Are You Creating A Culture Of Self-Expression?

FloraIn March I had the privilege of spending a week in Buenos Aires, and to say it’s a fascinating city is like saying, having Jim Carrey and Hugo Chavez to dinner might be entertaining. While most people go on and on and on about their travels, there is one experience I wish to share that I think will give you goose bumps, just like it gave me.

Aside from all the “touristy” activity of open-air markets, empanada tastings (yum!), historical building walks and museum exhibits, I was invited to visit the private home and studio of the up-and-coming Argentinian artist, Florencia Giovagnoli.

Flora has been painting for more than a decade and is about to blossom on the art scene. With exhibitions from New York to Spain she is a rising star. I saw the evolution of her art first hand from her early days to pieces that were literally “drying on the rack” in her studio in the neighborhood of La Broca.

Her most recent works are reminiscent of Monet and Manet impressionism. Beautiful flowers: delicate, innocent, inviting. And scribbled over. Yes, scribbled, appearing as if her two-year-old daughter had grabbed a crayon and made her presence known. At first, I thought this might be exactly what happened so I delicately phrased my question to Flora. What is the thought behind the markings?

Her response is my penultimate Argentinian experience.

“There is a moment in time when you are learning to express yourself, but you don’t have the letters, “ Flora explained. “You don’t fully comprehend the use of language because you are too young, “ she said. “However, you are quite eager to express all that you want to say, all your ideas, because you have a great deal to share. There is a very small window of time, a moment of purity, of beauty, to express all that you are, before sadly, society tells you what you will express and how you will express it.”

Sitting on the floor, looking at her stunning works of painted flowers with a child’s innocent scribbling added, I got goose-bumps wondering, How many times has each of us gone to express our true selves, only to have our ideas or potential stifled by family, friends or a corporate culture focused on conformity? How many times has each of us wanted to share big, bold ideas or pieces of ourselves, but were limited or confined in our self-expression?

It’s a very short moment before our true, expanding selves are conformed into something… less. Flora poses a question for all leaders: How might we create an environment (a culture) with more moments that foster greater self-expression?

To expanding and igniting brilliance. ¡Salud!

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