'Souls of Wisdom' by Neil Seligman opens at Google HQ in Dublin this September where it will be seen by the leaders of the conscious business movement as they gather for the first Wisdom 2.0 European Summit. This is the story of how this unique exhibition of Soul Portraits came to be.
It all began with a meditation...
"Close your eyes. Listen closely. Where is your energy drawing you next...?"
It was the end of a fourth day of packed programming at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco where a series of talks, workshops and classes had left me exhausted but deeply inspired and heartened by this gathering of conscious business enthusiasts. Soren Gordhamer, the key visionary and founder of Wisdom 2.0 guided us into this final moment of reflection.
As I closed my eyes and followed Soren's instructions, a set of images gradually came into focus. I breathed deeply as a series of familiar yet unknown portraits arose in my mind's eye. The images seemed somehow to be entwined with the conference itself. Soren continued...
"Whatever image, thought or feeling comes, ask yourself: What is my next practical step?"
I contemplated the prospect of offering to show my work at the next Wisdom 2.0 conference. Intuitively I felt that my next step was to ask Soren if he would be my first portrait subject for the exhibition. I plucked up my courage and joined the line of fans who had flocked to the stage to thank him at the close of the day.
To my delight, Soren spent some time chatting with me and agreed to a Soul Portrait shoot. (Click here to learn more about my Soul Portrait process.) As I flew home to London, I wondered where this exciting project might lead, and now, five months and five Soul Portrait shoots later, I am excited to say that the exhibition prep nears completion.
Having outlining my proposal with both Google and Wisdom 2.0 in the Spring, the work began in earnest in June with a return trip to California where I photographed Soren in Santa Cruz. It was wonderful to have time to speak at length with Soren about his vision for the conference and to share my own thoughts on the exhibition and more widely, on the growth of mindfulness in the UK.
I then travelled on to the spectacular Esalen Institute (which I have dreamed of visiting for years) where the team were running a workshop: 'Wisdom 2.0 Unplugged'. It was amongst the beauty of the magical trees and on the rugged cliffs looking out over the Pacific Ocean that I photographed Michelle Stransky (Wisdom 2.0 Conference Director) and Sachi Doctor (a Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher and Wisdom 2.0 regular). On my drive back to San Francisco I completed the Californian shoots in Santa Cruz at the beautiful home of Christine Barrington (Wisdom 2.0 Conference Host/Announcer).
The fifth and final portrait took me to the sprawling Google HQ in Dublin where I worked with Alfred Tolle who has been a key voice within Google advocating welcoming Wisdom 2.0 to Ireland. Indeed, the Dublin event will be the first time that Wisdom 2.0 has ever left the US and brought their vision of mindfulness in the digital age to our European shores. This signals, I believe, an important and exciting development in business consciousness which fascinates me both as an artist and as an advocate of both mindfulness and conscious business. (I left my practice as a civil barrister to create The Conscious Professional, a coaching and training consultancy that supports corporate clients with mindful coaching and education.)
It is my intention that the exhibition should reflect the true nature of the Wisdom 2.0 European experiment by representing all aspects of the event from speakers to delegates, organizers and hosts.
Through my art I seek to demonstrate that we are more than we imagine and that what we present to the world is just the tip of the iceberg. I believe our consciousness has depths and complexity, wisdom and beauty that often remains unseen.
In the same way that the conscious business movement seeks to uncover a deeper relationship between capitalism and values, in my art I seek to reveal deeper truths in my subjects: those truths that live beyond the surface of our human form.
At its essence, my work is both a study and celebration of human potential. It is my hope that the exhibition forms a fitting backdrop to a conference that seeks to invite businesses to re-imagine themselves mindfully and asks professionals to step purposefully into a more conscious and compassionate future.
To view the final set of exhibition images, please click here.
Souls of Wisdom by Neil Seligman will debut at the Wisdom 2.0 Europe Summit at the Google Foundry in Dublin and runs from Sept 16th-18th. The exhibition will then travel to San Francisco in February for Wisdom 2.0 2015.
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