An Interjection Of Creativity: Spokewoven

An Interjection Of Creativity: Spokewoven

Artists' perspectives series - Part 1

Spokewoven's Genga is truly an inspirational artist; her giant dreamcatchers are sure to catch your eye as well as your dreams. Not only is she innovative and talented, but she is also immensely insightful. She's a college graduate whose life took a dramatic turn toward fulfilling a lifestyle of creativity. Her story of letting the magic of creativity take over and become her career is thought-provoking, and it makes you wonder about your meticulously planned out career path. I was fortunate enough to ask her a few questions in order to gauge her perspective on the importance of creativity in everyone's lives.

Stephanie Haenn: I’ve been admiring your work for a few years, now — from afar. It is a pleasure to finally get to talk to the creative mastermind behind the massive dreamcatchers. Your work is visually captivating and spiritually inspirational. Where did you get the inspiration to create giant dreamcatchers?

Genga: You are so kind. Thank you for your really lovely words. I guess almost 8 years ago now, I lost my job. It was literally the job I thought I'd spend the rest of my life doing and then, all of sudden, it was just gone. I was in complete despair. A black hole. It was awful. I couldn't imagine myself ever moving on. At the same time, my best friend, Pamela Love, was launching her first jewelry collection and doing an installation at Milk Studios in NYC. She sat me down, and basically told me to pull myself together- I was too talented to wallow away and she said I want you to make me the biggest Dreamcatcher in the world for my presentation. I had no clue how to even begin -- but something guided me. It took me several days to figure out the weave (and it wasn't very good haha) but I put my whole heart into that piece. For Pam and for myself and for the scared art that I could feel was already healing me. That was the first one. It changed my life. It saved my life. It was what started me on a new path and was the beginning of what I see very clearly now as my true identity.

SH: The traditional Native American purpose of dreamcatchers is to capture nightmares. As an artist, you have the liberty to define your work. Do you intend any purpose for your pieces beside their aesthetic value? Do you think that if your clients use your art outside of the realm of traditional Native American intent for dreamcatchers that they are guilty of cultural appropriation?

Genga: What is amazing about the experience of making these pieces is that the vision is completely collaborative with every client. There are some people who have trouble with rest or nightmares, but there are also people who want to celebrate the life or death of a loved one, pay homage to a friend or mentor, cherish a new born baby and protect them. It is always a unique vision and there is always something very sacred and personal in each piece.

SH: On your website, you say that making dreamcatchers is “cathartic and healing and full of growth and spiritual connection.” It sounds like you truly love what you do. Did you always want to be an artist growing up? Could you explain the catharsis making dreamcatchers affords you?

Genga: I wish I was so cool to have grown up wanting to be an artist haha. I think I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader? I was born in the 70's and grew up in the 80's and 90's. I ended up really moving towards literature and creative writing in my college years and had decided I was going to be a screenwriter when I graduated. I applied to graduate schools and got into the Masters Film program at Boston University. I guess in hind sight I always liked to do creative things- but I never really honed in on it, because it just wasn't realistic. I have very pragmatic parents who sort of weaned me in a practical direction rather than a dreamy one. Not that I have any resentment about that. I believe these things happen to you at exactly the right moment. I have worked my butt off and I still do - working a full time executive level day job and having this beautiful part of me to explore and grow in the other time.

When I was in film school I always dreamed of being like Maya Deren. Queen of the avant-garde, master of cool. And I was really good at watching and critiquing films, but when it came to making them, I don't know that I had that "thing" that makes you great. That vision. It was a very expensive lesson to learn, but I wouldn't change a thing about my decisions. Graduate school shaped my perspective in a way that would never have happened anywhere else.

SH: I first came across your work when flipping through Foam Magazine on the beach, the vibrant colors of a massive dreamcatcher tugging at my vision. Tucked into the corner of the page boasting a spread on Mara Hoffman, perched your work. The image stuck with me, and even inspired me to learn how to make my own dreamcatchers, though they are not nearly as beautiful as yours. The article didn’t mention the beautiful dreamcatcher decorating Hoffman’s office, so it took me a little while to finally find out who the artist was. I later put a name to the dreamcatcher when I found one of your pieces on the Urban Outfitters website. Your collaborations are always beautiful. Do you have a favorite collaborator?

