The Art of Storytelling
David Gonzales, an award-winning spoken-word artist, educator and storyteller, recently hosted a mini-residency at Governors State University (GSU). He shared potent insights into the impact of art and authenticity as part of the university's Arts in Education series.
“It’s when we’re at our most vulnerable, that we’re our most powerful,” Gonzales told students, faculty, and staff on campus during the interactive, storytelling workshop, “How We Choose Significant Stories to Tell.”
On the CPA stage, Gonzales began with a performance of his multi-media, storytelling show “The Boy Who Could Sing Pictures” for GSU students and those from surrounding elementary schools.
Later in the Hall of Honors, Gonzales hosted a workshop at the request of Professor Deborah James and Forensics Team Coach Eddie Gamboa, both of whom teach communication classes in the Division of Arts and Letters. The courses look to storytelling as an avenue for civic engagement, a core value at GSU.
Gonzales told the audience about his own journey in storytelling, opening with the effect the televised Vietnam War had on him as a child. He realized that through the art of storytelling he could affect change. Thus began his work as a social artist, using his art to work with people, organizations, and schools in various communities to convey messages about timely topics.
Participants asked questions about the process of creating his works, how he incorporates lights and music, and how he created a recognizable name in the industry. His response was simple.
“I don’t have a name. I’m not worried about getting famous, I just want to make a difference.”
Gonzales directed the group through a minute-long meditation, and then the participants took part in activities such as whispering stories to people they did not know. By the end of the workshop he instructed everyone to think of a story from their own life that would save a child who needed their help.
“A story to save a life. What would you tell them?” he asked the audience.
Participants wrote down basic guidelines for their stories, which the students will be sharing in future classes. The audience noted the trust they felt with each other from the exercises, and a sense of closeness to everyone in the workshop, many of whom they did not know or did not know well.
Gonzales ended the workshop by encouraging the audience to share their stories with the world.
“Your story matters. It will save lives. It will make a difference,” he said.