Third Objects

A DEFINITION A third object can be a poem, an image of visual art, a song, section of film, an inspirational quote—anything upon which the mind can focus.

Object-based reflection, or “third object” is a method of using a creative medium to inspire right-brained associative thinking to disrupt conditioned patterns of thought. By approaching challenging issues indirectly and steering the imagination towards difficulty, complex relationships emerge that can illuminate connections that were previously unseen. Object-based reflection encompasses both looking and making activities, as different ways to access creative solutions.

Visual Explorer™

Visual Explorer™ is a tool for creative conversations—using a wide variety of images. You can also curate your own personalized image collections suited to key themes or images that inform your work.

  1. Each person selects images in relation to a focal question. For example, imagine a collaborative group using this exercise to check in about their progress toward a particular goal or about working together.
  2. Describe the image itself.
  3. Say what you think the image means from your perspective, in relation to the focal question.
  4. Each person in the dialogue then describes and interprets the image from their own perspective.

For further exploration, visit the Center for Creative Leadership at www.ccl.org.

“We are, always, poets, exploring possibilities of meaning in a world which is also all the time exploring possibilities.” —Margaret Wheatley, Author of Leadership and the New Science

Try This!

Try opening a meeting with a poem that sets the tone of the conversation. Imagine reading Rhina Espaillat’s poem “Significant Other” to start a conversation about exclusion, race, ethnicity and culture. Visit the Center for Civic Reflection’s online resource library for curated selections to help kick off your discussion.

“If people connect an image with their goals, it might mean more to them than the words themselves. I am always hoping for an intention to appear—a symbol that would reflect an emotion, a private thought, or a connection to core values that is attached to the outcome, in contrast to a goal that is more in the physical world of doing.” —Reb TziPi Radonsky, Coach and Associate for the Center for Creative Leadership

“The aesthetic world demands that we feel, which is precisely what we need to create a new body politic that compassionately responds to the call for common well-being and welfare.” —Lisa Yun Lee, philanthropist and co-founder of Public Space, a program of The Illinois Humanities Council

Created by Shin Yu Pai,
Philanthropy Northwest