Michael O’Bryan

Your Eyes

Mike O'Bryan

Michael O’Bryan Your Eyes

Audio file

How can we be better listeners?

Artist’s Note

“It is my belief that empathy works better by identifying and relating to shared emotional experiences rather than through projecting oneself into experiences of another person, particularly when you do not have that in common. Often we speak and rush to relate to others without actively bearing witness to their humanity.

“The act of bearing witness to the suffering, joys, challenges, and triumphs of others allows us to begin to build an empathic connection and bridge into their world. A connection that doesn’t start with assumptions and a search for relevance, that ultimately can end in diminishing the identity and lived experience of the person with whom you are aiming to connect.

“After truly bearing witness then we can ask: How can I be a better listener? How can I show up on this person’s behalf? How can I be a better ally? How can I support them in this moment or in other moments during our times together?”

About the Artist

Mike O’Bryan, a member of the Commission on the Arts, is an Urban Innovation Fellow at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, a lecturer in City Planning at The University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design, and the Founder/Principal of Humanature, a design strategy firm.

Michael O’Bryan

The Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University
Commission Member

Additional Notes

This song was written and recorded in 2010 in collaboration by Mike O’Bryan, a group of youth from Homestead and Miami, Florida (through a non-profit, EnFamilia, Inc.) and a team of professional musicians. The youth worked together to create a film project called “Eyes of Deception”, exploring the issues of race, class, dehumanization, and social injustice amongst the migrant farm working and historically excluded communities of the region.

Professional musicians include:
Producer and Guitarist - Harry Wilson
Drums: Anwar Marshall
Vocals: Elle Morris
Vocals: Mike O’Bryan
Bass: Scott Ziegler
Engineer: Micah Forsyth

Commission on the Arts

The Commission - drawing on the expertise of its members who are artists, scholars, activists, and leaders, as well as the input of people across the country who participated in listening sessions - dedicated itself to recognizing and supporting the essential role of the arts and artists in American life.