Ultimate Software was fortunate to welcome artist Erik Wahl as a keynote speaker at Connections 2015. Not only was Erik’s on-stage presentation incredible, it extended beyond the Bellagio and became an inspiring real-world event right in front of US.
Can Art Change the World?
By Erik Wahl
Groundbreaking Artist, Author, and Expert on Creativity and Innovation
This past week, I planned to do an ART DROP in Las Vegas as part of a speaking engagement with Magic Johnson at Ultimate Software’s 2015 Connections conference. For those of you who don’t know ART DROP, it’s my personal way to pay it forward by hiding my art for a treasure hunter to find using clues I post in social media.
But this time, my plans changed.
While roaming the streets of Vegas looking for the perfect drop location, I came upon a man named Bishop who inspired me to UNthink the rules of my own game. Bishop was playing sax for passers-by next to a sign and a bucket for any spare change. The cardboard sign explained that he had lost his job and was playing music to earn some additional income for his wife and four children until he could find work again. As soon as I saw him, I knew he needed some “Magic” of his own. I handed the painting off to him and explained that my gift did not fit in his bucket but may be worth more than a dollar. I left him and started dropping hints for my ART DROP followers in hopes that they would find Bishop and offer to purchase the painting from him. They did more than that.
Two amazing women, Stephanie Nikirk and Louanne Fletcher of FCCI Insurance, collected their cash on hand and outbid a crowd of followers, giving Bishop $800 for the piece in under 20 minutes. The event created such a buzz that one of the Connections conference attendees where Magic and I spoke offered Bishop a job!
People ask me – can art change the world? Why does art really matter? The answer for me is a simple one: it changes us from the inside out. It inspires us to see each other in new ways. It creates a window to see into the soul of others. It challenges us to recognize the struggle in those who have been marginalized. It inspires us to change our own rules and welcome the flow of good that bursts forth when we’re able to connect with one another on a deeper level.
Can art change the world? As a noun Art is simply a thing. As a verb, Art is the vehicle that enables us to be the change we wish to see in the world. Thank you, Bishop, Stephanie and Louanne for reminding us of that.
— Erik Wahl (@ErikWahl) March 27, 2015