Game Changers Series: Paulus Berensohn

Game Changers Series: Artist Paulus Berensohn
This summer, I’ve been posting about films, books, and now artists who have seriously shaken up my world!

Can you imagine someone saying this about you…

Whether he’s speaking, slowly and thoughtfully as he does, or just smiling, is a gift. With his presence, life takes on a new radiance and energy. He teaches. He shines.

That’s what poet Mary Oliver has to say about today’s 85-year-old Game-Changing Inspirational Figure, and I couldn’t agree more. This past spring, when I met Paulus – the patriarch of Penland School of Arts and Crafts, I was mesmerized. He inhabits his 85-year-old body so fully, with such keen awareness. A true unique antique.

Anytime he’s near, you’re drawn into the light dancing in his eyes. Time becomes irrelevant, and you don’t realize you’ve been standing there transfixed. All you know is that you don’t want him to stop talking.

That’s why these days, I’m learning how to be an old man!

Being My Own Unique Antique

What does grapefruit juice have to do with being an artist? Find out in my latest blog post... // leesirwin.com // #GameChangersOne day, Paulus invited our journal-making class to his house one afternoon for “a splash.” That “splash” turned out to be a generous portion of scotch topped off with a bit of grapefruit juice (for the vitamins). He served this concoction in his signature pinch pots, each one beautiful and one-of-a-kind.

Yes, I was inspired by the art journals Paulus had created, as well as the pottery. Every surface of his tiny, jewel-box home was lovingly displaying handmade art pieces. There were photos of Paulus as a young man, performing modern dance at Julliard. Photos of him with the Dalai Lama.

But more than all of that, I was inspired by his obvious love of people. As we sat on the deck and listened to the creek below, Paulus spoke with each person around the table. His face radiant, his eyes gently invited each of us to drop our masks and enter into a sacred space together – present, real, accepted. He was shining and so were we.

A Film About Paulus

To Spring from The Hand is an intimate portrait of American artist Paulus Berensohn: dancer, potter, teacher, ecologist, philosopher and “fairy godfather” to many.

I’d love for you to share your feelings here – who are you inspired by? What qualities do you find inspiring?


Want to read more of my summer Game-Changers series? Click here.

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This week's Game-Changer is Nick Vujicic - a man who has created beauty from ashes.
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