The Magic of Collaboration

This evening we talked about Collaboration: the one-plus-one-equals-threeness that happens when people work together….the magic of putting people together and not knowing the outcome.

In Collaboration we have the voices of wisdom from one responding to the wisdom of another.  Collaboration is a type of conversation between two minds, two hearts.

In fact, it is true that the Talmud is a type of collaboration — where scholars responded to the wisdom of those who had written before.   The Mishnah and the Gemara show us that every generation responds to the previous one…”responsa” literature.

This evening Pam brought an example of a piece which she created in collaboration with another textile artist.    Here she is showing her piece:

Pam Phillips Olson showing her collaborative piece...
Pam Phillips Olson showing her collaborative piece…

Next, Josh shared a poem “Suicide is Never Enough” and the accompanying collaborative illustration by Kurt Seligmann.   Both were quite moving.

"Suicide is Never Enough" by Kurt Seligmann
“Suicide is Never Enough” by Kurt Seligmann

Rabbi Andrea Steinberger shared with us some of the work which was a collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.   Keith Haring described their collaboration as “a physical conversation happening in paint instead of words.  Andy loved the energy with which Jean-Michel would totally eradicate one image and enhance another…”

Collaborative work of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat
Collaborative work of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat

We discussed that fact that it was probably very touchy for the two of them to work together — when one artist eradicates and changes the image of another….that there needs to be a certain degree of trust between the two artists in collaboration.

Which brings us to the story of Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish, talmudic scholars who worked in collaboration as scholars.  Rabbi Yochanan said that Resh Lakish, as a colleague, made him a better scholar.   He said of another man:  “You are not like Resh Lakish!  When I stated a law, Resh Lakish used to raise 24 objections, to which I gave 24 answers, which consequently led to a fuller comprehension of the law.”

We are, in fact, made better by our collaborators.

Bob Skloot made the point that in the theatre, every production is a collaboration of different types of artists:  actors, lighting and sound and set designers, musicians…it is an environment where a careful chemistry of collaborators results in a certain kind of magic.

And finally we left with this, from Josef Albers, sent in by Rachel: FullSizeRender 2


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