Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Redford Center

I am involved in this amazing new organization, "The Redford Center" Robert Redford and his family have created this non profit to inspire positive social and environmental change through the arts, education and civil discourse. Besides doing great work in areas of the environment and social justice, what I feel is particularly potent about the Center is their group process they utilize to create dialogue and change. Along with all relevant experts in the particular field of concern, Robert Redford's long standing personal vision of also having artists involved in problem solving and discussions adds an out of the box thinking that can help catalyze solutions.
Last week was one of their first public events in San Francisco. It was an evening of discussion led by Redford Center's Director, Lee Bycel and Robert Redford. In additon, during the evening they honored two local actviists: Avery Hale, a young woman, 16 yrs. old who has started a organization" Step by Step" that delivers shoes to poor villages in South America. Also honored was Victor Diaz a principal at Berkeley Technology Academy, a high school continuation school.
A particularly moving moment for me was when Robert Redford was describing early influences in his life. He told how he was a terrible student, and that he was rarely interested in what was being taught. He was constantly doodling in class. The teacher, in an attempt to shame him, forced him to stand in front of his 6th grade class and explain why his drawing was so much more interesting than what she was teaching. Totally humiliated, but lacking any recourse, he began to describe his drawing to the class. His drawing showed B-52 war airplanes shooting at cowboys who were driving a group of Indians off a cliff to their demise. To his surprise, the class actually found it very interesting too and were riveted. In a moment that could of gone either way, the teacher, recognizing the magic that was occurring in her now attentive classroom allowed him to continue. Putting her ego aside, she offered Robert a 15 minute time slot every Wednesday, at the end of class, so he could come up and describe and narrate his stories. As we all know, this is the work he still does today. Storytelling.
I was honored to be able to design the awards that were handed out that evening as well as having my work projected as the backdrop to this event. painting shown "May" 70" x 90" Oil and Beeswax on Panel.