We had the good fortune of connecting with Molly W. Schenck and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Molly W., how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
It’s wild to think about balance in such a time of uncertainty. I’m not sure if my actual work life balance has changed much over the years, as it is not something that comes easy to me, but my mindset around what work life balance needs to looks like has evolved. Work life balance was always something that I saw as this elusive and somewhat fixed thing – as in, do your 9-5, five days a week and on the weekends you can have you time. And this didn’t really work for me. I found it difficult to concentrate in the middle of the day which resulted in having to do work in the evenings or weekends. I now see work life balance as much more fluid which allows me to shift my schedule as needed to adjust to whatever demands might be happening in my life. As a freelance artist and educator, there are more demanding work times such as the end of a semester or when a show is about to open. And in those lulls after a ton of grading or closing a show, I make sure to leave enough time and space in the days and weeks following those intense work periods for intense periods of me time. Way easier said than done, but worth it and necessary. Most recently, I’ve made sure to give care to myself daily in the form of movement, rest, touch, writing, and reading. I pick at least two a day which makes me believe there’s some kind of work life balancing happening … even though most days lately feel like I’m juggling in an earthquake.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I wear a variety of hats as many freelancers do, but movement artist and educator are the largest parts of my work. I also am a visual artist (both 2D and 3D mediums) as well as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. I’m most proud of the work I’ve done around the intersection of the arts with navigating stress, trauma, and burnout. The fields of arts and education (both informal and formal) have always been these sort of parallel career tracks for me. When I look back on my journey in both the arts and education, I feel like I never found an environment that served me well in creativity or learning, which is probably why I ended up in those fields. When I started digging into research about stress, trauma, and burnout, I felt like I finally understood how my seemingly compartmentalized career could actually fit together. I think this has been and continues to be the greatest challenge in carving my own path. I have yet to connect with someone who I feel I can point to and say, yes that’s who I want to be when I grow up or that’s my dream job or career path. And honestly, I think this is a narrative that’s going to be more and more common with my generation and the generations to follow. And through this journey, I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far is the importance of holding multiple truths. As in, I can be overwhelmingly filled with imposter syndrome and really proud/excited about a new project. I think holding multiple truths has been what allows me to hang out in multiple fields. it is also something that makes the work that I create and produce with Grey Box Collective really unique. The performances hold multiple truths about tough topics – mental health, sexual violence, etc. I believe that holding those multiple truths and the space for those complexities in our art, our classroom, and ourselves are how we build our capacity form true transformation.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I find my favorite places in Arizona are places where I feel I’m not in Arizona and top of the list is Singh Meadows. It’s such a gorgeous escape from the city without having to go far at all. I love sitting outside in their fields, eating yummy pastries from local bakeries, and reading. Other places to go and things to do would include wandering the arts district and walking around Tempe Town Lake.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Definitely the creatives with Grey Box Collective (GBC). I founded GBC in 2016, and the struggles of running an small art organization in the valley are plentiful. And every time I’ve found myself full of self-doubt about continuing the company for another season, there’s been some kind of GBC event or interaction that reminds me why GBC exists and why it is necessary for it to continue. Each season we have about 20 multidisciplinary artists involved in the collective and each person has influenced the organization and me. GBC would not be here today if it wasn’t for the most fearless and grounded collaborators who I’ve been lucky to connect with over the past five years.
Other: greyboxcollective.com @grey_box_collective https://www.facebook.com/GreyBoxCollective https://anchor.fm/greyboxcollective
Image with caution cones, Jenny Gerena Image with tree, still from dance film edited by Molly W. Schenck, captured by Chris Weise