Genga: I'm sure your Dreamcatchers are awesome! I've loved every collaboration I've done -- there has always been a lot of learning and vision. And a shared vision is always opens new perspectives. I did love using Mara Hoffman's fabrics. That was very cool.

SH: Your work always includes natural elements such as rocks or feathers. What is your favorite material to incorporate into your dreamcatchers?

Genga: My favorite materials are the hand dyed fabrics, crystals and arrowheads. I love to really get dirty making a piece and I dye the fabric in the bath tub (my husband helps me too) and we get just covered. The bathroom turns that color and we are basically enveloped and living in the color of the client's vision. It's kind of wild. And I love the stones. They have such power and meaning. I love working with people to create the perfect balance of crystals and stones on their piece.

SH: As a college student who isn’t studying art, it can feel suffocating to be learning solely through books. I often crave a creative outlet and dream for an artistic purpose. Obviously, your dreamcatchers invoke a yearning to dream. What advice would you give to young, creative dreamers?

Genga: Let your dreams be boundless and undefined. Let them break the rules in your brain.

SH: On a more serious note, college students are often active advocates of social reform and active participants in political discourse. Do you think creativity plays a role in the pressing movements of our nation?

Genga: Absolutely! I think creativity is crucial in terms of crafting solutions to our constantly evolving world. From environment to education to equality, health and economy - creative perspective and vision is what will take us into the future successfully and full of growth. I think the amazing thing about creating is that from ideation to completion the object is changing and layering -- morphing into whatever it is that it will become. Allowing your mind to move with that process is what I believe adds all those levels of truth that guide us to form our beliefs and passions.

SH: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. You are truly admirable and inspirational!

This is the first installment of a series of articles emphasizing college students' need for creative satisfaction. The purpose of this series is to derive an inkling of inspiration for busy college students in order to drive home the assertion that there is more to life than constantly having your nose in your textbook.

Cover Image Credit: One Kings Lane

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18 Ways The Disney College Program Destroys You

"I can only hope we never lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse" - Walt Disney

The Disney College Program, three little words that may or may not forever change your perspective of the world. Working for Disney has been my dream since I was a little kid. That’s all I ever wanted to do with my life-- to become a part of the magic. It wasn’t just because it’s Disney World, the most magical place on Earth. It's because I truly admire everything that this company stands for. Disney is all about bringing families and friends together, creating memories that will last a lifetime and sprinkling a little pixie dust over this magical place that I’ve called home for eleven months. I knew all of this when I received that “Congratulations!” email. Excitement rushed through my veins . The world of possibilities had finally opened its door for me. What I didn’t know, was what those possibilities truly meant, until post DCP depression kicked in. It's a real thing my friends.

1. You are always going to be an extremely friendly and approachable person.

No matter where you are or who you are talking to, you can't help to smile. You always carry a welcoming vibe with you, no matter what situation you are placed in. Working for Disney taught you how to have the patience of a Saint when it comes to dealing with people. You learned that the best way to communicate is listening to everyone with an open mind, even if they’re screaming in your face about Test Track being out of FastPasses.

2. You are constantly finding hidden Mickeys in the real world.

Admit it, your mind creates hidden Mickeys out of almost every random three circle formation. You can’t help it. You have Disney on your mind all the time.

3. You are FULL of Disney Park fun facts.

Did you know that there are 11,324 triangles that make up Spaceship Earth?!

You love sharing your vast pool of knowledge of random Disney Park fun facts. Sometimes even when people don't care about it, you just have to talk about all the things you learned as a CP.

4. You also may speak ride spiel.

“We're not gonna make it, we're not gonna make it"- Dinosaur at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

When you work for Disney, you live and breath Disney. You couldn't even count how many times you've been to the park, even just to hub grass and chill or ride the People Mover four times in a row. Those spiels were a part of your everyday life. You know when you are riding Hunted Mansion with a boatload of cast members when everyone in the stretch room whispers, "I am your host, your ghost host". Going to the park almost every day is a part of CP culture. Accidentally referring to ride spells still sometimes slips into your daily conversation. Did you really do the college program if you don't know at least one ride spiel?

