Stories can take many different forms. They can be verbal, written or visual. Have you ever watched people listen in rapt attention to someone telling a fascinating tale? Or perhaps you remember the excitement of being read your favorite picture book as a child. A great story is indeed a treasure and it lives on and on. How often have we heard the phrase "Once upon a time..."? Since the beginning of civilization, people have used stories to teach, persuade, and entertain. In an article recently published in Psychology Today, The Psychological Power of Storytelling, Dr. Pamela Rutledge defines stories as "pathways to our right brain" that "trigger the imagination". Stories help us to make meaning of life. They connect us to our larger self and to universal truths.
The renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915, depicted the stories of ordinary Americans over a span of 150 years. Curators, H. Barbara Weinberg and Carrie Rebora Barratt, selected over 100 paintings that expressed universal themes, including childhood, marriage, the family and the community. Painters illustrated these narratives through portraits, domestic scenes and rural and urban landscapes. Each of my paintings tells a story through the use of symbolism, abstracted forms and expressive color. For me, a picture is worth 1000 words!
Based on the belief that storytelling can help to build a better world, Jimmy Neil Smith, a former journalism teacher, founded the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, almost 40 years ago. Every October thousands of people from all around the world flock to the National Storytelling Festival there to hear and tell stories.
Like ripples in a pond, the stories we tell are never ending. They slowly become larger, reaching farther and farther. When they touch the shore, they reverse their direction and turn back to where they began. Our stories affect everyone and everything around us.