10/22/2012 05:08 pm ET Updated Dec 22, 2012

Digital Fire: Northwest Voices in the Arts, Books, and Business on Reinvention

While reinvention has been a constant undercurrent in American life, over the past several years, reinvention has coalesced into a diverse movement, taking place at all levels of society.

Businesses, people, and organizations are all involved in reinvigorating, redirecting, rebuilding, and reworking who they are and what they do.

The topic of reinvention is everywhere in American culture. Cultural shifts and economic forces have affected artists and entrepreneurs, people on the street and people in high-rise towers. When it becomes necessary, reinvention has been a driving cultural force throughout history, and now it's our turn. Individuals, companies, communities are in the process of reinventing who and what they are. We asked a few Northwest folks in the arts and business communities what reinvention means to them.

"I've been reflecting on what constitutes reinvention, since I recently decided to reinvent my life -- moving from New York back to the Northwest, where I lived for 20 years. In contemplating the move, I came to understand the distinction between invention and reinvention, between a movement forward and a backwards move, traveling back to something grounded and more enduring. Reinvention requires reflection. To reinvent implies that something once found now must be re-found, after having been lost or forgotten. Reinvention is part of the struggle between life and death, between a fixation only on youth and what's new, and an appreciation for what's old, even dying. And reinvention requires exploration of the scary border between the living and the dead. The American tendency, which is inherent in the DNA of the New World, is to fetishize the New, valuing invention and innovation over all that is old, including enduring truths. As the Modernists knew, a more resonant lasting value is found in reinvention, in value what is ancient and eternal, in finding a way to Make It New, as Ezra Pound put it."
Tree Swenson
Executive Director
Richard Hugo House

"For me, reinvention should be a slow and steady process--one that won't be startlingly obvious to viewers of my work. While I welcome change and all it brings, the idea of reincarnating myself and my artwork is a thoughtful progression that sometimes gives me a sense of fear of the unknown. On the other hand, it can be the invigorating charge I need to propel myself forward into newer, more unique thought processes."
Stacy Rozich
Visual Artist and Illustrator

"Focusing on Contemporary Art means keeping your eye on a moving target at all times. Being a dealer in art requires a constant reinvention, or at the very least a readjustment, of your eye and your aesthetic to stay current. Representing artists, rather than simply making exhibitions, conversely requires that one shifts more thoughtfully and slowly as one's focus changes. It's the difference between an obstacle course and a waltz."
Greg Kucera
Owner and Curator
Greg Kucera Gallery

"When my clients tell me they are powerless, hopeless, clueless or whatever -- while sipping from a quad-venti-no-foam-no-whip-mocha -- I know I'm speaking to an uptight human being who has health, energy, and some resources to call upon. Reinvention is not about coming back from the dead. Reinvention is choosing to say that you are standing at a fork in the road while being assaulted with a menu board of choices... "
Rags Madison
RentaButler to the Stars

"To remain relevant, reinvention needs to be in constant flux. It's about taking ideas accepted as the status quo and thinking outside the box to raise questions, poke holes, rearrange, and reframe them for the purpose of applicability, usability, and improvement. Quoting Neil Pert, '... changes aren't permanent, but change is.' For me, that maxim is part of what fuels the essence of reinvention."
Paul Sweum
Indexer and Technical Writer
Top Hat Word & Index

"Reinvention is a habit for me. I adapt and evaluate as a personal practice. In my work, I'm always searching for the "natural" system or pattern that works best in the present while imagining how it will endure into the future. It can mean resurrecting an old system or learning how to use an existing system differently. I move toward change like a moth to light. Sometimes it's impulsive and sometimes methodical, but it's consistently present and happening."
Barb Rowan
Web and Brand Designer

"Every single moment of this life is reinvention. Every cell in our bodies, every thought in our heads is a 're' of something that preceded it. And the 'first' whatever we conceive it was--a career, a poem, a relationship, a sculpture, an iPhone app--is only fixed and solid by the limitations of our own minds. What is unique to each moment, to each gesture of reinvention is determined by the freshness of eyes and faculties we bring to the breath, the task, the mind-moment."
Amy Darling
Acupuncturist and Health Educator

"For me, reinvention meant leaving a corporate career and pursuing a lifelong career of being a novelist. I had the realization that time is short, and I couldn't waste any more of it by playing small in the safe zone. It meant not settling for security in a dead end cul-de-sac, even if it was a financially successful career. I summoned the courage to show my real self to the world. I chose not to be an armchair traveler, but instead grabbed the paddle and headed off in a different direction, trusting I could handle the challenges along the way. Reinvention was redefining the meaning of success in my life, by using the measurement standard of my own happiness and fulfillment."
Kim Nathan