5. You constantly feel the need to get down the small child's level and talk to them about their favorite Disney characters.

"Hi Princess! My, you look dashing today, what Kingdom did you travel from?!"

What you would do to get back to the days when you were paid to sit on the ground to talk to a child dressed up as Cinderella. You see a child at your real world job and you feel the need to ask them about the about their favorite Disney movie. You catch yourself accidentally referring to people as princess in the real world, but it instated of the magic it used to produce, they look at you like you’re a crazy person. *sigh*

6. If your friends hear you say, ”So this one time in Disney…" one more time they may punch you in the face.

OMG-- this reminds me of this one time in Disney when...*insert story of an amazing day you and your Disney fam had here.*

You can’t help it, every single day was filled with an adventure during your CP. You want to share your stories with everyone you encounter. It's like word vomit. The second something reminds you of your CP there is no stopping you. Your friends back home may either get really annoyed or end up learning everything you did when you had free access to Disney World.

7. Boy do you miss the days when Mondays were happy.

"We love you Mondays, we do."

For some who were into the social scene, you blankly gaze out your window on a Monday night wondering what county you would have been playing at Son On The Beach. You watch your remaining CP friends' Snapchat stories and think to yourself, "Anzacs VS. Gayllerie!? Ugh, must have been a good game." You miss the days when your only struggle was to make it out of work on time to get to Happy Mondays. Your friends back home wonder how you are so freakishly good at flip cup. It’s a CP thing.

8. 90% of your best friends are long distance.

Skype dates are essential.

You created bonds with people from all over the world during your CP. You celebrated holidays with these people. You spent every single day with them during your time in Florida. Your program would never be as magical if it wasn't for the amazing people you met here. Some of these people turn into your life long best friends-- even if they currently reside 12 hours ahead of you. There isn't a day that goes by that you don’t think about you CP BFFs. When they say you will meet the most amazing people you will ever interact with working for Disney, they were not kidding. These people are even more than friends to you, they are family. If it means staying up till 2AM to Skype with your old roommate, who now lives on the other side of the world, it doesn't even cross your mind how late it is. Catching up with them is always worth it.

9. You probably have roughly 500 "I'm Celebrating" buttons.

"Happy squad-iversary!"

You found every excuse in the book to rock an "I'm Celebrating" button when you and your squad hit the parks. "I'm celebrating ERs" was a great one to sport when you got off work early. The button days were the special days. You could probably fill an entire cork board with all of the buttons you collected over your CP. Thank goodness for that, you'll have a tangible memory of those magical days for a lifetime.

10. The clock strikes 3:00PM and you know the Festival Of Fantasy Parade is strolling out of Frontier Land.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the time has come to take your places” -The Festival Of Fantasy Parade.

You continuously catch yourself looking at the clock around 3PM and feeling a little empty inside. To all the days before work when you watched that parade with your roommates, you were the greatest. You can always spot a cast member as “dreams that glow” blur down Main Street. They are usually the ones dancing along and singing as their favorite floats pass by. What you would do to relive those days.

11. You know a lot about the world and the people it's made up of.

I’d be real keen to learn about your culture over some Maccas, eh.

You know to never tell an Australian their accent sounds like a Kiwi's or visa-versa. You can spot the difference from miles away. You’ve learned the lads from down under are some of the funniest people you’ll ever interact with, and there are in fact, no kangaroos in New Zealand— just wallabies. You know that the people from Spain and Brazil are usually down for some fun and it's always a good time to kick back with your friends from France or The Netherlands. It's true that the Italians are loud and outspoken, in the best way possible. The people from Japan are simply the some of the sweetest. You meet so many people from all over the world and learn so much about their culture. You get more of a feel for all of the greatness the world is made up of than any textbook could ever explain.

12. You could draw a map of Magic Kingdom blindfolded.

“Nearest FastPass kiosk?!” “Down the pathway to the left!

Not only is Disney World your home, but you know every square inch of it. You could still probably give someone directions to the nearest quick service restaurant of your location, from wherever you are currently sitting in the world.

13. Applying for jobs? Disney always makes you stand out.

“Wow, you worked for Disney World? Tell me more about that!”

