Monday, March 5, 2012

Saying Goodbye to '25'

As we say goodbye to our 25th year, a parting note from former Executive Director, Steve Gross…

I worked at The Field from 1987 until 2006, when I left to begin my practice as a psychologist. I now work at a maximum security prison for women, and the point I’d like to make is that working with independent artists and working with convicted felons isn’t all that different.

Let me explain. Fieldwork, The Field’s oldest and core program, is a place where artists show their work as it’s developing. There are no costumes, no polish, no fourth wall – just the work itself, and after it’s shown, the artist sits down with his or her peers and gets feedback about how the work has come across. What I learned through participating in Fieldwork all those years is how to look at work, how to make sense of what is coming across, and find a way to talk about it so that the artist can learn about the work, find out how it impacts and audience.
At the prison, my job is much the same. The inmates’ “work” in this case is their behaviors, and my job is to take in what they are doing – how they behave – and make sense of it, and give them feedback, all in an effort to help them change, help them grow, so that when they’re released, and most of them will be released, they’re in better shape than they were before.

So you can see that the skill of being able to watch, synthesize, and give feedback is one that has served me incredibly well. I’ve had a lot of training…four years of graduate school, three externships, an internship and a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale (yes, I will even name drop in service of The Field!), and yet the best training I’ve ever gotten is at The Field. It’s a kind of training that all The Field’s artists and staff receive, and my experience is that it prepares us not only to make better art, but to be better people.

Here’s to 25 more years of making better art and becoming better people!

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