Amy Jensen, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications, delivered Tuesday’s forum address. She spoke on why our bodies matter in today’s digital world. More specifically, she explained that being more intentional about how we use and where we place our bodies can help us grow and cultivate a deeper understanding of others.
Jensen has spent her career thinking, writing and teaching about the way that digital media influences society. She acknowledged digital media has been a helpful tool in her own life that has allowed her to stay in touch with family members and foster her own creativity.
Despite the tools that digital media provides, Jensen recognized that our bodies are the best instruments we have been given to grow and further connect with others.
“No matter how much I love the digital world and the work associated, I know that our physical bodies and souls associated matter more than any tool,” she said.
“My experiences in the arts have taught me over and over that our bodies matter — here and now, and in the eternities.”
In her first few years of teaching English and theatre at public schools, her perspectives shifted as she became proximate, or close to, the students and the different issues they faced.
“For me, arts classrooms, and especially performing arts classrooms, are sacred spaces where we have countless opportunities to become proximate, and feel the natural inclination to ‘mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,’” she said.
Drawing upon additional experiences she has had with art and people throughout her career, Jensen highlighted three insights on how art can help us grow and increase our understanding of others:
- Art gives our bodies opportunities to practice creativity and critical thinking
- Art helps us understand the background of people we encounter
- Art provides the ways and means for us to recognize and appreciate one another
One example Jensen specifically highlighted was a dance project that BYU dance education professor Kori Wakamatsu choreographed to represent and express the negative emotions that came from global turmoil of 2020. This dance was particularly meaningful to Wakamatsu, who as an Asian American citizen was acutely aware of the racial violence specifically directed at minorities during this time.
Jensen explained how being aware of the background and stories behind a piece of art, like Wakamatsu’s dance, can foster more connection and understanding of others and their experiences.
“Intentionally making or viewing art with others’ perspectives in mind helps us to arrive at informed choices that are consistent with our own values while welcoming and appreciating the perspectives of others,” Jensen said.
Jensen encouraged us to be more intentional in how we place our bodies. She urged people to put themselves in situations and positions that will foster proximity, understanding and connection with others.
“We should practice purposefully placing our bodies — carefully orienting our souls — in order to create holy ground where our own souls can expand and the worth of other souls can be perceived," she said.
Next AddressJohn Bingham, Donald L. Staheli Professor and associate dean in the Marriott School of Business, will deliver the devotional address on August 3, at 11:05 a.m.
His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org (and archived for on-demand streaming), KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYUradio 107.9 FM and SiriusXM 143.