Better Communication using Spiritual Art Practices

In the corporate world being a team player is quite different than being on a sports team. You might not have a clear and obvious opponent. The opposition might be closer to home within the team itself. For any team effort to succeed communication is always key. In the board room some people may have an easier time expressing themselves because they may be loudest or a chosen leader. The quieter types might not get a chance to voice their opinions, however great they might be. This is a typical problem that is not easily solved or even known about by the higher ups. This quiet lurking dissatisfaction is really the true enemy of any good business.

Annual or frequent off site corporate workshops can help break up tensions that are forming. It is also a great way to see colleagues in a non business setting working together as complete equals. I have been doing Mandela workshops for over 6 years at Unicamp of Ontario and find it is the best way to help foster better communication within a group.

The Mandela workshop addresses issues of communication. The group is broken up into teams of four. Each group is given the challenge of designing a round Mandela in marker and coloured pencil. The Mandela consists of a target with nine concentric rings. Each ring needs to be filled in by a different person. The rings need to relate to each other but be different enough in design to be interesting to the viewer. Each individual is equal. They need to negotiate; space to work, colour, line, and pattern with their peers. They need to verbalize what their plan is and what will work beside their ring. The Mandela always needs to be cohesive within it self. Participants learn to balance their desires with others and ego is soon thrown out the window. The Mandela and the success of the image is the goal of the group. They also need to be able to voice when they want to shift or turn the Mandela to complete the rest of their ring. As the work progresses people also become more aware of what their fellow workers need, whether that is a specific colour or more space to continue to draw.

As the project develops and the colours emerge, more conversation and more cohesion is built within the group. A rhythm is established of when to colour and when to shift the Mandela. The anticipation of the next ring being coloured is heightened once a ring is complete. The largest outer ring is the last to be completed. All four participants will work on this together, expressing ideas, sharing colours, designs and trying to complete their section being true to the patterns already established, in previous rings, to give the entire Mandela cohesion. This is the true test of growing trust and communication. As the project finishes they can look at this Mandela as an extension of them individually from their own sections and then also view themselves as part of the larger picture being a member of the group.


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Lauren Renzetti, is Assistant Director at Art Works Art School, and an Instructor. Art Works offers a wide variety of corporate workshops in drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. Lauren is also artist in residence at Unicamp. Join her in making this summer.