What’s the Connection Between Vincent van Gogh’s Life of Painting and My Life of Activism?

Vincent van Gogh exhibit with silhouettes of people onserving
Photo by Redd on Unsplash

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Recently in a conversation with one of my cousins, we talked about an upcoming adventure we have scheduled on Thanksgiving Day. I failed miserably in remembering the pertinent details about the event. I searched through a mountain of emails for the ticket confirmation, time, and location. Finally, I found it! Our scheduled time to attend “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” is on Thanksgiving Day at 4 PM.

I’ve always been fascinated by the relatively short life of Vincent van Gogh and the creative force he was. I tingled with excitement as I listened to an audio track describing the exhibit itself, sprinkled with the lived experiences of an iconic painter. He started painting at the age of twenty-seven, producing over 2000 works of art, ranging from landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and self-portraits. After a fight with Paul Gauguin, he cut off his ear, then committed himself to an asylum due to mental health unrest. van Gogh died by suicide at the age of thirty-seven. He is recognized posthumously as an influential figure in Western art history.

Yet, I’m not writing this essay about the life of a painter per se. Rather, I’m writing based on a van Gogh quote shared in the audio, “I dream my painting, and I paint my dream.” You may be wondering: What in the world do these words spoken by a man living, painting, and communicating in the twentieth century have to do with a woman living, coaching, and communicating in the twenty-first century?

That question epitomizes creativity in the sense that what we create begins with a dream, a vision, or a purpose that only we can see. Then it progresses into active creation, manifestation, change, and transformation that happens as we brush stroke strategies and plans to move from where we are to where we desire to be—personally, socially, professionally, politically, or economically.

Such is the case as I created the latest expression of my work as a transformational life coach; it’s what I call Activism Through Coaching. And it all began with a three-month old melanized baby boy, named Cairo. He was born in March 2020 amidst the chaos of hunkering down under COVID…



Anita D Russell, Founder/CEO The Place to SOAR

Activism through Coaching | Author of Cultivating Change from the Inside Out: The Power of Being Human | Creating space for courageous conversation.