Creativity & Innovation Newsletter, Block 2, Week 4

View this email in your browser

Block 2, Week 4, 2021

“Why is creativity important for culture? Because it is the main engine behind cultural change and transformation. Whenever old solutions no longer apply or new problems emerge, creativity is called upon to add, change, enrich, simplify or purely to beautify the world. And it is not only the ‘few great creators’ who play a role in this process but each and every one of us.” 

                   –   Vlad Petre Gläveanu “Creativity as Cultural Participation

Welcome to Kris Stanec as Faculty Fellow in Creativity & Innovation 2021-2022.

Interview with SethWilson Gray, (‘19)

Could you speak a little bit about the different roles you’ve had at Colorado College and your time here?  

I’m a CC alum. I was a Psychology major and minored in Theory and Practice of the Arts. When I was a 4th year, trying to figure out what to do next, I saw a career counselor who gave me a battery of tests and said, ‘Creativity is one of your biggest strengths. You need a job that really involves creative aspects.’ I also wanted to work directly with people. Teaching at that point in time had a lot of flexibility to explore pedagogies and put curricular pieces together yourself – this was before standards and testing.

I’ve always utilized arts integration when I teach, because of the capacity for the arts to pull people into conversations, engage them in learning, and increase access to content. I started teaching a class in the MAT program at CC on Arts Integration, which became a course on curriculum design for undergraduates as well. I’ve taught many other Education courses, including one that I developed as a Cornerstone Arts Initiative course, ED210: Power of the Arts.

As Director of Education at the Fine Arts Center Museum, I received funding through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop a project called Multiple Narratives.  This program shifts the art historical approach of looking at art to a more inclusive pedagogy that supports students’ identity development, fosters authentic relationships and values students’ lived experiences and cultural knowledge. I’ve continued to research how this pedagogy works in various contexts with children through adults.

I believe that part of the culture at CC encourages people to try new things.  Course development grants and other funding opportunities provide resources and permission to cultivate and apply innovative ideas.

What’s exciting to you about your role in C&I this year? What do Creativity and Innovation as broader themes mean to you when it comes to your role this year? 

I’m so excited to be working with faculty and students across disciplines.  I spend time with professors to converse about their course goals; then we work together to construct a creative component that aligns with their objectives.

I enjoy divergent thinking and the challenge of connecting abstract concepts to something concrete. Students talk about how motivating it is to have the freedom to generate ideas.  Granted, it takes a certain kind of risk, often putting oneself in a vulnerable position to share thoughts that might seem outlandish. The creative process can feel unsettling. But the discoveries that come from relating random ideas to prior knowledge can lead to unique and meaningful learning. There is power in understanding that failure is simply part of a process and that iteration leads to better outcomes. Creative methods and approaches, while maybe uncomfortable at first, have a real way of freeing us from the ways of thinking that we’re locked into for whatever reason.

When people understand that they can bring their whole selves to discussions,
assignments, or group work, collectively more opportunities and options arise. When
we compassionately listen to each other, we increase the realm of possibilities based on the fact that each unique person brings different ideas.

What are some of your hopes and dreams for the academic year when engaging students, and what is something that you want to accomplish?

I have questioned how to provide sustainable creative components for courses, in addition to the single visits I often have with a class.  Trying to go beyond one visit was an issue in my community-based learning courses as well as school visits at the Fine Arts Center. I’m interested in how we can create something that can be used throughout an entire course, as well as how we can provide an option for students to utilize creative methods across blocks, across semesters, and across disciplines.

As an educator of art and creativity, and now innovation, do you engage in any creative practices yourself?

Yes, all the time. I explore various crafts, making things that are basically for myself.  I find such joy when I try new processes. For example, I took a workshop that Melanie Yazzie offered a few years ago when she was a visiting artist. She taught printmaking with gelli plates and stencils. I’m enamored by the process and am experimenting with the materials to get different results.

I often ask myself, “What more?” as opposed to “what else?” There’s a distinction. Years ago, Jessica Hunter introduced me to Visual Thinking Strategies, which repeatedly asks us ‘What more we can find when we look at a work of art?” I use that as kind of an underlying philosophy in many ways; ‘what more’ can be found?

