In 1980, in the midst of a creative surge (I was painting and illustrating at the time), I grew enamored of a communications and therapeutic intervention model called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).  Long story short, I became a licensed practitioner of NLP along with 58 psychotherapists.  The training guided attendees toward a view of the world characterized by an intense focus on process rather than content.  As an artist, I found this deeply refreshing, even nourishing.  NLP was a sense-based discipline providing me some respite from the world of ideas.  Relieved of trying to understand why things were the way they were, the focus was on the how.

Most of my life, I had been haunted by a certainty that I offered so little of value that I could not achieve esteem in the opinions of people I respected.  This insecurity has been accompanied by a conviction that I was special beyond the comprehension of my peers, a specialness that may eventually be revealed.  Blessedly, this exaggerated polarity now only occasionally surges through my system.  It was my way of feeling for many years.

Seeking licensing as a practitioner of NLP with 58 practicing therapists, I shifted to insecurity overdrive.  I was a BA in a series of workshops for MAs and Ph. Ds.  I read literally everything published on the subject; several of the books I read several times.  I listened repeatedly to the audio tapes that were available, letting the routines drift deeply into my psyche.  I explored related fields, such as hypnotherapy, particularly the work of Milton H. Erickson, and rediscovered the work of Gregory Bateson.  I immersed.  At the final evaluation, after conducting a therapeutic intervention, I received an ovation for the intervention I performed.

A combination of insecurity and a fascination with the subject motivated me to learn about patterns in communication.  I also absorbed, by understanding those patterns, how change can be encouraged.

I’d passed the test.  I was trained to perform evaluations and interventions based on process observations.  I was a specialist in communication pattern detection, interpretation and intervention.

I returned to illustration.

My paintings and illustrations began to reflect an attraction to ways that interconnection can be represented visually.  I played with a number of motifs:  maps, intersecting lines, intricate grille work as I searched for ways to represent connection.

Twenty years later I was using erector set-type magnetic children’s toys to model the kinds of communications social structures that would best encourage social change.  These sculptures/schematics carried visual themes from two-dimensional paintings into a third dimension.

Now, ten years after the construction of the intricately geometric sculptures, I am engaged in manifesting these ideas through web applications designed to enhance communication and cooperation between Left/progressive organizations while politically empowering the members of those groups with the resources available on the sites.

The principles and techniques that a therapist uses to intervene in the internal life of a person seeking change and the ideas, strategies and tactics used by an activist interceding in the operations of society have more than a little bit in common.  Attention to process, particularly attention to the processes of communications between constituent parts, goes a long way toward encouraging movement where movement may have been difficult in the past.


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