by Daniel Cywinski
Polish artist and critical thinker (principally in the areas of education and art), Fayga Perla Ostrower, is the author of a phrase that I find especially magical for those who have chosen an artistic path in life:
“Man creates, not only because he wants to, or because he likes to, but because he has to. He can only grow, as a human, researching, giving form, creating.” (Ostrower, 1987).
A magical phrase that puts forth in words the enchantment that man has in creating, in giving form, in producing and organizing, in materials, what his mental universe is capable of producing.
Without doubt, we humans, always create, always search for ways of materializing, symbolizing, representing and, thus, communicating our feelings and perceptions of the world.
Since we are biologically the same, there is no reason to doubt that our ancestors made art in some form, whether verbal, material, musical, or performative. Beyond those eternal cave paintings, certainly other forms of art were made and lost due to an incapacity to record them.
Given this constant reflection, as an educator, among the many other tasks that I am called to do, I try to facilitate creative processes in the educational environments of which I am a part.
No matter how much I would like to progress in this direction, it is a constant struggle to find that moment which is born of a mixture of elements to provide the conditions for a true and profound creation process in the work group. Without gainsaying the results achieved, and without hesitation, I sincerely confess that I have not met a person more capable of creating these conditions than Mana Bernardes.
In a rare and absolutely visceral way, Mana, (also) the educator, possesses the keys to open doors that separate the student from the creative process. The result of this gift, or some might call it technique, surprisingly occurs as a collective expression of art, transcending authorship, a unique manifestation at the true limits of what can be done in creative education. Her ease in establishing a connection between the student and the moment of artistic creation is, at minimum, unexpected, it has no beginning and no strategy, and it is, in my understanding, her true art.
Mana describes her work as an educator in methodologies and workshops, she is capable of systematizing her practice and even giving lectures about it, but it would be inefficient for anyone to rationally try to follow her steps, since such ability is intangible and can only serve as inspiration.
Mana Bernardes has a way of connecting people with the intense universes of creativity. For me, however, it is in her work as an educator, a woman capable of producing a true connection between the student and his/her interior self; that self that is rarely reached in life, if not by those rare lucky ones, the artists.
By her abilities (strategies) as an educator, she breaks through barriers that block students from repetitious reality, and thus catalyzes the development and perception of new symbolic and aesthetic possibilities.
As a protagonist of the vanguard, she combines these educational strategies to surmount social and economic challenges, thus creating both individual and collective pathways for human, social, cultural and economic development resulting in the possibility of transforming art into a policy tool for social development.
For this, and no other reason, I hold Mana as a unique and unequaled example of the educator.Hail the beautiful and beloved educator Mana Bernardes!
Daniel Cywinski is an educator with a Masters from the Faculdade de Saúde Pública da Universidade de São Paulo (College of Public Health at the University of São Paulo), and manager of Cairuçu Association (Paraty/RJ).