1. Why did you write this book?
I had worked for many years running intercultural training workshops with participants from all over the world, and I was also a docent at the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of modern and contemporary art. I felt strongly that art was a dynamic pathway into understanding other cultures and our own. When we establish a personal connection to a piece of art, we have a chance to learn a great deal about ourselves and others.
2. What is the most important thing you want readers to take away from this book?
We can open deep pathways to understanding with others by searching for shared meanings. One way to do that is through dialogues with art, either one-to-one with just one viewer and one piece of art - or in groups, where several of us share perceptions and listen to one another’s insights.
3. Name one or two books in our field that influenced you the most, that you think all interculturalists should be familiar with? Why?
Some books that influenced me were not necessarily written by interculturalists but were exceptionally meaningful to me. Daniel Boorstin’s The Creators and David Bohm’s On Dialogue are among them. Robert Kohls’s Survival Kit for Overseas Living continues to be a useful guide because of its straight-forward and down-to-earth style.
4. What is one of the most significant, most memorable cross-cultural experiences you have had?
I am among the fortunate to have had a number of significant cross-cultural experiences. Several took place while sharing music or food.
5. If you could pass on only one insight/one lesson learned to others about crossing cultures, what would you say?
Observe closely, notice your own immediate judgements and avoid speaking them, Describe carefully, to yourself, what you see and feel.
6. This newsletter goes to nearly 1,000 readers, folks who are either in or interested in the field of intercultural communications. If you’d like to say something else to these folks, something we have not asked about in this questionnaire, feel free to add your brief comments here.
I wrote a book about using art as a form of intercultural communication because art is everywhere and reveals what one artist and, often, what whole cultures value. When we pay attention, art can give us insights that little else can.