Following their intuition
Nanâskomew (thanks) George Littlechild!
What a treat for the IDEA School second year class when, Alberta born Cree artist, George Littlechild came to spend the morning with us. This was part 2 (read part 1) of a wonderful collaboration with aboriginal students and faculty at Capilano University. Many thanks to David Kirk, one of Cap's first nations advisors, for suggesting and organising the workshop with our students. Until George walked into the room, we had no idea what the workshop might entail. We all have apprehensions about appropriating first nations art and culture, as our previous first nations class project revealed, so we were a tad nervous.
George came in wearing a large circular pendant around his neck. The pendant, exquisitely beaded by Rose Heine of the Anishnabe nation in Quebec, was a white buffalo on a medecine wheel. George treasures the pedant, which he feels brings him both comfort and protection. When he received it, he sensed intuitively that the symbol captured his own psychic energy. He asked the class to use their intuition to create an image, or symbol that represented them: something that would touch their souls and bring them comfort.
"Weirded out", or paralysed might be good descriptions of the students' first reaction. After more conversation about what colours bring us comfort, what shapes we identify most with, what objects, or creatures bring us joy..., the students began sketching.
George spent his time going from student to student discussing the significance of their symbols and why they resonated. 2 hours later the class had produced wonderful and insightful representations of what feels "like home" to them. For some it was a dog, a bird, or an imaginary shelter. For others an abstract symbol, geometric form, or landscape. It was an inspiring, relaxed and insightful morning.
Back in our regular class, we gathered in a circle and each student gave an example of a time where they trusted their intuition and it made them feel good. Some stories were school related, some not, some were funny, others sad. Reflecting on our time with George and our shared experiences of the power of intuition, we realised that as humans we begin life acting almost entirely from intuition and behaviour patterns carried in our DNA. As we grow and begin to conform to the world around us, we begin to trust our intuition less and less, allowing family, friends, society and convention provide us with direction.
As communication design students the class has spent 2 years learning about the rules and conventions that direct our industry; looking at examples of what "good design" looks like. We are teaching them "how it's done in the real world" so they can go out and succeed. What a pity that perhaps in doing so we risk creating an internal conflict that can stifle their ability to follow their instincts and embrace their uniqueness: the very thing that will make them stand out and be spectacular. As with all things in life, it is about balance. Go forth and trust your gut young designers!
P.S. Do white buffalo really exist? Yes they do. One out of every 10 million buffalo born are white.