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Friday, April 4, 2008

The Art of Collaboration

Community Working Together

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What do a family, a symphony and a quilting bee have in common? Collaboration! Each of these groups requires alliance, communication and connection in order to achieve its common, goal.

Express Yourself Milwaukee, Inc. is an organization founded on the collaboration of artists and the art of collaboration. Truly, collaboration is an art. Partnership is not easy. It is a union, which requires release of individual egos and of self-promotion in order to succeed. So, the process is as, or possibly more important than the material outcome.

In definition, collaboration is two or more people coming together for a common goal by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. However, it also contains, by its nature a set of richer aspirations. It goes beyond "result orientation" to a deeper understanding of our self in community and creation. There is a spirit or an aura that develops in working with others that is not possible for us to gain working on our own.

The opposites of collaboration—antagonism, discord and nonalignment, are certainly present when we do our work with other artists, both student and teacher. We all encounter these opposing forces often, in whatever we do. But these forces present a wonderful opportunity for growth. The challenge of setting aside one's personal needs and agenda is difficult, to be sure. There is no way to avoid the tangles of our humanness when we collaborate. However, if we gently and forgivingly remind ourselves that we are working for a common, and bigger goal together, new questions arise from our difficulties.... 

"What if?"

"Can we?"

"What do you think?" ... which may lead to answers like "LETS TRY!"

Although the focus of our collaboration may be a piece of music, a dance or material art, the work we do together results in so much more.__215_copy.jpg

Lessons in listening, sharing and patience are values that extend far beyond the time our project is complete. It is so important in the work we do, to remember that whatever our assessment is of the piece of art created, we have also planted the seeds for creation of community and understanding. We have, for a time, looked beyond me to us and hopefully learned something too, about the art of building bridges.

Learn more about the collaborating partners of Express Yourself Milwaukee, Inc.