Creative Practice for Renewal

I am about to begin my 12th year of teaching “creative practice” with Arts Corps. When beginning a new year, I enter a period of reflection that begins with looking back on my journey as a student, revisiting the importance of teaching and the relationship that teachers delicately hold with their students, and the significant role of the artist in the educational system. I was child of a military family, sometimes attending three different schools in one year. I discovered from my nomadic education the necessity and crucial role of creative learning led by ‘creative’s.’ I remember learning the most under their tutelage. They kept me engaged and curious about education and this had a powerful affect on my life’s choices and current path. I remember the teachers who inspired curiosity, who questioned the norm and encouraged me to do the same. They pushed me out of my comfort zones to see and to seek a better understanding of what life holds from many perspectives and encouraged me to discover solutions that would benefit the whole.

My work with Arts Corps as a teaching artist and former faculty development manager has pushed me in the same way. Being involved in the development and implementation of the Creative Habits of Mind framework—Imagining Possibilities, Courage and Risk taking, Critical Thinking, Persistence and Discipline, Reflection—I have come to understand on a deep level how the habits have impacted the way I teach and how I live my life. I have learned that creativity is best supported through practice and the habits that are formed through this practice. During the tenure of Arts Corps founder Lisa Fitzhugh, and through the diligent work with the Arts Corps’ team, I developed both an intellectual and an experiential understanding of why these habits are necessary for all of us. These habits are not just for students learning about art or for arts organizations developing effective assessment and evaluation strategies to prove their reason for being. These creative habits are necessary for everyone. With daily practice these habits become tools for living a meaningful life and a practice that supports authentic being!

Since moving on from my position as faculty development manager at Arts Corps, I have continued on with this work, exploring the meaning and application of creative practice with Creative Ground, a new partnership formed with Lisa Fitzhugh and Sarah Bicknell. Creative Ground works with individuals and organizations, using creative practice as a tool to for change and transformation to support collaboration through authentic leadership. Creative Ground has added three more habits to Arts Corps’ five, which include, Present moment awareness, Observation of the Natural World/ Technology Hiatus and Tolerance for ambiguity/Trust. We have found when an individual intentionally integrates creative practice into their daily lives, they are better equipped to effectively address the accelerated pace of change and chaos we are experiencing in the world.

If you are interested in finding out more about creative practice, I invite you to come attend Creative Ground’s, Creative Practice for Renewal and Authentic Leadership for Non-Profit Organizations, happening on October 21st and 22nd at the Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island. You will come away revitalized, renewed and fortified with creative tools that you can implement on your return.

For more information you can contact me at or go to


Lauren Atkinson
Teaching Artist

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An Exquiste Corpse

Teaching Artists, Board and Staff Inspirational Reflections from the
September 25th -26th , 2010 Retreat…

Sweet community, beautiful insights.

It is always good to see teaching artists,
board members and staff getting together,
having fun, working together in one place at one event.

Re-energized by the beloved community

Big ideas and love-
the best barn dance ever
fuel for the fire
comfort in the family of art.

My heart needs permission to love itself.

Because of the part that feeds the soul,
the whole feeds the arts.

Accountability needs community
community needs possibility
creativity is and art of life,
–this is Arts Corps

I am inspired to continue my betterment as a teacher,
person, and human being because of the
encouragement and nourishment of my arts corps family.

Reminder of why I am here and why I love it so much.

Life is not significant
unless you impact
peoples live’s.

Reaffirmation and commitment to personal
and collective creativity.

not just to love beauty
but to be Beauty.
My hearts beauty was excavated and set free.

Reflection and communion bring dazzling energy
and inject intention so we will shine brighter.

It is greatly renewing to share the presence
of this bright and spirited group of insightful visionaries.

Passion and excellence braided
into a satisfying
warm loaf of bread…
food for the soul,
loaves for the masses.

I found beauty in the fear.

blue sky,
excellent sharing,
full moonlight,
last warm summer night,
soft, misty morning rain,
in community reflection.

The stars retained their brightness as the moon rose through the trees
and the wisps of clouds encircled our intentions.

Close and closer,
feeling the heat of breath
in the words we use
to try to feel ourselves to
each other.

Lucid and magical exchange of experiences.

I have found a professional family—-
we are building more homes for our growing family;
my hammer is mighty.
It’s good to be inside and apart of this circle.
my heart is full of love and fire.
my brain is full of light and stars.
I am great. I am full.
Thank you.

If I could be,
I would chose to be me
In a world that is free,
And encourages creativity.
Arts Corps—We BE!

Let’s just live here!!!

Exquisite corpse is a collection of words or images from many collaborators that are put together into one piece.

All photos (c) Susie Fitzhugh.

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