Jolanta Gisman-Stoch

Address, Opening Ceremony


My Birth Will Be Tomorrow:

Being Present in the Transitional Space Between Old and New


Jolanta Gisman-Stoch


I understand ‘being in transition’ as being betwixt and between: as being present in a dynamic space and time where we encounter, simultaneously, the dialectical energies of the old and the new.  Tradition and innovation pull us in opposite directions and, caught in the crosscurrent, we are impelled to improvise a new reality, a reconciliation, a rebirth.

With the Polish philosopher Jozef Tischner (1931-2000) I see our fascination with the past as a feeling of longing and being homesick, whereas we turn towards the future driven by a kind of hunger for the new and unknown.  These contrary inclinations are not just facts of life, they are felt experiences inspiring both fear and being safe and our “freedom to… (obligations) and  freedom from ….  We seek to reconcile them creatively in the free, but real (not virtual) space that Winnicott called ‘transitional’: the space between old and new.  This is the space where I work as a teacher of cultural animators and art therapists.

As illustration I draw on the ideas of several Polish artists to show the uniqueness of  the new and old energies in action in Polish culture and in the chosen work of my students, which comes from our annual research camps, where we experience being present in the creative process (being in transition).  

The anthropologist Robert Plant Armstrong calls our close encounters with art as an engagement with ‘affecting presence’, meaning that we meet the work in a transitional moment of co-presence.  The Polish philosopher of education Krystyna Ablewicz (2003) sees educational work as being in the educational situation where the participants are immersed in the world of values and mutual relations, where the experience of “being chosen” (which works both ways) is seen as the fundamental experience of pedagogy. I would like to adapt it in thinking of the experience of art and therapy.


Graduated from the faculty of Art Education, University of  Silesia in 1987. Since that time a lecturer at the Faculty of Ethnology and Educational Science in Cieszyn. Leads courses  in creative and expressive arts, accompanying the other in the creative process of making arts for students of  cultural animation and arts therapy.

Leads annual creative camps in natural sites in Poland. The participants do the environmental work exploring the dynamic of the creative process in connection with their personal, social and professional development. The students share their experience of the Camps at public art exhibitions. Leads arts workshops for different groups of children and adults in collaboration with cultural, educational and therapeutic communities e.g.: “The Centre for Educational Initiatives in Kartuzy,“  “Wroclaw Centre for Children’s Creativity” ,“The Society of  Families with Celebral Palsy Children”

Since 1991 has worked in collaboration with Malcolm Ross (University of Exeter, UK) during his annual visits to Poland.


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