Bringing art into engagement
Introducing and interviewing Jade Herriman
I have known Jade for over 10 years. She’s smart, creative and soulful. Her journey has been fascinating, and if you are keen to discover how art and democracy go together then read on.
We co-wrote a paper together with some Canadian academics/colleagues a few years ago (You can download here). What do you think was useful or significant about that research?
That research looked at the way that public participation processes involve individuals to participate as citizens, compared with inviting people to participate as representatives of stakeholder groups. I think the research was useful in highlighting quite carefully and in some detail, the different design choices open to public participation professionals in relation to who is at the decision-making table, and in what capacity.
In more recent years you have been exploring the world of art and providing art therapy services. What
I have realised that I love working with groups, way more than working one on one with individual clients. I enjoy the diversity of outlooks and feel so moved when I see the flow of insights, kindness and connections between participants.
I have learnt that listening with an open heart and mind is extremely valuable and a lot harder to offer than it sounds. I have learnt at a deeper level that there is so much of the human experience that is shared: no matter our situation, status, financial situation, or physical or mental health challenges we all long to connect, to be understood, to be treated respectfully, to experience humour and compassion.
I have also learnt that my own experiences with anxiety can actually be an asset in certain work – for example I love creating safe and welcoming spaces and experiences that people can relax into, and I probably pay a lot more attention to the details of making a space comfortable and a process clear for that reason.
So now you are looking to integrate your love of art, and art therapy, with your long-held interest in renewing democratic processes. How do you think they might work together?
I am quite excited by the not-knowing of how exactly that might unfold! In the
In the context of public participation in decision making I think that creative methods are a great way to get beyond our day to day scripts and dip into the deeper and more complex set of views that we each hold. They are also great tools for inviting in the personal and emotional dimensions to a dialogue, and for helping us spark new ideas and innovation.
What kind of opportunities are you now looking for?
I would like to continue to bring creative methods not just to the process of healing and personal growth, but also to leadership and complex decision making. Any work where I get to help people have honest conversations and make it safe to bring all of who they are to the table
Thanks Jade. I’m looking forward to exploring some opportunities with you, and I look forward to you throwing me some questions for Part 2 of this blog.
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