My Wish for You This Week Vol. 20: Embrace the Expertise You've Cultivated Through Lived Experience

Occasionally on Mondays, I like to share a photo or two or a short video from my camera roll and a wish for others (and myself) for the week ahead. Since I know that not everyone uses Instagram, I also post them on the Optimistic Anthropology blog because the wishes often focus on themes we’re committed to in our work here - growing our sense of possibility, the power of changing mindsets and reflection, and of course observing the world, it’s beauty, and it’s challenges.  You can also check out previous wishes here.

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My wish for you this week is to embrace the expertise you've cultivated through lived experience, through being and doing; thinking, feeling and instinct. I've always been wary of the term "expert." I think there are three reasons why. First, I've found that expertise has implicit in it an assumption of narrowness and that learning stops. I also think that expertise is a concept very much tied up in the traditional, institutional forms of education and recognition which too often favors the individual over the contribution of many, and the crafting and controlling of ideas and knowledge over the sharing of them. And, finally, too often expertise feels very head-focused, and not valuing of heart and feelings and intuition. All of these run counter to my values - even as I'm still learning how to live them. In contrast, I am constantly amazed by what people can create and do out of lived experience. How brilliant and able people are to create something new and make things better. On Friday afternoon, I was reminded of this when I visited the @highmuseumofart in Atlanta. They have an exhibit on display called "Way Out There: The Art of Southern Backroads." It was inspired by a forgotten manuscript for an off-beat guidebook of more than 100 Southern self-taught artists. The manuscript was created by the late poet and publisher Jonathan Williams and photographers Guy Mendes and Roger Manley based on extensive road trips in the 1980s-90s. The exhibit featured their photos and poetry alongside works by the artists they highlighted. While we're not all self-taught artists, I believe we are all self-taught somethings! A few favorite pieces from James Harold Jennings (pic 1 and 6), Eddie Owens Martin (pic 2), Mose Tolliver (pic 3), Jonathan Williams (pic 4), and Howard Finster (pic 5). #art #selftaughtart #outsiderart #visionaryart #highmuseum #georgia #atlanta #wayoutthere #artmuseum #jamesharoldjennings #eddieowensmartin #mosttolliver #jonathanwilliams #howardfinster #selftaught #selftaughtsomethings #mywishforyou #optimisticanthro #adjacentpossible #havelovewilltravel

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Let me know what you think about this wish, share your own, or tell us about your self-taught something in the comments below or on Instagram where my handle is @AKGold11