Meet the Artist: George Schricker - wordsmith
MARSHALL COUNTY — “Deep in your heart there’s a special light that knows--that the world needs your every gift if we’re all going to grow. And it’s up to you to see it—let it swell like the rolling tide—it’s up to you to share your life and the story that’s inside.” Those are the words of poet, songwriter and storyteller, George Schricker, bard of Plymouth, Indiana.
Schricker was born in Plymouth and has spent most of his life in Marshall County, except for 12 years during high school, college, and early in his career. Looking back on it, he feels fortunate that his high school years were at Warren Central in Indianapolis, where theater and the arts were on equal footing with sports—both being mutually recognized for their virtues.
He began to conceive of himself as an artist at Northwestern University, where he was able to create his own Interdepartmental Studies major, taking courses in English Literature, Communication Arts, Fine Arts, and Oral Interpretation. During this time he threw himself into his writing, particularly his poetry, and began reading in other areas such as Philosophy, Theology, Psychology, History, and the new science of Ecology.
“I felt suddenly the world just opened up as a treasure trove of discovery. I purposely wanted to be a generalist. I wanted to understand how things fit together” he explained.
Following college, he was drawn to the bright lights, going to New York City to read his poetry in Greenwich Village while working in an ad agency. After about a year, he returned to Chicago for a job as a media consultant with an agency, worked with The Chicago School Board, and discovered a true love for education.
Seizing an opportunity to create as a freelancer in Washington D.C., he began working on Capitol Hill, developing films and slide shows for a lobbying group. Eventually the shine wore off that job, too, because he was yet again “selling someone else’s vision.”
During his time in Washington D.C., Schricker continued to write and read his poetry and as a result was hired to teach creative writing at The Writer’s Center in Glen Echo, Maryland. Suddenly he was confronted with the task of teaching writing to business professionals who wanted to expand their writing potentials. This led him to do independent research in the field of creativity at the University of Maryland, studying the new writing related to left and right brain thinking and particularly the work of Robert McKim (Stanford), in his seminal book, Experiences in Visual Thinking. The result of his investigations led to developing a curriculum dependent on a series of experiential exercises designed to open access to different parts of the brain—thereby encouraging alternative writing strategies.
During this same period, he began reading E.F. Schumacher’s book, Small is Beautiful, a study of economics as if people mattered, and it caused a profound change in his life’s direction. George relates, “Schumacher had studied the ideas of Gandhi and was concerned about what gargantuan technologies would do to people—how giant technology could take away people’s self-reliance and make them dependent on systems that were impersonal and destructive to the environment—structures that imprisoned them and fractured their humanity. He was suspicious of the whole numbers game—the idea that everything we do has to be evaluated, taking humans to be soul-less—treating them like cogs in a grand economic scheme. Most importantly, for me, was his anti-Thomas Wolfe dictum: You must go home again.”
So, Schricker packed up his clothes and few belongings and headed back to his birthplace.
Once back home, he began taping the stories of his grandmother, Muriel Laramore Eddy, working at the Plymouth Public Library, and studying the wild plants native to the region. He revisited his love for the guitar and began using it as a songwriting tool, penning the historical ballad, “Menominee.” After adding a few more Native American ballads and stories to his tool box, he set out on a career as an itinerant songwriter and storyteller—travelling to schools, churches, and festivals to share his presentations with others.
Noticed by the director of Very Special Arts Indiana, Schricker was tapped to begin teaching songwriting and storytelling to special needs children across the state. It was during this work that he began to realize some universal teaching fundamentals that appeared to apply across populations of all ages and ability levels. “I realized that an understanding of the innate creative processes available to all of us could be achieved through a simple step-by-step process of interwoven lessons—driven through both individual and collective work. It just dawned on me—creativity doesn’t have to really be taught, it just has to be reinstated. After that, the process just takes over.” This was the genesis of his workshop, The Story Inside, which is now offered at least once a year at Moontree Studios. (Friday, June 27 to Sunday, June 29, in 2014.)
“People experiencing The Story Inside are engaged in the creative process from the inside out. By mixing the art forms of drawing, music making, acting, and sculpting with clay, participants move fluidly through a series of experiences that are fun and focused—alive with the spirit of the creative experience. It’s really a rebirthing and renewing of the creative life inside of each participant.”
What Schricker finds so profound about the MoonTree experience is the camp-like atmosphere that surrounds it. “Participants engage in these very intense and fun-filled workshops and then disengage from the activity and find themselves walking by the lake, meditating on their own profound creativity. It’s such a great atmosphere and it helps people to sink into the experience—which is a great way to get rid of negative self-talk and rewire oneself to the creative spark!”
In 2013, The Story Inside received a grant from the Marshall County Community Foundation, giving Schricker the opportunity to share his method to help people develop their group presentation skills. He knew the method was useful for business persons, college students, job seekers, and anyone who wished to gain a greater command over their person while presenting in front of others.
“I wanted people to understand that creativity is an essential tool for self-development and is directly linked to the way we choose our life’s direction.”
Coming up, on Monday June 9 to Saturday, June 14, Schricker will be part of a new creative teaching team called, artSparks. Along with dancer and director, Marcia Heintzberger, and creative dramatist, Ed Schererberry, he will assist in engaging third through eighth grade students in a unique playwriting experience that will involve acting, dancing, drawing, and improvisation. Most importantly, the children participants will work together to weave their ideas into a theatrical production to be performed on the last day of the workshop.
Schricker continues to produce his own creative material, writing songs and singing in the band, Wild Rose Moon. His tenth album, Precious Time, features his current band mate, Jim Yocom, on harmonica. In addition, the album features two fine local musicians, Gene Ley, on guitar, and Steve Deford, on keyboards. You can listen to the music at wildrosemoon.com and order it from CDBABY.
Teaching creativity, engaging in the creative process, and sharing it with others . . .that’s George Schricker.
This article appeared in the Friday, June 6 edition of the Pilot News. Meet the Artist is a regular feature on the Arts & Entertainment page, published every Friday.