Alice MacGillivray

Supporting Leadership & Knowledge Work Across Boundaries

Archive for June, 2009

From One Idea to Many Experiences

A friend of my daughter’s–Mimi Law–had an idea: that a group of women metal workers assemble a show. The proposal was accepted by The Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver; the exhibition is runs from a few days ago to July 4, 2009..

One of the women said that she hoped this exhibit would provided each artist with the opportunity to do her best work yet. I think that is the case for my daughter, Sage.

Sage working on bird cage sculpture

Sage working on bird cage sculpture

The exhibit is called “Rare Birds” because of metalwork being unconventional for women, and Sage intended to avoid a bird theme, but when the idea came to her for this piece, she could not resist it.

Sage's sculpture: top view

Sage's sculpture: top view

Sage's sculpture: side view

Sage's sculpture: side view

The media release states the exhibit will “showcase works of 11 women and celebrate the evolution of women’s roles and status.” It includes over 30 pieces, with this sculpture and a coffee table as Sage’s contributions. Watching from a distance, this complex

project has had many twists and turns for my daughter and other artists. One stopped to buy a coffee on the way to the gallery and had to chase a thief running down the road with one of her sculptures. Sage struggled with how to effectively bring the group together in some aspects of preparation. She met new people, learned some fundraising skills, and has been one of several women involved with radio, TV and media coverage. Collectively, I am sure it has been an eclectic, sometimes surprising, and very positive experience for the women.



A comment in twitter by Luis Suarez got me thinking about the fact that some communities of practice spend a lot of time in dialogue or debate about definitions. Sometimes I value the deep dives in which theoreticians work to solidify a discipline. At other times I am irritated by the balance between these discussions and a focus on practice.

After reflecting on why people may choose to focus on definitions, I replied to Luis (@elsua): “You’ve got me thinking about how some people use definitions to help with common context, and some for single Truths.”

He responded “That’s a brilliant point, Alice; funny enough I used to be part of the 2nd group & through the years progressed into 1st group.” That transition has fascinated me for a long time. How do people shift ways of knowing? How do specialists—trained deeply in a single discipline—become pluralists?