Identity of Interbeing: 

Recognizing Difference and Seeing Ourselves

April 10 through April 25, 2006

Packer Collegiate Academy, Brooklyn New York

Project:  A multi-faceted process of reflection and action that included the collaborative development and creation of images by the Packer Collegiate community for the main courtyard space at the school.

- An exhibition in the school’s Shen Gallery that showcased documentation from the Identity of Interbeing Collaborative Project amongst a selection of other artworks that represent projects of social collaboration.

Theme: By creating spaces for participants to express their individual selves in an inclusive way, there is the manifestation of interbeing – recognition of difference in us that at the same  time shows our interconnectedness.

Concept: Identity of Interbeing was an interactive, multidisciplinary, experience that culminated in a large public work and gallery exhibition. Participants practiced expressing themselves and building community through a number of reflective, educational, and celebratory processes. All of the activities for fun and growth in the process of creating the public piece, as well as the final exhibition, were occasions for collaboration.

Social collaboration transcends individual privileges where separate expectations are replaced with equality, and collective self-interest. By creating experiences of dynamic demographics, with exercises that everyone can create in, there is a collective unification and support of new community that is inclusive in its being.  Joyful, inclusive existence exemplifies our individuality as well as our interconnectivity.   At the center of these exercises for positive shared experience is an artistic representation with the focus being the Packer Collegiate community.

Method: Participants from all three school divisions, as well as faculty, family, and friends were invited to contribute to the creation of this project.  The assignment for the parents and faculty was the same as the task for the students at all grade levels, administered through the art classes Monday April10 – Wednesday April 12 and Monday April 17 - Tuesday April 18. Participants were asked to contemplate what they are made of.  Inevitably this personal exercise in reflection contributed to the focus of the theme Identity of Interbeing: Recognizing our differences and seeing ourselves. 

Participants were given a sheet of mirrored paper to express what they are made of. The continuity of the paper and scale exemplifies the equality of the all participants, regardless of whether they were parent, faculty, or student.  The freedom of expression left to the participant upon the paper destined to exemplify differences that exist within the Packer community.

During the afternoon and evening of Wednesday April19 from 4PM to 6PM participants were further integrated into the art making process. Parents, caregivers, staff, students and teachers were invited to collaboratively project a series of drawings created from photos taken during the, “What am I made of?” assignment as well as selected copies of faculty, parent, and student creations.  The large main drawings were projected onto two large plywood walls 7’ X 18’ each, built in the main courtyard.  The collaboratively drawn images were accompanied by a selection of quotes from the assignment that related to the theme of recognizing our differences and seeing ourselves. This initial transfer of smaller drawings to the large-scale panels was a unifying experience that helped connect participants deeply to the project as well as serving as an engine for community healing, building, and joy. Music and food added to the celebration.

On Friday April 21, the Identity of Interbeing project crescendoed with a celebratory session of coloring, personal dialogue, and community connection. Rotating mixed-age groups, including Lower School classes during their regular garden time, collaboratively colored in the garden wall drawings and text that had been generated and projected the previous days. 

The final outdoor product of this project were large collaborative colored drawings of images of the Packer Collegiate Community and a selection of large quotations. This project aimed to empower the entire school community by beautifying Packer with art works that featured images of themselves and their voices that they were directly involved in creating.

Day of Dialogue and Reflection

On Monday April 24, scheduled classes reconvened for guided writing and talking about the project and what we learned about each other and ourselves. These combined class group dialogues were a way to contemplate the experience more deeply, and complete the pedagogical cycle of ‘introduce, study, and recall’ to enhance learning. 

Concentric Circle Reflection

On Tuesday April 26, classes, teachers and staff slowly circled the garden,  beginning at the main door entrance and walking in the two directions of the community made artwork.  TALL teachers helped give directions and focus to the walk.  Instructions were sent beforehand so teachers could prep their classes.  As the circles moved past the walls, participants were guided to take a good look at what we've created and perhaps note details that strike them in some way.  As the two lines of collaborators moved past each other in the larger part of the garden, participants were invited to reflect on their surroundings and each other.  This activity was done in silence to lend extra focus and reflection.

The Carol Shen Gallery Exhibition

On Tuesday April 26 the Shen Gallery Opening was a celebration with music, food, and more social collaboration.  The exhibition featured documentation of the Identities of Interbeing project including all of the mirrored pieces created by the Packer Community, photos taken by Packer community photographers, video taken by Packer community videographers, and writing by everyone.  A special wall drawing made from the collaborative coloring day in the courtyard was also in the gallery which attendees of the opening colored in together.  Large spaces from the gallery out to the main hallway were prepared with paper where attendees could continue to reflect on what we are made of with drawings and words about what we are.


Identity of Interbeing: 

Recognizing Our Differences While Seeing Ourselves

Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn New York

Project Albums

Slideshow Narrative

Identity of Interbeing

Identity of Interbeing

Student created video

by Shea Reister ’07 and George Pierot ‘07

Student Audio Reflections

  1. 1.Packer Reflections 1.0.mp3

  2. 2.Packer Reflections 3.0.mp3

Project Links

  1. The Packer Collegiate Institute: Brett Cook: Identity of Interbeing