A big part of mentorship happens in casual conversation, offhand remarks, about what your mentor is up to or interested in. The mentee must fine-tune her listening skills to benefit. She must be curious and open to checking out something new without immediate pay-off. The seasoned mentor knows to push as many potential experiences to her mentee as possible, without making all opportunities compulsory or expecting them to stick. When Suzanne got an e-blast from AAM about a storytelling workshop, she forwarded it to me. She didn’t “assign” it, or even suggest that I attend. She just asked if I had heard about it and said she was looking forward.
I recently had the great fortune of coaching sessions with Wendy Luke, an expert on mentorship (among other professional/organizational relationships and issues). Reaching out to a mentor outside of my organization was Wendy’s idea–hence this blog. She also talked with me about ArtTable and suggested pointedly that I get involved. So when the Phillips’s Center for the Study of Modern Art hosted an ArtTable-organized panel on the 5×5 public art project, I made sure to be there.
I would not normally have attended–the thrust of the discussion was curatorial and, while I’m fascinated personally, the immediate, communications-driven, tactical necessity to carve out the time was not there. I’m glad that I did anyway. Hearing about projects like Natalie Jeremijenko’s Butterfly Bridge and Wilmer Wilson IV’s Henry “Box” Brown: FOREVER was inspiring and made me a more engaged participant in the DC arts community. I had a chance to ask questions about the logistical challenges of placing public art in DC, which is directly applicable to a strategic wayfinding project in my professional pipeline. I also got to say hi to Wendy, and ask her about her upcoming weekend plans, which happened to include TEDxWDC.
Notices for the upcoming TEDx talks had blipped on my radar, but I’d been ambivalent about committing a Saturday. It wasn’t until a day or two after my run-in with Wendy that I felt compelled to register. Again, I’m glad I did. In addition to hearing from 26 colleagues about DC’s creative economy, I made my first visit to THEARC, saw Habitat for Artists building their project for 5×5, and spent time in Anacostia for the second time in my life (an embarrassing admission for a nearly-DC-native).
Curiosity and open-minded participation has a ripple effect. Because of soft suggestions from mentors and colleagues, I hope to also attend:
- Lumen 8 Anacostia (April 14, noon-midnight)
- 1st MAN podcast live taping with Martha Rosler @ BMA (May 2, 7:30 pm)
- LUCE Unplugged Community Showcase @ SAAM (May 11, 6 pm)
- Media Match at the National Press Club (June 7, 6:30 pm)
What am I missing? I would love to hear what workshops, conferences, and events you’re excited about, and–if reasonably accessible from DC by car or train–I’ll attend.