Workshops

In these days of distraction and polarization, we must work harder to cultivate rituals that allow us to maintain perspective and connect with one another.

School of the Future | Photo by Kimberly Nichols

We often partner with cultural institutions and organizations to develop workshops that offer a unique blend of philosophy, personal narrative, and practical exercises. Drawing upon our experiences with teaching in the classroom, presenting on conference stages, and creating interactive materials for communities of all types and sizes, we can provide a series of workshops and engagement strategies specifically tailored for your organization. Get in touch to learn more, or read on for a couple of examples.

Who Are We?

Candy Chang is an artist, TED Fellow, and public speaker. She is represented by The Lavin Agency.

James A. Reeves is a writer, designer, and educator. He teaches at Parsons School of Design.

Surviving the Digital Age

The Role of Ritual in Undignified Times

Our attention spans are shredded. Our nerves are exhausted. How do we cope, let alone thrive? In this workshop we will examine the history, function, and possibilities of ritual. Through a series of presentations, discussions, and guided exercises, we will consider various acts of communion and devotion through a widescreen frame of social phenomena, psychology, visual culture, and classical philosophy that reanimates everything from the I Ching to William James to Dada to social media. Along the way, we will reckon with the role of ritual today, both as a solitary act of self-care as well as its potential for communion among strangers in an increasingly fractured age.

Meditations on Mortality

The Memento Mori in the Modern Age

“A free man thinks of nothing less than death,” wrote Spinoza, “and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life.” Displays of mourning and the contemplation of death were once critical components of public life, yet much of modern society has swept these elements from view. Today many of us are left to confront death alone without the rituals and reassurances of community. Using projects such as Before I Die and Grief is a Beast That Will Never Be Tamed as participatory exercises, we will contemplate our relationship with death, both individually and collectively, as we share our experiences with loss as well as the practices and texts that have provided solace. We will also examine the historic function of the memento mori as a device for maintaining perspective and clarifying our ambitions. Along the way, we will discuss how each of us might reclaim a more honest and beneficial relationship with mortality that can help us identify and pursue the things which matter most.

Anxiety & Hope

Examining Our Relationship With the Future

We live in an unsettled moment of technological, political, and social flux. Awash in endless currents of information delivered by glowing screens, each new headline brings a fresh opportunity for faith or despair. By definition, anxiety and hope are determined by a moment that has yet to arrive—but how often do we pause to fully consider our relationship with the future? Are we optimists or pessimists? Can this attitude be changed? How do our private sensibilities square with the current collective mood? Drawing upon the data culled from the tens of thousands of responses from A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful, we will discuss the themes and trends which have emerged and put them in conversation with classical and contemporary strategies for reckoning with uncertainty. Working through a series of guided exercises, we will consider why so many of our fears and expectations go unspoken, even to ourselves. Pinning down our hopes and uncertainties in ink can remind us of gratitude and purpose, and sometimes simply giving our anxieties a name can reduce them to something more manageable.

Infrastructure for the Soul

Custom Workshop & Engagement Strategy

Whether you’re planning an event or conference, cultivating community within the workplace, or developing an ongoing outreach effort, we can help you create a memorable engagement strategy that inspires specific conversations and provides a greater sense of kinship among your participants. This can include custom installations, talks, and workshops that encourage discussion and demonstrate the enlightening possibilities of communal reflection.

How can we help?

If you're interested in learning more about our workshops or partnering with us to develop a custom project, please fill out the form below and we'll be in touch. (If you'd like to create your own Before I Die wall, you can learn more and download the resources here.)