‘Creating may help me or others connect but more than anything else, it helps us to connect to ourselves’Linda Levitt
This article is the second in a series of interviews with the core members of ProjectART UBU. These interviews are meant to give you an in-depth sense of who we are and why we believe so much in ProjectART UBU and the infinite creation that is the human spirit.
Question: Where were you born and what was it like growing up?
Answer: I was born in a pretty magical place- Rapid City, South Dakota USA- in the 1950s. It was just a small town on the edge of the Black Hills. I remember it as a place where most people were able to be themselves. Safe. Private. Peaceful. I realize now that I was a bit different even then … freer, less inhibited, very curious. My parents let me be that. Myself. And, THAT is pretty important. I liked to be alone in the quiet, and in my head, and found it easy there to find ways to entertain myself.
I simply stayed connected with nature. I was able to be myself without interference. And, as art goes, it was easy to find the beauty in the “art” everywhere around me- hiding in the lilac hedges, playing in the varied and amazing rock formations, the amazing trees, watching the sky change, laying in the meadows listening to the bird songs … searching for wildflowers poking through the snow. That was my connection to art.
Poet by Flashlight
I don’t believe I knew or was influenced by anyone traditionally “artistic” in my childhood. It would have been weird. People were simply farmers, ranchers, carpenters, car mechanics, shop owners… humans surviving as friends, families, neighbors. Yet, my dad did love music and sang daily and lovingly in our home and he created Barbershop Choruses across the Western States that he was passionate about. My mom always wanted to be a writer and wrote things on her antique black typewriter in our basement that she never shared with me or anyone. And she created really beautiful food, artistic dinners and baked goods encouraging me to see food as art. My grandmother sewed for a living. Amazing stuff. My grandfather was a thwarted architect and created a beautiful home full of artifacts and books. But “art” as we know it today just wasn’t part of my personal or public education.
I began writing secret poetry when I was perhaps age 13- hiding with a flashlight to write in my closet at night. I remember my English teacher, Mrs. Wells, found my notebook one day, writings I had left in a notebook under my desk in her classroom. She called me my home that night-which was beyond anything slightly normal- telling me they were intriguing and that she wanted to talk to me about them. This, for some reason, scared me to the point that I took my whole writing collection at home and built a bonfire in my backyard that night and burnt everything – so there was nothing left for her to read. My thoughts, and what I write, is PRIVATE… until and IF I want to share, as it still is. But when I think of this now, that probably kindly but terrifying invasion into me, kept me from writing again for a long, long time. Like 44 years.
Of Nature, Nurture, and Light
Question: Did that have any influence over your creative mind as you are today?
Answer: Growing up free influenced me and allowed me to have a really creative mind. I am a thinker, a seeker, and a wanderer. I am always wanting to connect seemingly unconnected pieces and bits. People and places. Ideas and opportunities. Past and Future. Darkness and Light.
Spending a lot of my childhood alone and uncontrolled and without criticism helped me believe in myself, encouraging me to happily, wholly be me. That freedom and immersion in nature are what nurtured and influenced me the most. I really, unfortunately, have had no human mentors. I ask questions. And, I search for the answers.
Oddly, for my lifework, I choose to become a teacher. I understand the power of mentorship. I taught in a traditional public school system in AZ and at the University for 43 years, teaching everything and everyone from preschool through graduate school focusing on exception individuals- people labeled LD, ADHD, Autism, Creatives, Gifted. I am attracted to the exceptional. Luckily, I had a chance to be really creative as a teacher. I found school boring and stifling, as did my students.
So I created classrooms, curriculum, outdoor garden environments that were kid-friendly, thematic, environmentally-oriented, full of art and music and movement, mindfulness and nature and building of compassion and community. I found over the years as I became known as a “gifted specialist” that the way to measure and expand intelligence is through creativity – the ability to allow the mind to look at life from different perspectives.
Nurturing creativity and self- expression and self-worth sparks so much in everyone and I know from my childhood, my years in traditional education, and parenting my own children that it’s vital to open to enhancing the young mind.
A movement like ProjectART UBU is something I’ve been thinking about for a long, long time – honoring and connecting authentic individuals. I always wanted to be part of a place where interesting people who have a passion for being themselves could connect and be accepted and nurtured in a shared and powerful community – therefore ProjectART UBU and my interest in UBU… the University of Being You.
Question: What was the first type of creation you did, and why?
Answer: I always collect things from nature when I was young, and still do now, and I made stuff. I mixed concoctions, wove things or built things or tied things together, always with a connection to nature and the outdoors. I created my own clothes, jewelry, perfumes, furniture. I built gardens. Why? I hate to see “something” become “nothing” so I enjoyed finding things that were perhaps undervalued, unused or unwanted, not needed or about to be thrown away and I re-invented their purposes.
My creative talent is in trying to see things in a new way – to me everything matters and it shouldn’t be tossed by the wayside. People either.
I also collected people. I call them “Perfect Strangers.” I created relationships with seemingly unconnected strangers who showed up in the strangest ways in the oddest places. I know now they came into my life to get me to where I am today.
Question: How does creating make you feel?
