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PROJECT TALK + LISTEN is my personal practice and experiment to talk openly and listen empathetically.

It’s a chance to work with two experiences:

(1) Talking with genuineness and transparency.
(2) Listening from the other’s point of view without judgment, evaluation, approval or disapproval of the statements.

It's not a discussion. Discussions are worthy and important, but this isn't that. Rather, this practice is an opportunity to become aware of personal propensities (habits and patterns) around expressing and listening.

PROJECT TALK + LISTEN is also an invitation to join me in this practice.

(I wrote about why I created this project HERE.)

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Invite someone to have a Talk Listen experience.

Choose a topic from the list. (The topics are artworks.)

Look at the image or film.

Do this:

1. Describe what you see or hear.

Though it sounds absurdly simple, describing is hard to do. This quote helps me understand how to describe and why it's challenging and important:

"Describing is a process of overall observing, particular noticing, and telling what you see or otherwise sense...To describe is to name it and its characteristics and qualities...People seem to believe that if what they are asked to describe is in front of you and them, then they think there is no need to say what they see because they wrongly assume that we all see the same things in the same way. We do not. We look at things differently, we notice different aspects, and we use different words when we tell about what we see." - Terry Barrett, CRITS (in contract, Bloomsbury Publishing, London)

Poet and writing teacher Marie Howe asks her students to do this every day for weeks :

“Just tell me what you saw this morning in two lines…I saw a water glass on a brown table and the light came through it in three places. No metaphor… We want to say, ‘It was like this; it was like that.’” Howe says no, no, no. No abstractions. And then she ponders why it’s hard. ‘We want to look away. To be with a glass of water, to be with anything—and then [the students] say, ‘Well, there’s nothing important enough.’ And that’s the whole thing. The point.” - Marie Howe, On Being interview, The Power of Words.

Because to describe means that, “You have to resist metaphor and actually endure the thing itself, which hurts us for some reason.” (Howe)

We have to be present. With the topic and with our Talk + Listen partner.

2. Expand each of these two sentences into paragraphs.

When I see or hear _____, I think _____ …

When I see or hear _____, I feel _____ …

3. Later, reflect on your experience and, if you choose, share your insights with your partner, and if you wish, on Facebook.

That's it! You're ready to choose a topic and begin.

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Click the hot-linked word "HERE" in the topic you've chosen to begin.

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In Tirely is a photograph made by William Wegman, an American artist best known for his photographs of dogs, primarily his own Weimaraners in various costumes and poses. Choose this topic HERE.

We see things differently
In Tirely is a photograph made by William Wegman, an American artist best known for his photographs of dogs, primarily his own Weimaraners in various costumes and poses. Choose this topic HERE.

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This is an image of Ladder for Booker T. Washington, 1996 made by Martin Puryear. The ladder is installed in a gallery of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Texas, USA). It's made of wood (maple and ash). The height is 432 inches. The ladder at its base is 22-3/4 inches and narrows to 1-1/4 at top x 3 inches. Though the ladder appears to rest on the ground in this photograph, it is suspended 3 feet above the floor and rises up. Choose this topic HERE.

Booker T. Washington's Ladder
This is an image of Ladder for Booker T. Washington, 1996 made by Martin Puryear. It is installed in a gallery of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Texas, USA). It's made of wood (maple and ash). The height is 432 inches. The ladder at its base is 22-3/4 inches and narrows to 1-1/4 at top x 3 inches. Though the ladder appears to rest on the ground in this photograph, it is suspended 3 feet above the floor and rises up. Choose this topic HERE.

the Dog Urine series-still95

Artist Huang He made an installation video for Canton Gallery. Guangzhou, China.  This is her still #95, 2016. Choose this topic HERE.

The words we say
Artist Huang He made an installation video titled for Canton Gallery. Guangzhou, China.  This is her still #95, 2016. Choose this topic HERE.

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This is a photograph taken by Stacy Kranitz while traveling through Appalachia, a rural and mountainous region rich with coal and historically significant for its rural poverty. Choose this topic HERE.

A photograph from the travels of Stacy Kranitz
This is a photograph taken by Stacy Kranitz while traveling through Appalachia, a rural and mountainous region rich with coal and historically significant for its rural poverty. Choose this topic HERE.

No+Glory+in+Regret

No Glory in Regret is a photo montage from artist Tom Chambers "Still Beating Series." Chambers was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA, in 1948, and lives in Richmond, Virginia. He makes fictional narrative art to tell visual stories. He intends for the stories to transcend cultures and to be accessible to all. Choose this topic HERE.

No glory in regret
No Glory in Regret is a photo montage from artist Tom Chambers "Still Beating Series." Chambers was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA, in 1948, and lives in Richmond, Virginia. He makes fictional narrative art to tell visual stories. He intends for the stories to transcend cultures and to be accessible to all. Choose this topic HERE.

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Cardinal Albrecht is represented as St. Jerome in this painting by Lucas Cranach. As a commissioned work, Albrecht chose to be painted and remembered as St. Jerome. The painting is part of the permanent collection of The Ringling Museum of Art. Choose this topic HERE.

Cardinal Albrecht as St. Jerome
Cardinal Albrecht is represented as St. Jerome in this painting by Lucas Cranach. As a commissioned work, Albrecht chose to be painted and remembered as St. Jerome. The painting is in the permanent collection of The Ringling Museum of Art. Choose this topic HERE.

beth bird 2

The Day I Became A Bird is an illustrated story by Ingrid Chabbert (Author), Raúl Nieto Guridi (Illustrator) about relationships and feelings. Choose this topic HERE.

The day I became a bird
The Day I Became A Bird is an illustrated story written by Ingrid Chabbert (Author), Raúl Nieto Guridi (Illustrator) about relationships and feelings. Choose this topic HERE.

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Leonard is on death row. In this 4-minute video from Yann Arthus-Bertrand's film HUMAN, Leonard talks about his experience of love. Choose this topic HERE.

Love from an unlikely place
Leonard is on death row. In this 4-minute video from Yann Arthus-Bertrand's film HUMAN, Leonard talks about his experience of love. Choose this topic HERE.

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This painting titled "A Provisional House for Pandora" was made by Charlotte Schulz in 1995 - 1996. The size is 59 inches x 65 inches, large enough to step into. Choose this topic HERE.

Looking into Pandora's home
 isThis painting titled "A Provisional House for Pandora" was made by Charlotte Schulz in 1995 - 1996. The size is 59 inches x 65 inches, large enough to step into. Choose this topic HERE.

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To download and print a copy of the directions to have with you when you participate in this practice, click HERE.

Terry Barrett inspired the Talk + Listen activities. A delight of my life is when I get to look at contemporary art with him and in community with others. Terry often invites describing and then a use of the prompts "when I see ____, I think ___," and "when I see ___, I feel ___" to open the door to seeing and insight.

About the artworks - Look for links to learn more about these incredibly creative people and how they use their talent. All artworks posted in Project Talk + Listen are the property of their respective copyright owners. I contacted artists for direct permission and to let them know how much I appreciate and admire their work.