By Emma Castleberry
Giving a TED talk has been on Ginger Huebner’s list of “Big Goals” for a long time. But she admits that despite her plentiful accomplishments—founding and running the Roots + Wings School of Arts and Design, a career as a studio artist, curating and participating in numerous art exhibitions—she always wondered if she “would ever have anything to say.”
For many years, Huebner has been implementing her Create + Connect process: the work of translating life, ideas and concepts visually. This work has permeated her career as an architect, her school residencies and the workshops she has led for adults and families. When COVID-19 caused incredible hardship for Roots + Wings, Huebner saw an opportunity to pivot and formalize her Create + Connect process in an effort to save and support her school. “When TEDx Asheville came back online in 2021 with their call for proposals and the theme was ‘Building Bridges and Opening Doors,’ I just felt super-called to apply,” she says. “It’s what my work is all about. So, it turns out I did have something to say.”
TEDx is a local, independently organized event that follows the same format as TED Talks: short presentations (18 minutes or less) that share ideas. Huebner’s TEDx Asheville talk explores this question: What if we had conversations without even saying a word, and instead used imagery and color alone? She presented her talk on February 27 at the TEDx Asheville event at Wortham Center for the Performing Arts. Her talk received immediate recognition: it was placed on the TEDx YouTube channel, then added to the Editor’s Pick List and finally placed on the TED.com global website. More than 80,000 people viewed Huebner’s talk within two weeks of its release.
“To have this many people listening to it has filled me with such gratitude and hope that this work truly is as powerful and intriguing as I witness that it is,” she says. “I believe that right now we are all seeking new ways to process, to heal, to get past the ugly words that keep getting thrown around and causing division among communities everywhere. The Create + Connect process combines visual imagery and color, creating a universal language that is accessible to anyone and completely non-threatening. It’s truly a new way to have conversations.”
Barrie Barton, a speaking trainer and coach with Stand and Deliver Asheville, is the executive director for TEDx Asheville. “Ginger’s big idea was unique because it was about a subject that steps outside the realm of words and taps into the creative force of images,” she says. “That was intriguing and offered a doorway into a subject no one else was offering.”
Roots + Wings offers Custom Experiences for all ages that include one-on-one or small group lessons in drawing, painting, printmaking, clay, mixed media or collage. The school also offers Portfolio Intensives for students applying to college in the art and design world and Create + Connect Collaborative Portrait Workshops for individuals, families and small groups. “This TEDx talk captures the essence of the work that I do through my Create + Connect process,” Huebner says. “It offers a glimpse into my heart while at the same time offering examples of how this work connects us through deep and meaningful conversations beyond words.”
To view Huebner’s talk or learn more, visit GingerHuebner.com.