I actually collect ampersands in a variety of sizes and materials; they remind me to think about ‘what more.’ I play with all sorts of mediums, which then becomes a creative challenge. How can I take random, disparate methods, and put them together? I can find such flow when immersed in the textures, shapes, and colors of beads. I then try to figure out how to combine them with copper pipe, ceramic pieces, or gelli prints until I find something that feels pleasing to me.

Do you have advice you’d like to share with the Colorado College community at this time, whether it be in regard to creativity or something  else that you find important?

I hope that we as a campus learn how to sit in things that are uncomfortable and remain open to possibilities. We need to figure out how to  hold space for things beyond our own experience. The creative process can help us practice this capacity.  It is exciting to think about where we could then go as a community.   So, my advice – to myself as well –  is to risk failure, to be vulnerable and to create a wide variety of options as a way to begin to address challenges.

Creativity & Innovation’s Innovators in Residence Connect Creative Minds

Jessica Hunter, Associate Director of Creativity & Innovation

Since its inception in 2016, the Innovator in Residence program has quickly become one of Creativity & Innovation’s signature programs. Our goal is to embed creative professionals from a range of fields deeply into the Colorado College community. The residency is flexible in duration and scope. It allows for structured and spontaneous teaching opportunities and collaborations with faculty, staff, and students. We’ve hosted a diverse group of Innovators who represent a wide variety of professional and personal backgrounds, including activists, artists, architects, designers, filmmakers, scientists, and spiritual leaders. Across this diversity, Innovators share characteristics of flexibility, curiosity, and the desire to work collaboratively.

As part of their residencies, Innovators work closely with faculty to develop activities and assignments that support students to engage their creativity and make dynamic connections between ideas. Notable curricular collaborations in our first five years include: sound composer Reiko Yamada working with professor Sara Hanson’s Molecular Biology students to translate yeast RNA into musical scores; game designer and theater professional Janani Balasubramanian working with Physics professor Natalie Gosnell and a student group to iterate and test an astrophysics-based immersive theater piece; Dr. Bon Ku discussing principles of Heath Design Thinking with students in science and art classes; and interdisciplinary artists Senga Nengudi, Eddy Kwon, Crow Nishimura, and Joshua Kohl conducting workshops that explore individual and collaborative creativity for students in multiple courses.

We are delighted to welcome our Innovators in Residence for academic year 2021-2022. For more information about upcoming Innovators or explore ideas for collaborations, please contact Associate Director Jessica Hunter at or 719-389-7083 

Michelle Gabrieloff-Parish (’00)
Block 3, 2021

Michelle  has over 20 years of experience uniting the fields of sustainability, justice, culture, nature, and art. She serves on the leadership council for the food justice organization “Frontline Farming.” She is the founder of “Candelas Glows,” a community group that raises awareness about the nuclear superfund site Rocky Flats. She served as a US delegate for the Colorado River in Mexico and is a former US State Department BoldFood fellow in Uganda. While Assistant Director for Energy and Climate Justice at the University of Colorado Boulder, Michelle  created projects that partnered students and low-income community members for sustainability projects and green job training. She co-founded the “Just Transition Collaborative” to advocate for equitable climate policies in local governments. As Senior Program Manager for Climate Innovation at Movement Strategy Center,
Michelle  facilitates community-driven planning using transformative community and ecological design tools. Her poetry was featured in the Jaipur Literary Fest and at the Joanna Macy Center. She is also a featured poet in “The Dreamer” room at Meow Wolf, Denver. 

For more information, visit: 

Warm Cookies of the Revolution Community almanac on Food Justice 

Teresa Cavazos Cohn ‘96
Block 4, 2021

Teresa is an Associate Professor in the University of New Hampshire’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment and a climate change fellow at the Harvard Divinity School. She is also a co-founder of the “Confluence Lab,” which  brings together scholars in the humanities and sciences with community members to engage in environmental issues in rural communities. Teresa  is a geographer
specializing in hydrosocial relations, emphasizing Tribes of the Western United States, human dimensions of fire, science communication, and the environment. Her research and outreach projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and Milkweed Press. Teresa earned her BA from Colorado College, an M.S.c from Schumacher College, and a Ph.D. from Montana State University.  