Your resume stands out among the thousands. Potential employers want to hear about your Disney College Program experience and you are over the moon to share. You tell them about the days where you immersed guests into the theme of your location and all of the magic you made. Working for the number one entertainment company is something to be proud of.

14. You are constantly checking airline prices to reunite with your roommates and get back to the place that started it all.

There is nothing better than reuniting with your Disney family. Your most visited web pages are airlines sites. You count the days where you can rule the parks again with your favorite people by your side. You can't help but to run to them in the middle of MCO with tears in your eyes and magic in your heart, ready to create even more memories together. You know you found forever friends in them, it's never goodbye— it's see ya real soon.

15. You have a strong emotional attachment to certain rides of shows.

"The best part is, you'll never run out of wishes"- Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.

There are some shows and rides that take you right back to the days where Walt Disney World was your usual hang out spot. Some of those shows have so much more meaning to you and the magic you made. You tend to get a little teary eyed watching them when you visit. Even when your CP is over, the magic lives on in your soul.

16. Disney is not just a vacation spot to you, it’s your home.

You feel at ease here. You may have even found who you are and who you aspire to be here. It’s a special place to you that holds so much magic. Going back feels familiar. You never feel like an outsider here. Walt Disney World really is your home and it welcomes you right back every time you return.

17. People who know you before your College Program say you've changed.

You're more outspoken, you are confident in yourself and you carry on with pride. Not to mention your work ethic and customer service skills are outstanding. You believe in things and the people around you. You believe in magic and that's all thanks to the Disney College Program.

18. It was the best 4 months - 1 year of your life and you would do anything to relive just one more day of being a CP.

"While no one knows for sure what we'll see or do. I do know it will be quite an adventure, an adventure that we'll take and make together. See you in the future"- Spaceship Earth.

If you were given the opportunity to put on those extreme high-waisted polyester grandpa pants and that florescent shirt that was probably eight sizes too big for you— you’d do it in a heartbeat. Despite the long hours and blazing sun, sometimes your life felt like a dream. Your time spent working for the mouse will forever be your most magical days, as the Disney College Program was the best opportunity of your entire life.

Cover Image Credit: Dana Saccoccio

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5 Ways You Can Stop Producing so Much Trash

We produce a lot more trash than you think, until you start paying attention to your actions.


One of my major goals this year is to do more to save the planet as well as animals. I have already been vegetarian for three years. and I'm plan to stay vegetarian, but I want to have a more plant based diet. As well, I want to start reducing the amount of trash I produce. Not only because I realize just how drastically our trash is affecting wildlife, but also because I think having to take out your trash twice a week is way too much trash!

1. Bring recyclables to a recycling center or reuse them around the home!


This is something I want to start doing! I always get take out food and throw away the containers, when I could be using those containers to carry my lunch everyday! Also, I want to start collecting my plastic water bottles and taking them to the recycling center on campus instead of just throwing them away

2. Invest in a reuseable water bottle


This would actually fix my water bottle problem. I need to invest in a nice, reuseable water bottle that I can refill, rather than throwing away 3-4 water bottles a day. Amazon has a lot of varieties of these bottles ranging from inexpensive to expensive, cool designs, and even one that holds snacks.

3. Reuseable Straws


This is a great addition to your new reuseable water bottle! Like trash, you don't realize how much you use (and throw away) straw, until you actually start to keep count. I thought i didn't use straws at all because I never bought them in my life, but then you go out to eat (straw), you go to Starbucks (straw). Having a glass straw is actually really useful to reduce your trash, in cases when you wish you had a straw but don't, and sanitary purposes. Those straw sitting out at Starbucks, are they really that clean?

4. Donate old/unwanted clothes


This is something I already do. I go through my drawers and closet once a year, and just put all the clothes I haven't worn all year, or just don't want into a garbage bag. I'm usually able to fill at least one (gallon) garbage bag with clothes to take to Goodwill!

5. Use actual plates instead of paper plates


This is another huge mistake of mine! I hate doing dishes, so I try to buy paper plates to make less dishes, but in the end I'm producing more and more trash! I'm convinced the reason I have to take out my trash so often is because I eat so much! It's time to be a big girl now and start washing my dishes...or start using my dish washer

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