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Artist Helps Strangers Truly Connect

Artist Wendy McNaughton was distraught about the incivility in the U.S. So, she started using a drawing technique, called “blind contour” or “look closely.”

It works like this. Two people who have never met before sit at a small table across from each other. Then they follow these rules. Rule number one: never lift your pen off the page. Use one continuous line. Rule number two: never look down at the paper you’re drawing on. Keep your eyes fixed on your partner’s face the whole time.

McNaughton encourages participants to go slow and pay attention. Draw what you see, not what you expect to see.

Nearly all the participants fretted over their artistic ability, but I insisted they just start drawing. And when they were finished, they looked down and inevitably cracked up. The drawings were always hilarious. Teeth on foreheads and scribbles where lips should be. ... But the point of this isn’t the final product. It’s the process. Seeing each other. Participants were stunned by the connection they felt with someone they hadn’t met before, even after just 60 seconds. These former strangers were now, kind of, friends.

McNaughton concludes: “Imagine what would happen in our communities, if we slow down to look at one another.”

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