Transcript for What Happens to the World on Art? Podcast Episode
Okay. Welcome everybody to take an Art Break podcast. We’re so excited. Today we have artist Catherine Jos here. And Katherine, tell us about yourself as an artist and about the global art piece Project for Peace.
Well, I’m Katherine Joss, as you said, <laugh>. And I’m an artist and I’m the founder, director of the Global Art Project for Peace. And and I also taught art at the college and university level for about 14 years before I started the project. But the, and, and the project grew out of my own artwork. And my art was saying three main things. We are all one, there is no death, we are not alone. And the, we are all one part for the Global Art Project. Just grew organically out of my own artwork. So the mission of the project is to joyously create a culture of peace through art. So.
Wow. That sounds awesome. I love that mission. We generally kind of use a question as a starting off point for all of our podcasts. And the question we wanted to sort of pose today with you is in light of the, the project that you’ve been working on for so long and made such a big impact is what happens to the world on art.
Well, that’s a really big question. <Laugh> <laugh>.
Well, yeah, we like to ask really big questions.
Well, you know, I don’t even know where to begin on that one. The global art, doing the global art project, you know, one of the reasons that I do it is because you know, I feel like in order to make an artwork, you can’t really make an artwork without feeling it inside. And, and so you have to go inside, get centered, get balanced, and only then is your, you know, when you’re really connected up to your inner source of wisdom that’s when you’re really inspired and that’s when inspired art comes out. And I think, you know, that takes really going deep inside. And I, I just feel like, and, and when you do go inside, that’s when you feel a connection to the whole, you know, you feel connected to not only other people, but nature and the world. You just feel your energy vibrating with all the other energy in the world.
And, and when you feel that you can’t possibly want to injure, you know, another being or, you know, because it’s, it’s a part of you we’re all one and we’re all connected. So I feel like art is a way that people can go inside and really connect and really feel that connection with everyone. And if everyone felt that, I don’t think we would have, you know, a lot of the conflicts that we have going on in the world. And I know, you know, a lot of people when they participate in the Global Art project you know, especially now, they say to me, oh, you know, thank heaven’s you’re doing this now because it it, it it helps me to see that there are other people in the world who think like me and who want peace and who want to feel connected, you know? And instead of just seeing all the news that we’re seeing, it’s like, no, there’s all these other wonderful things going on in the world and we feel connected. So, and Art helps you to feel that connection,
You know? Can you share a story about someone that was really amazing that went deep inside and really felt the piece in during this project? Is there a story that happened or something that’s memorable?
You know, no, but I, I’m just thinking of one image that an artist created and and it, it was just a beautiful image. It sort of was a mandala sort of image with it’s hard to explain, but it was really beautiful. And around the outside she said, the last unexplored frontier inner space, when I find peace within myself, <laugh>, then I will find peace in the world. And I love that because that just expresses well, pretty much expresses what I just tried to say. Wow, that’s <laugh>. Beautiful, beautiful. And, and the interesting thing is, you know, it’s so wonderful ’cause so many people who participate in the global art project have participated year after year after year. And this was a person who participated for many years, was a regional coordinator and helped to get other people involved. And she has now passed.
And you know, I think of her and I’ve used her image on a poster and, you know, I just feel like her energy and all of our energy just keeps going out there into the world and keeps affecting the world. And that’s what art does. You know, one of the important things is not only do people exchange art for the global art project, but I use the images then for posters and we have, you know, wonderful galleries on the website so people anywhere can tune in and see these incredible images. So that energy keeps going out into the world, it isn’t lost. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So her energy, her beautiful positive energy is still affecting the world. So I think that’s just beautiful <laugh>. Yeah.
Yeah. it’s like a ripple effect. I really, I really like that idea of it. And I think that to me, what’s interesting about this project is not only are you encouraging people to make art in order to go inward and get to know their, their inner space, as you talked about, you, there’s also a trade of it, an exchange of of peace centered art every April across the globe. And so I love this idea of, of art with like peace, energy floating around the globe for a month and then falling into someone’s hands. And just like I’m thinking about all the hands it goes through until it gets to its final destination. You know, what does that mean to you to have that happen on an annual basis? These, these objects of peace sort of floating around the, the globe?
