Tonight was the opening reception for the 6th annual Push conference that I will be covering on this blog. Push's founder described the conference atmosphere as a "zone of discovery" and said that she hoped through our experiences here that we will develop connections to new visions of what is possible and invent a future where we can all contribute.
Push has a history of staring the conference with performance art and this year was no exception. Jenni Wolfson presented the first segment of her one woman show "Rash" about her experience in Rwanda documenting human rights abuses for the UN. A video of one of her performances is above. She had a very powerful message how about the randomness of your place of birth can have such an impact on your destiny. The show was painful to watch because it laid in front of the audience the bare truth about how ugly humans can become, when teachers can murder students and nuns can slaughter church members simply because of ethnicity.
Following Jenni was Dan Wilson, a songwriter and artist, who performed a variety of his songs including his hit "Closing Time", which was written to celebrate the impending birth of his daughter. Dan also wrote "Not Ready to Make Nice" for the Dixie Chicks. His beautiful messages of hope and possibility were a startling juxtaposition to Jenni's show.
The opening was an important reminder to me that art can expose the ugly side of human existence that we would rather ignore and can also show us our greatest possibilities. Both of those viewpoints are important as we look at how we can shape the future. Look for more posts this week as the conference progresses.