Last week I travelled to Edinburgh with my family for Thanksgiving. We were visiting a dear friend that have been living in Scotland for the last 3 years. After talking about family and holidays, our conversation progressed to the likes and dislikes of her new life. I was fascinated to hear her talk about the different habits she developed and how she had to learn to see things in a different way from where she was born and raised, Maryland. I was so exciting to see she was learning to adapt into the new Scottish culture by absorbing it and creating her own way of life that fits with the behaviors of her new community.
Of course I wanted to know everything about her new found life... after all, cultural exchange is one of my biggest passion!! What she missed the most, what she loved the most, how difficult it was for her to adapt... I was witnessing, first hand, how empowering and enriching it is to absorb a new culture.
This was an amazing trip and I truly enjoyed Scotland. On my way back, sitting in the plane with few hours to myself, I started to reflect on what it is that I really like about learning from other cultures. Is it the challenge to survive the expectations and turbulences that come with living within new ideals or is it the fascination I have for the psychological affect on someone that is conforming to something so different than what he or she was accustomed to?
What ever it is, there is still so much to be learn about this issue, specially now a days with all the controversy about immigrants and the negative connotation that comes with being different. So... last Sunday, after settling back home, I decided to research more about the importance of cultural diversity.
After watching a number of Ted Talks and reading several blogs and papers about the importance of diversity in our society, I realize how much more there is still to be learned....
These are some of my favorites Ted Talks:
Cross Cultural Communication | Pellegrino Riccardi
How Culture Drives Behaviors | Julien Bourrelle
Why Cultural Diversity Matters | Michael Gavin
And this is how I learned about.... Peaches and Coconuts!! A metaphor commonly used to describe different cultures.
Why peaches and coconuts?? Because peaches are soft, smooth and sweet on the outside but have a hard core, while coconuts are hard on the outside but sweet and liquid on the inside. A fun but effective comparison.
Now you are probably asking... what peaches and coconuts have to do with art?? A lot actually. Art also varies tremendously from place to place based on different cultures, habits and environments. For example, in northern countries, where winters are long and gray, artists tend to paint with a much more monotone palette compared to artists from southern countries where the sun shines almost everyday.
Now let's talk about art in Brazil, my native country... As you all know, I am a huge fan of Street Art, I can say that the strength and beauty of Street Art in Brazil, is caused by the pure representation, through vivid colors and strong lines, of the optimism and perseverance found in the Brazilian people. In other words... we are passionated people and it shows in our art.
The truth is, in the same matter that the cultural diversity gain is applied in life, it is also applied in the art world. There is no right or wrong way of doing art. There is no better or worse way. Art is just a representation of ideals, behaviors or moments in time. The more we can expose ourselves to different styles of art, the richer our lives will be and hopefully, we will become less judgmental and critics of what is foreign to us.
So go out there and learn something new about a foreign culture. In the end, you may enjoy it and start to see things in a different way.
"Strength lies in differences, not in similarities." Stephen Coven