Jessica Lynne
J Block, 2022

Jessica is a writer and art critic. She is a founding editor of ARTS.BLACK, an online journal of art criticism from Black perspectives. Her writing has been featured in Art in America,  The Believer,  Frieze, and The Nation.  She is the recipient of a 2020 Research and Development award from the  Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and a 2020 Arts Writer Grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation. She is currently working on a collection of essays about faith, art, and the US South.  Her podcast series Care + Criticality animates the various forms that criticism may occupy in contemporary art.

For more information, visit: 

Myra Jackson, Mindfulness Resident
Blocks 5 & 6, 2022

Myra Jackson, often described as a Renaissance woman, has enjoyed a diverse array of hefty careers as an Electrical Engineer, Organizational Development Professional, Systems Thinker, and Master Trainer. She has lived abroad and studied many of the world’s religious and spiritual traditions in service to her lifelong fascination with the belief structures and cosmologies that captivate people and inform their lives. She holds the title of Diplomat of the Biosphere awarded by Stockholm Resilience Centre. Linking local and global policy-making, she is a founding wisdom council member of the Gaiafield Project and Subtle Activism Network. She is also a senior advisor on Whole Earth Civics and Focal Point on Harmony with Nature with Geoversiv Foundation. As UN Permanent Representative in New York, Myra serves as the focal point on climate change for the Commons Cluster of NGOs. She recently facilitated Oprah Winfrey’s Belief series initiative as an official program of the United Nations hosted by the President of the General Assembly in October 2016.  

For more information, visit:!IOKdUj4ywK4mRHJ27ioDrhI5XnBzevo6JHihNyFmgrqinuoiMI98nPSDovsA==  

Erin Elder
Block 8, 2022

Erin Elder is an artist, curator, and writer guided by interests in land use, experimental collaboration, and non-traditional modes of expression. Her research-driven projects take highly participatory forms, working with a broad definition of art to bring audiences into a direct experience of particular places. Underscoring
Erin’s work is a commitment to the creative process and direct support for artists. From 2009 – 2013, she cooperatively founded and directed PLAND, an off-the-grid residency program near Tres Piedras, NM. From 2012 – 2015, she was the Visual Arts Director at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, where she curated 50+ exhibitions and many public programs. Under her direction, the program worked directly with artists on exhibitions of new work designed specifically for the unique gallery spaces at CCA.  Erin is contributing faculty at several universities and colleges and serves on several arts boards in Albuquerque.

For more information, visit:  

Queer Nature
Blocks 7 & 8 , 2022

Queer  Nature is an education and social sculpture project based on Arapaho, Ute, and Cheyenne territories that actively dreams into de-colonially-informed queer
‘ancestral futurism’ through mentorship in place-based skills with awareness of post-industrial/globalized/ecocidal contexts. Place-based skills include naturalist studies, handcrafts, “survival skills,” and recognition of colonial and indigenous histories of land and are framed in a container that emphasizes deep listening and relationship building with living and non-living earth systems. Co-envisioned by Pinar Ateş
Sinopoulos-Lloyd and So Sinopoulos-Lloyd, Queer Nature designs and facilitates nature-based workshops and multi-day immersions that are financially, emotionally, and physically accessible to LGBTQI2+ people and QTBIPOCs.

For more information, visit  

Alum Spotlight: Alana Aamodt and Anna Gilbertson

Momentix won the Big Idea in 2019 and are based in Denver. They make toy kits that use chain reactions to teach critical engineering and design skills to kids. In their current Kickstarter, they have far surpassed their goal. 

Momentix is continuing their exciting momentum with a feature on Westword. This article touches on the foundation of their idea, their product, as well as the importance it holds in our society. 

Read the article here!

Faculty Spotlight Interview with Liliana Carrizo

 Jessica Hunter, Associate Director Creativity & Innovation

I have been fortunate to work with many professors who teach innovative classes in my time at Colorado College. As a former CC student, I am frequently tempted to drop everything and join a class for the duration of the block. Professor Liliana
Carrizo’s CC100/120 course, Music, Food, and the Senses, is one such class.

In Blocks 1and 2, three C & I team members have had the opportunity to work with this class, which brings together ethnographic and literary studies
with acoustemology to examine the engagement of sound and human sensory systems across a range of global contexts. Over two blocks, students explore the sonic, visual, tactile, and culinary practices among different individuals and communities as a way of understanding how musical and culinary expression
intertwine with memory, migration, and resistance.

I sat down with Liliana to talk about the philosophies that undergird the course and how it intersects with her own research. I’m delighted to share excerpts from our conversation.