Yeah. well actually it’s every two years. Every two years. Okay. That’s every even year. So this year coming up 2024 is a year of the exchange. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, but, you know, well, even to that, when I send out brochures for the global art project, and we have about 200 regional coordinators around the world, and when I send the brochures out, I even put a note saying, you know, the, these are seeds of the, the brochures themselves or seeds of
That are going out into the world. And you never know where they’re going to land and what’s going to sprout and the artwork or the flowers, the, and flowers that bloom from these seeds of peace. So, so I think about that often, that so it’s not only the, it’s every part of it going out into the world is energy, as you said, rippling out into the world. And it’s all making a difference because as we know, energy is never dissolved. It’s out there and it’s gonna manifest in some way. So we’re all together putting our energy out there together, and it is making a difference, you know? So, yeah. I love
I love, I’ve always loved the idea because I’m a painter also about the painting becomes like a psychic imprint of whatever intention you have. So can have you thought about that? And do participants kind of really think about that, you know, when they’re doing it, like, you know, I’m, I’m, you know, ’cause I was thinking about that today as we were gonna talk. I was like, okay, peace inside first <laugh>. You know what I mean? Peace inside first. And then when you create with that, you know, you really have to, and then that you’re gonna share this piece. And it’s just, it’s amazing. I mean, it’s powerful. Have you
Thought about that? Oh, absolutely. Yes. And e even when I send out the brochures to regional coordinators, I’ve put in there that please put your intention, you know, into this, that you are putting this out into the world. And, and you know, my assumption is that everyone who is creating this art is putting their intention into the art piece to then go out into the world because intention is everything <laugh>, you know, so mm-hmm. <Affirmative> Yeah. Intention makes all the difference. So,
Yeah. You said that you taught and that sort of led you to create this project. Can you talk about that, the, sort of the history of how it began and
What you were thinking of the time, how it manifested?
Yeah. No, it wasn’t the teaching that led to doing the global art project. It was, it grew outta my own artwork. Organic. Mm-hmm.
And and actually yeah, my artwork was saying three main things. We are all one, there is no death. We are not alone. And, but even my own artwork, when I was in my early twenties, I had a really intense out of body experience that, and I was, you know, speeding through space. And it was, you know, in this mm-hmm. <Affirmative> tense vortex of energy that I went down into another, you know, I knew I was leaving this reality dimension. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to come back. And and so my fear brought me out of it, but it happened the next night. And finally the third night I was able to control my fear enough to go down into this swirling vortex of energy. And after, after that experience I knew, you know, I always knew on that there is no death, you know, that things continue, but also that we’re one energy vibrating together.
So this experience just gave me a lot of knowings on a whole lot of different levels that we are all one energy. And immediately after I, after I had this experience, it was so profound and visually intense that I wanted to continue doing this. So I decided to go into visual art so that I would be able to have, continue having experiences and be able to express the ideas in my art. And so for 12 years I worked around this body of work origins that, those three main things. And, but after doing it for 12 years, it was like, okay, now it’s time to do something to make it real in the world. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And, and, you know, for those 12 years, I, I was in my studio all the time. I wore nothing but black, you know, because I was so in, you know, to get this out. And and then to do the global art projects, it’s like the total opposite. I have to be totally out into the world and totally mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to be able to, but it, it, it takes that idea, we are all one and expresses it in the world. And if in fact we are all one, then everyone else in the world who’s creating the art is a part of me creating the art. So it’s an extension of my own artwork. But
Beautiful. I also had an on the body experience when I was 18. I was in a car crash though, and I had, I saw myself in, in the lights and they were putting a halo over my head. And the only thing that flashed me in was I saw my nephew, he was okay, he was a three year old that was in the car as well. And then boom, I went back into my body. But my personal story is I was more of like a tormented artist, you know, like, kind of like gothic <laugh>. And then after that, I became really into mysticism. Like, I was like searching. And from my experience, I really tapped into that. There is something so much larger than ourselves out there. And I guess you could call, that would be the one, right? That would be the one energy that is, it’s not, it’s not here, <laugh>. It’s not in our bodies, our bodies. And we forget, unless we have such a shocking experience of revelation, we don’t, it’s hard to remember, you know? But the question I had, you were talking about this inner work of, you know, you were going, you know, you had these out of body experiences, and I would love to know, was it meditation or how did that happen? And then you had the outer, and so did you feel it was this dance of personal becoming universal? Do you know what I mean?
Yeah. Well, the thing is I al growing up I had mystical experiences. Mm. It wasn’t, I had had that before, but this one was so intense and so profound, and it was one of those things that it totally led me into doing art. It led me into doing the global art project. It was one of those that, you know, and I knew that this is absolutely what I came here to do. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I forget what your question I was
Talking about, you know, this dance, because it was birthed out of this inner, inner, inner journey, right? And then you took it to the outer, which is the global art project for peace. And just the dance between this personal and this universal. And how can, you know, even like the participants are, they’re doing it too. They’re dancing in this personal universal, this inner and outer that kind of like, maybe it’s just me talking <laugh>, but if you could add to that <laugh>
No, no. I mean, well, because it all, it all starts inside, you know? And until, until, I don’t know, that’s a profound thing. ’cause A lot of people don’t realize that or come to that, you know, much later in life. But when you come to that, it just shifts your whole paradigm. It shifts how you view everything. And I, and I think you know, even, you know, I tell people the hardest part of doing the global art project can be going inside and imagining that peace is possible. You know, with all the, with all the conflict that’s going on in the world, and your family and your home and your school, you know, it’s like, okay, gotta go inside, get centered, you know? And it starts inside, you know? And, and it can’t, it can’t affect, well, what you do affects outside, but if you, it will anyway, <laugh>. Yeah.
