IN THE BEGINNING
It took me a while to realize that not everyone saw the world as I did. Of course I’m a good actress. I act every day. I can act like a manager. Or a stuffed animal-come-alive. Or act like I really enjoyed a cocktail party. Doesn’t everyone?
Every day in a thousand little ways I create an experience that is an expression of who I am. My colors. My music. Even my emails. It’s not fine art. It’s art in real life.
I set out to help parents, regardless of income, realize that power of art in their families’ lives. The more I researched the topic, the more convinced I became that art is not just present and integrated – but essential to being human. It helps us interpret our world and express ourselves within it.
So my focus broadened to what you now see in this website. Part celebration. Part exploration. An open dialogue.
What is art? So much depends on how I defined it – even way back to primary school. I could draw. And I thought that was art. When I went to college, the University of Maine, I studied art and education. An early course, the History of Art, taught by Professor Hartgen, changed everything for me.
He darkened the classroom. Made us imagine it was a cold cave long ago. “What would drive people to go into the darkness with the faint light of a fire – to create images?”
Ohhhhhh. I get it. It is powerful and meaningful – and everywhere.
After college I taught school for one year, knowing from minute one that that was not my path. Spent a couple years, ending as the acting director, at The Performing Arts Center of Bath. There I got to experience the amazing and wonderful – and different – cultures of the classical crowds, the jazz crowds, the folk crowds, etc. They each had their own language, fashion, rituals – ways of engaging. The folk community was filled with four-part harmonies and kids running everywhere. The classical community was more formal both in fashion and demeanor. “What would drive people to go into the darkness with the faint light of a fire – to create images?” “What would drive people to express themselves in such different ways?”
My corporate career began with L. L. Bean, heading up the Training & Development function as they launched a major organizational change. I later moved to New York City and, for the next 30 years, led major change initiatives in large companies, such as J.P. Morgan Chase, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company and Publishers Clearinghouse.
It was all about organizational culture – and all the ways companies can make it easy and compelling to do the right thing. I learned the power of storytelling – who gets talked about? Who gets airtime? Who are your heroes? I learned about the importance of greetings, how and where you sit, dress codes. What words do you use to talk about customers? Employees? All the tiny and significant rituals work together to define an organization.
Since I left the business world, I have had the privilege of teaching in the formative years of The Blue School; hosted a monthly salon for women in theater; worked with The Public Theater and Mark Morris Dance.
And always I have been thinking about art in real life and how to bring the concept to the rest of you. I think it is exciting and fun and I hope you, too, will enjoy.
I live in Philadelphia in the same building with my daughter and her family. My son and his family are in Maine.
— Susan Adam, April 2020