Dear Innovations in Reading Prize 2010:
I have known Mardi Ellen Hill for 7 years. We were introduced by a mutual friend who noticed that Mardi and I had a common interest in embracing the computer as a tool for the modern day artist and musician. Mardi’s thinking is cutting edge. This is so, ironically, not because she’s a techno-maven but because her approach to basic questions like ‘What is art?’ is so traditionally and conceptually grounded that she immediately navigates to the edge of what a 21st century artist should explore. Mardi is a refreshing blend of savvy, contemporary awareness combined with solid, traditional thinking.
Mardi’s mission is nothing short of helping the individual find their internal, personal voice. Now — as I reread that sentence, it seems either vapidly cliche or somehow vacuously grand delinquent. But, the truth is we ARE living through an era where interconnectivity has drowned out the individual and homogenized the individual perspective. And, if I may be permitted to continue preaching to the choir for just one more sentence: as Eric Larsen, a literature professor of 40 years so poignantly reminds us in his pop-culture indictment “A Nation Gone Blind”, the purpose of reading is to teach us that we are all utterly and irrevocably ALONE … “and that this individual self is the single most essentially crucial thing in the entire universe –for without it, there would be nothing else whatsoever….Yet only from within this unspeakable limitation….and in no other conceivable way, can the universal be seen, perceived, understood, experienced — and possibly, even, created.”
Mardi, through the invention of her MENDtm Experience, has given the contemporary reader an innovative new tool to explore, master, and exploit this limitless resource known as the self.
Mardi understands that in all probability a writer is more likely to hook a young person initially through some form of electronic media, but her (very conscious) mission is to drive the student back into the pages of the novel where, as a reader, the student’s mind is free to scheme along with the characters, to find and decode clues, to want to delve further into the character’s lives, and in so doing delve into their own lives in a new, informed way.
John Kiehl, Creative Director, Soundtrack Recording Studios
MEND™ Team Member and Collaborator