Yeah. I get, I get what you’re, I get what you’re saying though. I, I think it’s a really important point to bring up though, that it really is hard sometimes to believe that world, world peace is possible. It’s really difficult. We’re sent information on a daily basis that it’s impossible, right? We live, we live in a very fear based society and we’re fear-based beings for survival reasons, you know? And so I do think you have to practice being peaceful and art is a great way to practice that. So I appreciate that notion that maybe someone can’t do it, and they’re just like, you know what? I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna make art. I’m just, at least I’ll, at least I’ll do that. And eventually I think art itself can lead you to that peaceful place, right? Because it will open you up whether you want it to or not.
Art is going to introduce you to your entire self. And when you’re ready for it, all of you <laugh> Yeah. It’s really gonna let you know who you are the good, the bad all of it, the whole pie. You’re gonna eat the whole pie. And I think that’s a good thing to do. And art is a really great tool for processing that. And so you dive into that, and then maybe you can find peace for those people who can’t necessarily, who haven’t found that yet, right? In order to have that intention. Maybe you just start with the art. Maybe some people can start with the piece and then make the art. Maybe some people need to start with the art, get to the piece, and then keep making the art, right. Because all of it is really important, even the process itself. But I, I think that’s a really great point to, to say that. Yes, it’s difficult to imagine that piece can exist, especially, I mean, at any time in a society. But if you if you, if you don’t start with you, it’s never gonna happen. So start with you. I I really like that.
Yeah. And you know, someone once asked me, or someone once said to me, well, you can’t, you can’t make pe there, there always has been war. There always will be war. You can’t make peace. And mm-hmm. And, you know, and I remember my response was, well, but you can you can work towards your ideal, you know? And if you’re, if you’re in the world working towards your ideal, when you look at yourself in the mirror, you feel good about yourself, you know, because you know you’re doing your thing, you know, and you’re listening to yourself and you’re, you know, and, and the thing is, you’re creating in your own tiny little space, you’re creating that that piece. And that, as we said, it does ripple out into the, the whole rest of the world. So, but, and I like what you said about just even the process of making art, because that’s true, even the process, because you’re focused, you’re focused in, and you are, I mean, even that focus is a centering. It’s so, it, it doesn’t matter even that you’re you know, it doesn’t matter the image, it’s the, the process of focusing in on cr creation. And you know, when, when you’re in the process of creation, that’s, you know, that’s the closest you can get to your <laugh>, to your source, you know, in that inner source of wisdom. Love that.
So we know that you have some global recognition, UNESCO you were presenting there. Can you talk about that?
Oh, didn’t, didn’t you talk have a speech at unesco?
Oh, no. That was the International Network of Museums for Peace. Oh, okay. And I was on the advisory committee of that for about seven years, and now I’m a senior advisor. But every three years they have a major conference some place, and all the peace institutions come there and they can give presentations. And so I gave a, it’s a really wonderful organization. And so every three years, yeah, it happens. And this time it was in ses, Sweden. And actually it was really wonderful this time. ’cause I made some, you know, well, you always make good contacts and, you know, meet wonderful people. <Laugh>, but the, the Peace Museum in Kiev Ukraine mm-hmm. Woman there who is a court she was very excited about having the Peace Museum get schools and individuals in groups in Kiev in the surrounding area involved in the global art project.
And another, another person I met was, is the coordinator of the peace Museum in Teran, Iran. And she was very excited about getting people there involved. And yeah, it’s just <laugh>. So it, it’s a, it’s a really wonderful organization and and, and it, it’s really helpful. Well, you know, everybody feels so isolated and separated and, and you’re doing this piece work. And so it’s really wonderful to come together every three years and just hear what other people are doing. ’cause There’s so many different avenues for peace. I’m just, you know, someone also one time asked me well, why do you think making art is the best way to make peace? <Laugh>? I said, I said, I don’t think that making art is the best way. It’s one way. You know, everybody has their own opening and this is just one way. There’s so many other wonderful ways to create peace. Yeah, <laugh>,
Yeah. I, I mean, I think that’s awesome to even hear that there’s organizations working together towards peace. You know? I feel a lot of times in, in some sections of the art world itself, it does feel very separate. It feels very ego-driven and about the individual. And I think that even that can happen in movements that people are trying to create, right? You almost forget that it, it’s better to collaborate than not to collaborate. And you know, that can happen for many reasons. So I’m, I think it’s awesome that not only are you sort of open to the notion of where whatever we need to do to get to peace works for me. There’s no one way to get there so long as we get there. And everybody else is open to listening to all the ways in which you are getting there. It’s, it’s, it’s awesome. I mean, I think collaboration is definitely key, right? It’s that the individual seeking of the partnership and then the collaboration and then the community and that conversation and that that’s how you grow and grow and grow and grow. I love it.