Answer: It makes me feel fully alive – powered to “ON”. Creating is the outlet for pent-up energy. Creating may help me or others connect, but more than anything else, it helps us to connect to ourselves. Connecting to my inner source energy by creating things makes me feel more ME and more whole and gives me the power to make things better outside of myself, in my own little world, or the world in general.
Question: What impact do you want your creation to have and what do you think is the best way to make that impact?
Answer: I am not a true paper and product artist. I collect thoughts and energy, ideas and people. But I am a creative and I would say that creation is a glow, a glimmer, a spark that lights up what you are. I have found a way to express my gifts. As trite as it might sound, I have decided to call myself “heARTist” – I made up the term and I don’t want it to sound silly or pretentious. I have a hugely artistic spirit – I so appreciate and have a great heart for art. I dress and think and live in an artistic way, to the very core of my being. I am a very deep appreciator of ART of all forms as well as the spirit and the art of creation.
My dream is to enhance the creationist in all of us. I’m very drawn to supporting those that thrive as they create, and that’s why, to me, heARTist means I try to teach others the “art of living from the heart” – to truly find and nurture the beat of being totally oneself and truly ALIVE. I want to connect and to teach people to connect to themselves as all others in a very real and raw, authentic way- heart to heart.
My interest in all this, the power of living wholly, creating and connecting, is deeply rooted in the current findings of neuroscience. My time now is spent exploring how the brain and the body and the heart “create.” I am interested and involved with autistic individuals with extremely high levels of creativity, as well as people struggling with themselves; trauma, abuse, PTSD, anxiety, depression, addiction… or basically just with LIFE. I’m interested in exploring where creativity comes from within the body and soul and how we connect to it and become our true selves. My passion is about helping others trying to remember who they are and in finding that true worth and joy within themselves.
Part of my impact is wanting to be in a position where I can be supportive while I continue to be fascinated with, authentic. artistic, creative people. I truly believe that when people are living from their souls, they become their true selves and see their purpose on this planet and become truly happy at the same time. Being a mentor in the creation of ProjectART UBU, and the main mentor and “Dean” of UBU University. I am reaching for a way to create and build with those of a creative mind and who are of an open mind … and of an open heart. Currently, I live in a town called Carefree, the hub of where we are launching ProjectART UBU. U. “Carefree” where else could be better??? I think this is the perfect place to promote living authentically and ProjectART.
Going Beyond Traditions in Education
Question: Where do you see your creation going in the next year? 5 years? More?
Answer: My creation in this picture is the UBU part of ProjectART– “The University of Being U”. I’ve gone as far as I can within the traditional schooling and educational systems. I want to provide a portal and a mentoring system and a community for creative minds to expand into their own sense of individuality and the power within that. ProjectART UBU wants to provide connections and training and tools to help AEIs be what they really are and still be able to contribute to society, and supporting themselves while still being immersed in what they love and who they authentically are. I hope this year we launch. I hope in 5 years we truly thrive by continually connecting with those who are looking for us.
Question: What is one of the most meaningful experiences you’ve ever had?
Answer: Tough question. I find great meaning in everything. But I will say that as I think about this question, the few times in my life when someone actually “got” me, as in truly understood who I was, what I was trying to say, do, express, create, or be- as a woman, or a partner, or a mother, or a runner, or a teacher or a writer, or a friend… are the moments that race across my mind…. the electric lavender spark of “connection.”
Question: How do you think that may have influenced your creative mind?
Answer: I think those moments are the fuel that kept ME from ever accepting defeat, diminishing, disappearing. They made me feel Holy.
Think Outside the Box
Question: Why do you think creation is so important to today’s society and our future?
Answer: The more we label and box people, the more rules we have for them about what is/is not “OK” the less our individual spirit has a chance to shine. If people today are so concerned with being accepted, they are always going to second-guess themselves and live in fear, unable to shift into their highest potential. I think that people living from the true spirit inside of them are happiest. School seems to just tap uniqueness and creation out of kids, seeking conformity, as does our current society. And bullying people for their uniqueness just pulls that away from why we are here. When you create, you are not alone in the dark and without purpose. Our society and the future of humanity and Planet Earth depends on the creation of new ideas and new solutions.
Question: Why do you believe in ProjectART UBU?
Answer: I think it takes a lot of stuff from different angles. It’s new and fresh and expandable for so many people – it’s endless for those that need an outlet for their expression and talents.
Question: What is your position with ProjectART UBU and how does it impact potential and current members?
Answer: My current role is to be the Dean of UBU University. Essentially, my role is to be a Master Connector and the Main Mentor. What I’m hoping to do is to create and nurture a community of older or established Authentic Exceptional Individuals who have talents, skills, experiences, knowledge and energy and the desire to share. There are so many people and AEIs who realize the value of mentorship and want to pass on their knowledge – I want those people to have the opportunity to do that.
Question: What does authentic or authenticity mean to you?
Answer: Authenticity means you are connected to your center and not afraid to be there. When you are your authentic self, there’s no hidden part clouding you being you. It doesn’t, definitely doesn’t mean you get to act in ways that are unkind, hurtful or cruel but it allows you to be your best real self, coming into every situation openly.
Linda Levitt is one of the Core Members of ProjectART UBU and looks forward to working with and supporting you on your journey to finding your true, authentic self.