Henry Siu sees Hamilton as a tale of two cities. “Hamilton is a city of contrasts; dichotomies are present wherever you look. For example, juxtaposed within several city blocks are the Hamilton Convention Centre and Hamilton Place, home of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Hess Village, home of Hamilton’s entertainment district; James Street South, the Hamilton–Wentworth correctional facility and homeless shelters such as the Salvation Army and the Good Shepherd Men’s Centre.”
His work as a doctor along with Ainsley Moore in the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University has exposed them both to Hamilton’s most vulnerable citizens. Among these patients Moore says are, “…the frail, elderly and homeless.” The sad realities that they see every day have not dampened their belief that Hamilton has the potential for greatness. This belief inspired both Siu and Moore to organize a TEDx event in Hamilton this March 2nd.
TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) began as a conference in California in 1984. TED Speakers are encouraged to give lectures or “Talks” as a way to deliver fresh ideas and challenge conventional thinking. They are meant to inspire and at the very least, get people talking. TED is now an internationally recognized conference and millions around the world have watched TED Talks online. Although being an internationally recognized organization allows you to reach the masses, sometimes you just want to an idea to go local. That is where TEDx comes in. TEDx events are affiliated with TED but are completely independently organized. This allows communities like Hamilton to hold TED style conventions on a smaller scale.
Siu says “Our theme of Resiliency Through Innovation looks at how an individual or community can be strong in non–traditional ways... Hamilton’s rejuvenation is one example where local citizens are doing things to make their lives, and the lives of their neighbours that much stronger and that much better.” For many Hamiltonians especially living downtown, Hamilton’s rejuvenation can’t come fast enough. “...the downtown Hamilton core has [the] highest rate of high school drop– out, highest rate of childhood poverty and lowest median income. The statistics detailing how there are currently less than one tenth of the original jobs Hamilton once enjoyed in the mid–80s is a sobering reminder of the socioeconomic disparity the citizens of Hamilton face today.” In order to inspire action, Moore has booked speakers from a wide range of careers. “There will be seven speakers. Their backgrounds are diverse and range from performance and visual artists, to marathon runners, a media ecologist, municipal politicians, entrepreneurs, and physicians.”
Of all the TEDx speakers, Laura Hollick has probably one of the most unique careers. She is a self– described Soul Art Shaman. She owns her own studio on Bay Street North called Soul Art Studio. Soul Art is based on techniques of connecting with your soul and finding healing. She has developed these over the years through her own personal journey. Laura is an artist in every sense of the word. Her passion stems from her childhood. Her vivid imagination would allow her to dream up magical and different worlds which left a profound imprint on her life.
“As I grew up I learned how to make those worlds real through art. I learned how to paint, draw, make costumes, sets, all as a way to turn my imagination into reality.” But art isn’t just a tool for her childhood dreams. Laura says that she has experienced true physical and emotional healing through her work. “When I was a teenager I developed acne, which was a painful experience that made me want to hide. This activated a healing journey for me to find a way to clear my skin. On my quest for healing, I developed a way to creating art that enabled direct access with your soul and healing. I called this art Soul Art. It healed my skin.”
Laura developed a creative process she calls Body Mapping. It involves tracing your body onto a large sheet of paper. You take the shapes you see and begin to paint using those shapes to create your own artistic expression. The goal is for people “to decode their soul language and body wisdom.” After experiencing the power of healing in her life, she began to offer it to others. “I was so grateful and intrigued by this art process I was doing so I decided to start offering it to other people and see if they would have the same spiritual healing experience I had, and to my delight, they did!” So she had the spiritual connection to art and the lifelong passion, but what now? Like most people with a passion, Laura wanted to find a way to make a career out of it.
“I struggled initially when I made the decision I wanted to be a creative spiritual person in business. I didn’t feel like there were any role models or examples of people who were successful or even making a living just simply being themselves.” Ten years later, “I now run a successful multi–6 figure business based on my art, insights and creative processes.”
Laura is bringing her years of business experience and personal journey and artistic expression to her TEDx talk. Speaking to Hamiltonians about her life’s work and inspiring them is another affirmation of her journey. “For a number of years I pretended I was doing my own TED talk by standing alone in my studio, usually late at night when the moon seemed especially interested in my ideas, and practiced refining my message. Now that I’m actually doing a live [TEDx] talk, it feels like a dream transformed into reality; the shaman’s path at work.” Her talk is aptly named You are the Art. “I will be speaking about how to approach our lives, careers, and local and global environment from a creative perspective. I will be sharing how we can create our dreams by understanding how art works and how we can use art in our everyday life to transform not only our own lives but the world.”
Moore is hopeful that the seven speakers (Host – Hugh MacLeod, along with Tim Potocic, Kevin Browne, Gord Pauls, Phil Rose, Dr. Carys Massarella, Paul Johnson and Laura Hollick) this year will contribute to the re–birth of Hamilton by igniting and inspiring their audience. “...we hope this year’s TEDx will engage Hamiltonians in the acceleration of current works and the development of new projects that contribute to a resilient community.”
@ The Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts,
126 James S.