That’s what I love about the Global Art Project and why I think it’s so successful because it is all about collaboration. You know, me individually, I could do nothing, but it’s all these people, you know, all these schools and all these organizations and all these individuals and everybody participating is making it happen. I couldn’t do it if there weren’t all these. And actually when I started it, I was only going to do it once. ’cause It was so difficult. And, and after, and you know, when I started it, that was back in 1993. Wow. First change was 94. There was no internet. I didn’t have a computer. I wrote up a press release and sent it to English language, newspapers and major cities throughout the world, not knowing what would happen. And there, and, and I also sent it to United Press International and Associated Press <laugh>.
And it ended up the Bangkok Post and Aton Post in Oslo, Norway. And so for the first exchange, there were 3,600 people in 19 countries. And wow. I was only gonna do it once. And then I started receiving letters from participants saying, you’ve gotta do this again. And when you do <laugh>, read the word in my area. So it became a biannual event happening every two years. And when I saw that it was kind of continuing, I said, okay, I’ll give 10 years outta my art to do this. Been 30 years now. And I think what have, the main thing that has kept me going all this time is the response, the feedback. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> I’ve
Gotten mm-hmm. <Affirmative>,
Because after each exchange I go, I cannot possibly do this to myself again. ’cause The administration is so awful, you know? Yes. But then like birth, then the baby comes, you know, then you start receiving and seeing all these incredible images and, and the notes and what people write and say how it affected not only their school, but their whole community and how every, you know, and I read this and I go, how can I not do this? You know? So that is really what has kept me going is the response from people. So, and it’s just this huge collaboration. Yeah. And there have been, yeah, there have been so many, we’ve had schools all the way from kindergarten and nursery school through entire graduate programs that have participated. And there have been some universities that have created courses specifically for their students to participate in the global art project and get their community involved and have an exhibition.
And the tie in community university did that. And yeah, so it’s, it, it has been a total organic process. It has been leading me. I have not been leading it. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, and every time that I think, oh my God, I’m just too drained. I can’t do this anymore. It’s like something, something else exciting happens that gets me jazzed about it. Again, you know, there’s always something, you know, one of our regional coordinators was the co-chairman of the fine art and design department at Beijing Normal University. And he got the university education department to collaborate with the fine art and design department to get 52 schools throughout China and Inter Mongolia participating. Wow. And they did that for many years until Covid hit mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but now had 165,000 participants in 97 countries. And we have about 200 regional coordinators. And Yeah. And it was nominated for you nuts. Go prize for tolerance and nonviolence. Yeah.
Wow. Bravo. Yeah. Bravo. You’re like a testimony to art transforms and art can transform the world, right?
And when I started, I had no money. I had no contacts, no computer <laugh>. I borrowed $300 from my parents to print banners and brochures. ’cause It’s such an ephemeral idea, yet you needed something tangible, you know, to make it real. And and I tried to apply for Grants <laugh>, and, you know, I thought, oh, this is such a great idea. Surely I’ll get a grant. You know?
I would read letters back saying, this is too grandiose of an idea. No one can possibly do this. You know, do something more realistic. But I knew that it could work. You know, I could see it clearly in my mind. And so, you know.
Yeah. Well, it, yeah, <laugh>, it’s, it is clearly working and I’m glad you are continuing to do it. Yeah. So I, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today about it and introduce some more people to the project.
And so Lisa
Looks like she has
Be part of this. How can they get ahold of you? What’s the best way to become part of the movement?
Well yeah, because we have brochures that I can send and so yeah, if you email me email@example.com or you can no, the best way go, or you can go on the website and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, or you can go on the website and register to participate, or you can go on the website and register to be on our email list. We just put out a promotional email that I can send you. If you wanna be a regional coordinator and help distribute brochures in your area and get people involved in your area, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website is no wait, <laugh> www.globalartproject.org. <Laugh>. Yeah.
Wonderful. Awesome. And we will, we’ll list link. Yeah. We’ll put links in the description so people can click on it and find you. And of course, people can always get ahold of us if they can’t find you, and we’ll help them get connected.
Thank you so much for doing the work you’re doing. Oh,
Thank you. Thank you. Amazing. Thank you.