Art makes the impossible possible.
Salem artist Laura Mack bridged the gap between Trump and Hillary supporters even if it was just on canvas. She started with photographs of screaming protesters and then redrew the faces in charcoal, softening their eyes, closing their mouths.
“I tried to turn these angry protesters into thoughtful listeners,” she said, “bringing us to the table to listen to each other.”
She hopes people see that it’s possible to find common ground. Mack doesn’t have much time for her art these days as a mother of two, college instructor and art advocate, but she does spend a lot of time thinking about the creative process.
The ability to see things and solve problems in a new way is not just for artists, she said. It’s a vital skill for everyone.
That thought inspired her to create a class at Chemeketa Community College that fosters the creative process. Most of her students don’t consider themselves artists.
Art is one of the tools she uses to teach, but it’s not the only one. Students also do improv, create lists, perform, make books and invent. One time she asked students to pick two objects, such as a bench and a conveyer belt, and think up 50 inventions.
“After about nine,” she said, “things start to get interesting.”
“We’ve been trained to get one right answer,” she said, “instead of sticking with it and coming up with a better idea.”
That process of being inspired, asking questions, taking time, incubating ideas and refining leads to better ideas whether that’s in computer science or psychology, she said.
But many college students struggle at first because they haven’t thought this way since elementary school, she said. As an art advocate, Mack develops programs that will keep the creative process in schools through college.
“Creativity needs to be maintained from a very young age,” she said. “We don’t want to wait until college.”
When she’s not teaching or creating, Mack hangs out with her two boys, husband and their new puppy Vader as in Darth Vader.
“It’s an ironic name because he’s incredibly sweet,” she said.
She also volunteers at her son’s school, offering art classes. That experience inspired another program meant to foster the creative spark. Hear more about Mack’s vision to keep that spark going in Salem-Keizer schools and in classrooms around the world at TEDxSalem V.
Get your tickets for TEDxSalem V
TEDxSalem V is an all-day event featuring talks, performances, refreshments, lunch and a swag bag Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Salem Convention Center. Purchase tickets here. Follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date news from our community, and check our website regularly for new information. You can also reach us at email@example.com.