produce a product of care; social workers continuing the good fight.

I woke this morning, as I am on the brink of changing jobs. I thought about my coworker true love. I see her heart of gold, it is the stuff that transforms people. I see her determination, and in difficult times, it is the stuff that keeps going.

I see her beauty. And I am inspired. She will forever be a muse, for me, of genuine goodness. Her laugh lingers long after I leave her, her heart radiates so boldly I want to do the right thing too…even if it means, I cannot sit beside her right now. Though she can’t always be right there with me, going forward, the image of our love is in my heart.

Take a moment, in my coworker’s honor, to envision a person who has inspired you.

Take that energy of love, or pretend to wear their shoes for a moment, and allow this inspiration to spark a work of beauty for the world today.

Frame yourself, frame your relationships, just as things are, for that is beautiful.