Ep 88 Featured Image Podcast

The Nomadic School of Wonder – Barbara Groth – Ep 88

June 28, 2023


Art-making is an invitation to presence. It’s where we learn to become more sensitive to the world around us and let go of everything that isn’t in front of us. Meet Barbara Groth. Barbara has spent 30 years pushing the boundaries for what’s possible in emerging technologies, human experience, design, storytelling, and social impact with companies such as Walt Disney, Pixar, and Meow Wolf. In 2015, she founded the Nomadic School of Wonder (NSOW), which seeks to take guests on adventures in awe that are rooted in nature, art, community, and play. Join us as we discuss wonder, awe, presence, and how those things lead to breakthroughs in our art and life.

Listen if you are interested in…

  • Getting to know Barbara Groth and the heart behind the NSOW [2:43]
  • Creating embodied and collaborative experiences [9:07]
  • Exploring the origin and magic of Meow Wolf [18:01]
  • The power of equine-assisted therapy [24:44]
  • Understanding the impact of presence and awe [31:47]
  • The road ahead for Barbara and the NSOW [42:28]

The study of wonder

Do you struggle to stay present in your art studio? Would you describe yourself as someone who is embodied? The truth is presence is something that most people struggle with. And I can’t really blame them. There are so many people and screens vying for our undivided attention constantly. How could our minds not be in a thousand places at once? That’s why so much of the work I do is about getting people out of their heads and into the intelligence of their hearts and hands. This is also the mission of Barbara Groth at the Nomadic School of Wonder. Through painful and beautiful moments, Barbara has learned that wonder and awe are the gateway drugs to presence and embodiment. It’s an invitation to be awake and alive. So every experience guests embark on with the NSOW is designed to create wonder and awe through art, nature, community, and play.

The wisdom of wild horses

One of the unique experiences offered by the NSOW is the chance to work with horses in a therapeutic setting. Having personally experienced this, I can’t overstate how impactful spending time with horses can be. Their energy fields are roughly 13 times larger than ours, so they feel EVERYTHING. The second I became self-conscious of what I was doing, my horse began to disengage. The more frantic I got, the more the horse wanted nothing to do with me. Horses can absolutely read your come from like a book. They either saddle up to that energy or politely excuse themselves. It’s not uncommon for people to say that they learned more from these creatures than they ever did in a classroom. We just have to be willing to receive wisdom from an unconventional place.

The purpose of presence

The NSOW seeks to create experiences that engage the senses to cultivate awe and wonder. And really, it’s about learning how to pay attention to those senses more. To be awake and alive to the world around you. Because while going to see the Northern Lights or working with therapy horses is an awe-inducing spectacle, it’s not sustainable to live in spectacle mode all the time. That’s why Barbara tries to emphasize moments of small wonder that call us back to our bodies and the things that really matter. When we prioritize presence in our art and life, we eliminate so much of the overthinking that gets in our way. For more on Barbara and the Nomadic School of Wonder, listen to this episode!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Barbara Groth

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Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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