Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Flow & Grit in East St. Louis
Last week, shortly after we had begun our "East St. Louis Vision Board" activity at our GRIT after-school program, I noticed two young women students sitting at two separate desks working especially diligently on their boards. Whereas most everyone else was sitting with a small group, pasting and also having fun socializing with friends, these two young women seemed to be in a different zone.
They were somehow managing to tune everyone and everything out and working on materializing whatever vision they had in their minds onto their respective boards. As I made my way around the room checking on various students, I occasionally stopped by each of the students' desks to check in on them.
One young woman would stop and answer my questions but keep looking back at her board, basically signaling to me that she wanted to get back to work rather than chat about the work. The other young woman was even more serious; she would barely looked up as she was so engaged with the process of producing her collage.
Some years ago, I read about this concept "flow," where "a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus." And maybe I was witnessing an aspect of flow in motion with those two students. It's also possible that part of grit for them was exercising their abilities to tune out the excitement and noise of the room and all the activities taking place around them in order to produce those boards.
Either way, it was inspiring and instructive for me to have the opportunity to watch these young artists at work.
• Notebook on the GRIT program
• An East St. Louis Sketchbook