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Learning @ La Biblioteca

Creativity and healing

By Andrew Osta

In this free presentation, the prolific young artist Andrew Osta will give a talk to celebrate the exhibition of his works in the Biblioteca’s Café Santa Ana. Andrew will speak on the subject of creativity – what it means, how to develop and encourage it, and what function the creative process has in healing, stress relief and our overall well-being.

Creativity and Healing, By Artist, Songwriter, and Author, Andrew Osta, Thu, Jan 26, 5pm, Sala Quetzal, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A, Free

Andrew Osta was born in Kiev, Ukraine. He immigrated to Canada with his family in 1994 and completed a four- year program at the University of Toronto, graduating with honors in Computer Science and Philosophy. After graduation, he dedicated his life to creativity and teaching. He worked with refugee children and youth in Canada, co-creating the Art-Healing program under SISO Hamilton, discovering ways to use art as a means of stress relief and a catalyst for healing.

In 2009, Andrew was invited to present at the 5th Annual International Shamanism Conference in Iquitos, Peru. There, he displayed his artwork next to the late Pablo Amaringo and other world-renowned painters. After the conference, Andrew stayed in Peru for another seven months, learning shamanism and writing his book, Shamans and Healers (available on The time spent in Peru also resulted in about 20 new songs, 14 of which were later recorded for a CD, Dimension Dream.

“I understood that inner vision, creativity, and imagination are very important. I saw that these qualities come from God, and therefore have infinite transformative and healing potential. Aside from the love in our hearts, creativity and imagination are the most important and divine qualities we have as human beings.

If God created us in His image, then creativity is also part of our legacy and our inheritance. But to be creative in the full sense of the word, we have to use our creativity with love. To me, creativity is ultimately an externalization of an inward state. Our creative efforts capture something within us, and freeze that sentiment in time, solidifying it and making is permanent.

To create while in a negative or disturbed state means to bring out and solidify those negative emotions, to make them real and visible in a painting or in a song. The resulting work of art will therefore give the onlooker an uneasy feeling. That is why the refugee children I worked with often ripped their drawings after making them – in this way, the trauma was externalized and dropped.

When we are feeling positive, on the other hand, the creative output of our efforts will serve to remind us of that positive state and reinforce our wellbeing, solidifying it and making it permanent in an external object, such as a painting or a song. In this way, the creative person introduces more goodness and light into the world, tipping the scales, so to say, towards individual and collective well-being”

Ancient Cultures Part I, The Four Major Pre-Hispanic Mexican Cultures

By Robyn Halliday

“Aztec, Toltec, Mixtec, Zapotec” –we know they were some of the great cultures of ancient Mexico, but “how the heck can you tell one ‘tec from another?”  If this question has been on your mind lately you may be interested in a lecture to be given this week at the Santa Ana Theater of the Biblioteca.  Retired Professor of Humanities Guillermo Méndez will examine four major pre-Hispanic Mexican cultures described by one Mesoamerican scholar as the four “unifying forces” in ancient Mexico.  They are the Olmec, Teotihuacán, Toltec, and Aztec civilizations.  The lecture will be illustrated with over 200 digital images of the art, artifacts, and architecture of the four cultures.

Lecture, Ancient Cultures Part I, The Four Major Pre-Hispanic Mexican Cultures, Thu, Jan 26, 5pm, Teatro Santa Ana, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A, 60 pesos

For each culture a distinguishing concept will be given and discussed.  The concepts are defining concepts which help to differentiate one group from another.

For example, the concept for the Olmecs is “The Mother Culture,” for that is the role

they played in Mesoamerican history.  Most of the salient characteristics of later cultures were present in the Olmec several centuries before the year Zero in our Gregorian calendar.

The ancient cultures of Mexico shared a unique calendar that combined a 365-day solar calendar and a 260-day ritual calendar.  This combination of calendars did not repeat until 52 years had passed.  Thus 52 year “centuries” acquired considerable importance in the cosmic expectations of the Aztecs, for example, demanding vital rituals like the “new fire ceremony.”   Every 52 years all the fires in the Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlan, were extinguished.  On a hilltop outside of the city a “new fire” was started on the chest of a soon-to-be-sacrificed person.  From the new fire all the extinguished fires of the city would be reignited.

Each of the four cultures had its own style in art and architecture.  Again distinguishing visual images will be presented that characterize each culture.  In the case of the Olmecs the colossal heads carved of basalt will be discussed and the unique were-jaguar images, many carved from jadeite, will be examined and interpreted.

A second lecture next week utilizing the same format will present the Zapotec, Maya, Classic Veracruz, and Mixtec cultures.

Weird Windows and Dazzling Doors

By Robert de Gast

San Miguel writer and photographer Robert de Gast has been roaming the streets and alleys of our fair city for years, examining its architecture and making photographs of many of the town’s beautiful (and sometimes bizarre) windows and doors. He will present a slide show of his extensive collection.

Slide show lecture, A Light-hearted Look at San Miguel’s Architecture, By Robert de Gast, Tue, Jan 24, 5pm, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A, 70 pesos

“I remain fascinated by the highly individual ways in which doors and windows are used and decorated,” he said. “I have thousands of pictures from many barrios around San Miguel but I have never seen two identical doors or windows. While the windows may not be as imposing as the doors, the variety of styles and designs is just as mind-boggling. Though the slide show is not exactly a spoof, it will not be very serious either. Let’s call it ‘light-hearted,’” de Gast remarked.

De Gast, born in the Netherlands, is a long-time resident of San Miguel, and the author of 10 books, including, most recently, The World of San Miguel: An Uncommon Guide. He has also published The Doors of San Miguel and Behind the Doors of San Miguel. He lectures frequently, conducts photography workshops, and offers short photography tutorials.

A recent issue of Independent Traveler advised: “Don’t miss Robert de Gast if he’s giving a lecture.” Admission is 70 pesos and benefits the Library’s many programs. The talk lasts about an hour and ends with a short Q&A session.


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