Jan
25

How to be an explorer of the world

posted on January 25th 2013 in Books & Inspiration & Philosophy with 0 Comments

As a fan of guerrilla artist and illustrator Keri SmithWreck This Box set of interactive journals, part of these 7 favorite activity books for grown-ups, I was delighted to discover her How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum — a wonderful compendium of 59 ideas for how to get creatively unstuck by engaging with everyday objects and your surroundings in novel ways. From mapping found sounds to learning the language of trees to turning time observation into art, these playful and poetic micro-projects aren’t just a simple creativity booster — they’re potent training for what Buddhism would call “living from presence” and inhabiting your life more fully.

It all began with this simple list, which Smith scribbled on a piece of paper in the middle a sleepless night in 2007:

exploreroftheworldEventually, it became the book.

exploreroftheworld1 exploreroftheworld2 exploreroftheworld3a

Smith says of the book’s curious choice of subtitle:

I am interested in the idea of taking art (or museum shows/collections) out of the realm of ‘institution’ and into the hands of the individual, one does not need a formal space to put things in, in order for it to be valid. A museum is what YOU make it. You decide what goes in it, what is interesting, why it is interesting, how it could be displayed. It gives the reader permission to create their own portable (or not portable) show. It doesn’t have to be a public show either, it could just be your own private collections of whatever YOU find interesting. Think of it as a kind of “Sim Museum”, except in the real world. The book begins with ideas about what and how to collect things you find in the world (found objects, thoughts, ideas, stories, things from nature, etc.), a section on various ways of displaying the things you collect, and how to set up a showing.

Especially delightful — and not only because of the Anaïs Nin reference — is this author’s note in the preface, a nod to Mark Twain’s conviction that “all ideas are second-hand” and Henry Miller’s contention that most of what we create is composed of “hand-me-down ideas”:

exploreroftheworld4

Alongside the micro-projects are hand-written quotes by great creative minds of yore, including Italo Calvino, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Corita Kent:

exploreroftheworld5 exploreroftheworld6 exploreroftheworld7

exploreroftheworld8

Both daring and meditative, How to Be an Explorer of the World is part Maira Kalman, part Wendy MacNaughton, part its very own kind of whimsy, delivering — beautifully — exactly what it says on the tin, with an invitation to be just a little bit more alive each day.

 

Leave a Reply