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  • Writer's pictureMichael Sales

Ray Elman: Anthropocene de Jour!

Anthropoceans are inquisitive. While rigid religiosity is doing everything it can to oversimplify our ever-unfolding multidimensionality of this era, Anthropoceans accept the excitement, confusion, and terror of a present with no center and a spacetime that is bent by light in many/all directions simultaneously.

Ray Elman is a vessel of this kind of curiosity.

Ray, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1967, is an accomplished artist, who founded ArtSpeak under the auspices of Florida International University’s Lee Caplin School of Journalism & Media in 2015. His work is currently on exhibit through March 3d, 2024 at the Jewish Museum of Florida.

In addition to its interviews with many brilliant and productive personalities across all aspects of literary, performing and visual arts, ArtSpeak also contains updates and reviews of activities designed to keep any Anthropocean current with Miami-Dade’s creative scene.

Seventeen editions of ArtSpeak have been published since its inception. Each one contains a well-produced recorded interview/conversation that bursts with the energy, inspiration and insight of talented people. Each deepens the consciousness, sensitivity and vulnerability of the reader/viewer.

Take for example, his extensive exploration of the life and work Al Jaffee, of his, which occurred when Al was 94. Al, probably best known for his work as a master cartoonist for MAD magazine for many years, who came to understand that his illustrations was a “visual language” that constituted an art form where the story is told with the pictures alone. His perception of his vocation foretold an understanding of the graphic novel as a “sequential art narratives that are the equivalent in form to prose novels.”

Ray estimates that he has conducted at least 500 interviews with artists. His ability to go deep with people from many walks of life reflects a competency that is a corollary of curiosity: the use of inquiry.

Like John Adams and other Enlightenment thinkers, Anthropoceans long to learn, to see beyond what they already know or think they know. Elman’s inquisitiveness is a relevant survival skill. It deepens us to be with someone else’s knowing. It keeps us flexible in the face of the future. By listening to others, we empty ourselves of our own biases and learn more about compassion.

ArtSpeak was originally entitled Inspicio. Inspicio is a Latin work which means “I look into, I inspect. I investigate.” A key ingredient of Elman’s Antropocean character is his interest in the other. His openness to life’s rich spectrum puts him in the center of the stage he’s created. And from his focus of attention on others, he enjoys connecting the “remarkable” people he meets to one another in an extensive network of talent.

Pollinators are investigators. Their inspicio makes them fascinated by “What is over there in that next mind?” That’s the kind of wonder that feeds life in the Anthropocene.

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