Nearly everyone gathers and collects something. Brian Gross (of TestTubeBaby) has been a tireless compiler and archivist of himself and his experiences. Upon reflection, this process of compiling and archiving (or complex informational/experiential network building and maintenance) seems to be focused not on achievement (the individual writings, musical compositions, visual art pieces, happenings, and community development projects he has rolled out or collaborated on—and/or that have been recognized and acclaimed), but on performance (the methods he helps to develop, test, implement, evaluate and revise in order to utilize experience and expertise—his own and that of others—with the aim of maximizing personal and collective enjoyment of the present and hope about the future).
This means that rather than adopting or disavowing different beliefs, ideas, identities and practices… he has tried to incorporate them into a greater whole. He has, for example, been able to incorporate and diffuse (without eliminating) various socially constructed identities that he has felt at one time to have some primacy in his life: homosexual, artist, addict, male, Caucasian, counsellor, professor, mentor, student, activist, consumer, bureaucrat, psychic. He has been and still is all of these things, while recognizing none of them as himself. Likewise, he has tended and continues to steward various tactics: civil disobedience, legal action, community development, therapeutic counselling, dialogue, spiritualism, performance art, politics/policy development, philosophy, organizational collaboration, media engagement. It’s not that any of these practices, to him, have specific contexts where they are either appropriate or inappropriate… or even discrete. In fact, they are extremely porous and overlapping… though circumscribing them as concepts may help with intentionality and ethical decision making.
Ultimately, all of this makes Brian dedicated and driven, as well as disloyal. Every idea and action can have purpose and usefulness (toward the end of maximizing personal and collective enjoyment of the present and hope about the future), but only as both the context and the intervenor in that context is capable of carrying out and integrating it. If the context would currently be amenable to a certain intervention, this only matters if an intervenor capable of carrying out that intervention is also available—and vice-versa. What this esoteric concoction boils down to is basically that what is possible is possible, and what is impossible is impossible. We need not know which is which, except that we will only be able to perform and achieve what is possible… and what is impossible, we will not.
Brian has been trained in and works extensively with:
- outcome mapping,
- communities of practice,
- developmental evaluation,
- acceptance and commitment therapy,
- motivational interviewing, and
- trauma and resiliency-informed practice.
Brian’s work in the art and social justice and change spheres has gained significant and consistent press coverage, and has resulted in numerous US and Canadian awards, honours, grants and fellowships—locally, regionally, provincially and nationally.
Brian earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Critical Writing from California Institute of the Arts, and a Master of Counselling from City University of Seattle.
Brian lives and works on unceded Coast Salish territory in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.