Jessica Hunter: What motivated you to develop this course?

Liliana Carrizo: It’s very inspired by what I write about and what I do as a researcher. Everything that I do is rooted in sensorial and musical embodiment, cultural understanding, and belonging. A lot of my research addresses how songs follow pathways of migration. You can write alternative histories of human movement and experience by following the paths of songs or recipes.  So, the idea for the course came from me asking myself, “Well, what if I applied that kind of lens of inquiry while working with students?”

JH:  How does the course unfold over two blocks?

LC: I begin the class by introducing students to ethnographic theory — I kind of front-load the course with that. And then, we take the theories and dig deep by
tracing the paths of recipes and songs in our own lives. This involves a lot of self-reflection, writing, and discussion so that we understand ideas and experiences intuitively and intellectually. This is really where I resonate with what you all do at Creativity & Innovation. I think that it is essential to create space for intuitive and creative understanding.

Once we’ve done a lot of internal work to figure out what these theories mean and how they play out in our own lives, we move it outwards. We start to ask, “What does community-responsive work look like in terms of ethnography? How do we apply the methods of listening we’ve learned as we take our lens outwards? What does it really mean to listen?” So, listening to other people, centering other voices, becomes
essential. And this is where we start bordering on social justice issues: how do we amplify the voices of marginalized communities?

In the third week of block 1 in collaboration with four different CC100 classes, we had a large event focused on music, food, and social justice. The event featured
the Chicanx bands Los Mocochetes and The Pink Hawks from Denver, who do a lot of work in musical education and social justice. And, we partnered with CC Professor Florencia Rojo and Food to Power, as well as the Mobile Arts Truck. Together we started to brainstorm and envision how we can reflect on music and foodways as forms of knowledge that can also serve as sites of resistance to protest systems of inequality and enact social change. What future possibilities do they allow us to envision beyond our current place of social inequality?

JH: What has excited you about this class so far?

LC: I’ve been pushing the boundaries of what we consider academic practice and constantly encouraging the students to take risks. I’ve tried to approach this from a place of respect and care. So, I’m always privileging vulnerability while supporting
students to step outside of purely analytical thinking and learning and embrace theory from an embodied perspective.

At the end of block 1, the students produced ambitious creative projects that
synthesized all that they’ve been learning, thinking, and feeling. The projects took a wide variety of forms, including an ethnographic audiobook, a synesthetic biography of David Bowie through a series of drawings, and the creation of a fictional ethnographic world accompanied by three original songs. The students really ran with the creative project!

I could sense in the early weeks that the students had some fear-based reactions to this open-ended creative project that engages the course’s theories. It was a big experiment because I also hadn’t done something like this before. It was extremely helpful to have the staff from Creativity & Innovation come in and help the students start to access their creative ideas. It got the wheels rolling.

JH: What is coming up in block 2?

LC: The CC120 portion of the class is a writing seminar in which we will continue to play with the ideas of compassionate listening and empathic ways of knowing to learn about the human condition. I see at the forefront of ethnographic disciplines like anthropology and ethnomusicology work that intersects with creative nonfiction. And I think that’s what’s helping to decolonize these disciplines because we’re
throwing away this antiquated idea of an objective knower who can tell a story from an outsider’s perspective. So, we will refer back to some of the questions we explored in block one: What does it really mean to listen and amplify the voices of people who don’t usually get to tell the stories? And what perspectives emerge when we make space for those stories to be told? Block two asks students to start looking deeply at those themes in terms of self-reflection in an even more concentrated way.

Ultimately, the goal is for students to produce a large body of written work by the end of the block that answers the question, “What does your life look like if told from the perspective of music and song?” It’s an auto-ethnographic dive deep, and it’s

JH: What do you hope the students will take away from this class?

LC: They may come out of this class excited to write an academic ethnographic paper, or they might also want to write a podcast or write a blog. I’m hoping that the course will offer them tools that are transferrable in a relevant way that will serve them. Most of these students probably won’t go to musicology grad school. Still, they will likely apply their skills to personal essays, blog posts, websites, memoirs, travel writing, literary journalism, or even cultural criticism.  So, I’m always asking myself, how can I apply the tools of the discipline in a way that’s helpful for the students, long-term? 

Posted inCreativity & Innovation, Email css.php