Create, share, and learn #el30 with Amy Burvall

This hour was my first in depth experience with Amy Burvall, and with aspects of her backstory. It was Stephen Downes 8th topic, Experience, in his #el30 course, broadcast on 16 December. (I’m catching up) I was aware of Amy’s art, but without the personal, without the moments of detail, I had never looked deeper. As she says – we don’t just want stuff to consume. One of the biggest things I took away from this video was that it took me beyond the externality of Amy’s art and gave me a reason to engage.

At the beginning of the conversation Stephen asks Amy about a few of her core tenants. They talk about her premise of creating something every day. Amy says, ‘It doesn’t have to be big, but do something creative every day.’ Stephen mentions that he does these 1 para posts, and none of them is a work of art, but you develop the sills… It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking something is nothing, when actually something is something. As a musician I know that the value someone else ascribes to my creation is up to them, personal, and very often completely unknown to me. Creation has value, and just because it is not immediately quantifiable or visible does not belittle or negate that value.

‘Beauty in the broken, marvellous in the mundane, wow in the now’

Amy uses an example of having a phone and seeing rust on a fence and using the camera to capture that aesthetically pleasing moment right now, the wow in the now, and then maybe writing a poem about it later.

I loved that.

She goes on to say that simplicity as an effective tool. Amy devised an activity where adults use a single shape as a vehicle to create or communicate an idea.

Creativity as seeing relationships and juxtapositions that other people don’t see. (19.40)

On curation: As you create things, if you don’t archive them, those are your dots to create things for later (32.35) Amy said a notebook, but it could be a blog, and it makes me think of metadata, categories and tags.

I like that Amy hates consensus. That made me smile. (me too) She explains that life (for her) is about living in the grey. Backstories, and facts, yes, but there is lots of ‘grey’ as well that makes all the difference. I was reminded me of a question asked on Twitter by Maha Bali yesterday:

Fellow reflective academics. Do u sometimes feel ur paralyzed from action because you see complexity more than you used to, and feel humility about your limitations…such that u feel the need to deliberate longer before you take action? I’m talking about big big not daily action

Amy’s conversation was recorded last month, and I do not know the full context of Maha’s query, but in the discussion between Amy and Stephen about facts and debates, Amy suggested we ask the questions: What if? To what extent? and How can we explore different perspectives and evaluate them?

Stephen interestingly said that one motivation for participating in creating art is (I think he’s speaking for himself) is to create the ability to be able to see these multiple perspectives. That had never dawned on me. Your perspective is so valuable, and without sharing, I wouldn’t have known. I never considered this. For me, my perspective is as the storyteller, and art is my vehicle to show and share where the capacity of words ends or is insufficient, seeing in other lights.

Amy said the hugely valuable: ‘When you see better work, you cannot let yourself be jealous, the only thing you can do is make more work. The more you make the better you will get.’

So true. What a genuinely wonderful perspective. Thank you, Amy.

I very much appreciated the 15 minutes from 45min to 1hr of the talk about life, living, and a positive outlook. Yes. And yes, there is something about melancholy that allows people to make and create, but it’s important to climb out of that and see the wonder in creation (as a verb) and life too.

The conversation ended with a focus on living for today. Focusing on creating, sharing, and that’s exactly what Amy and Stephen did. That you for spreading a little sunshine today. Mahalo.



My other #el30 posts are here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.