Kristine Sorensen is the founder and executive director of In Progress. She has been a practicing teaching artist since 1987 and has developed several program models in the field of digital arts learning. She has 30 years experience teaching digital media workshops and residencies for youth, adult artists and educators. Sorensen is a skilled grants writer, educator, and developer. She has mentored many artists in her 30 years of teaching, that are now breaking down barriers as digital art makers. Her awards include the Jerome Travel Study Award, Saint Paul Leadership In Neighborhoods Award, and the Sally Arts Initiative Award.
Statement (rough draft)
I have been at this work for more than 25 years now and I am proud that so many of the artists that I have met along the way, I still feel profoundly connected to. Survival as a non-profit is difficult on a normal day, but keeping our integrity, staying true to our purpose, staying connected to young storytellers as they grow and mature and become "creators of storytellers," - is a privilege and honor that goes beyond words.
I believe in the art of mentorship and the profound effect that mentoring others can have on the world. I believe that everyone has the ability to write their own story and create the memories and experiences that in turn inform and create In Progress. To me - In Progress allows us to exist within the spirit of our relationships - it is something that is infinite and at times transformational.
We had to learn how to be comfortable with one another, to trust each other, and simply enjoy each given moment. As we have learned to believe in each other and in our visions for what In Progress can be, we have grown stronger. It has taken time, and patience, and a deep willingness to learn from one another. We have had to agree to disagree; to fail; and to get up and try again. We have had to give more and take less. We have had to learn how to create our own standards for success and not depend on others to see the value of our work.
Many times we have had to go it alone. At other times we have had to step back and learn from those we work with. Often it has been the least noticed within our communities - the young, the poor, the ones living in the smallest places, that have taught us how to just "be." We have become resilient, content, and patient with ourselves. We know we are not an ocean, or lake or river. Instead we are the deep well from which we all drink. It is unglamorous - but it keeps us alive and refreshed.
We are a family of artists and storytellers. Our boundaries are flexible. We know that we are stronger together than apart. We share. We laugh. We cry. We make deep and lasting connections through our stories - stories that belong to all of us. The artwork that we create carries precious memories because of how we made them. I believe that at In Progress, we all strive to be better and do better. We are unique because we are all in progress - each and every one of us.
We are different from other groups because we have long, lasting relationships that develop out of an appreciation of learning and creating together. When we share stories, we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. We get to know each other in ways that some never get to experience. It is what makes us unique and different. We also strive to work quietly, in small groups and in small ways. We value the little stories, the stories that others walk by. We see the beauty of each others families, cultures, and ceremonies. We appreciate that we are all different - that we are unique, and that we are all in progress . . . . This is what makes us different.
We seek to have lasting relationships, and we accept one another as artists without question. I believe there is a lot of love at In Progress. You don't find that just anywhere. We get to know each other - not over night, but over time. I know that in my life - In Progress has been a rare occurrence. It was sparked our friendships and a sense of belonging, that has shifted over time, but has never left. There is no sense of end with In Progress. You don't just finish a program or activity - you enter a way of thinking and being as an artist, and once you do that - you are In Progress.
What engages me is that we are forever changing - with each new person, with each new place, with each new story that is shared. There is never a dull moment. There is never a reason to go elsewhere. No matter where we are, when we are in progress, and we are at home.