Many artists today are working in collaborative and partnership situations. Often this engagement brings up difficult cultural and personal differences amongst the parties. Differences that are not understood can become an impasse to working together and result is conflict. How we communicate can have a tremendous impact on relations across conflicting differences. There is nothing wrong with difference, nor with conflict, in fact we need challenges to go beyond what we already know in order to develop creative options. Conflict is human, so is difference. What we often lack are models of how to engage with conflict in generative rather than adversarial ways.

We forget that conflict that is between people is also within people. To transform conflict between we must also transform within. Part 1 of this seminar will be looking at the psychosocial aspects of conflict including the nature and culture of difference and bias formation, reaction versus response, and dynamic communication towards equity, empathy and reciprocity.


Dorit Cypis is an artist, MFA, California Institute for the Arts and a mediator, Masters of Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University.

Since the 1980’s Dorit Cypis has employed strategies of photography, performance, installation, social sculpture to explore relationships between personal and social identity, questioning subjectivity in relation to corporeal, social, political and psychological spaces.

Her work has been presented nationally and internationally including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, International Center of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Orange County Museum, Walker Art Center, Musee d’Art Contemporain at Montreal, Musee des Beaux Arts @ Bruxelles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Cypis has taught on identity, representation and social relations at universities and colleges across the USA as well as in Canada, Holland, France and Israel.

Cypis has generated extensive cultural programming including FAR (Foundation for Art Resources), 1979-1982, Los Angeles, questioning the production of art, the role of artists and the ability of art and artists to penetrate cultural domains. FAR developed partnerships between artists and public, private and educational organizations throughout Los Angeles. She founded Kulture Klub Collaborative (KKC), Twin Cities, 1992-1999, within a large social service agency, Minneapolis Youth Link, to challenge social workers to accept art as a viable discipline for crisis intervention with homeless teens. KKC developed strategies to bridge survival and inspiration, networking between homeless youth, artists and arts organizations across the Twin Cities. Both these organization continue today.

Cypis’ recent study of mediation and conflict transformation pro actively addresses difference, the negotiation of power and reciprocity. Her work today mines aesthetics and ethics. Cypis’ museum exhibitions are immersive laboratories abstracting forms, positions, gestures, and meanings to shed light on the paradoxes of identity, while her public works and actions are social/political extensions, mediating aesthetic abstractions into living life. Here form meets function and ideology shifts back to experience.

Founded by Cypis in 2006, Foreign Exchanges offers strategies of engagement bridging personal and cultural differences through aesthetics, conflict resolution and somatic arts, for the arts, culture, education, social service, social activism and innovative business. Foreign Exchanges represents the strengths of Cypis’ work as an artist, a mediator, and an educator.

Dorit Cypis has received numerous awards including the National Endowment for the Arts, Japan Foundation, Bush, McKnight, Jerome, Ordway, Durfee Foundations, City of Los Angeles Cultural Arts Department and the Fellows of Contemporary Art. She is a founding member of Mediators Beyond Borders, Chair of Mediation and the Arts Committee, Southern California Mediation Association and is on the Advisory Board for Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.

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