Flow as a Psychological Principle

By: Kaitlin Davis

Aaron Simpson (Weebit), member of the WVU Flow Arts club, got a yoyo for this birthday eight-years ago and little did he know that’s where his passion for flow arts would start. Eight years after receiving that gift, he is now the best yoyo guy in Morgantown, W.Va.

However, Simpson’s favorite part of flow arts is the community. “The community is always so willing to teach and everyone is willing to teach and learn from each other,” said Simpson. “It’s the community coming together and making the community better together.”

Individuals within the flow art community are always willing to teach someone a new skill or help them perfect their skill.

The WVU Flow Arts Club came to Morgantown in 2013 after initiators Jenni Whitener, Cassidy Brown, and Kayla France brought a bunch of people together to just flow. It started as place where people could relax and get a break from their crazy schedules, but during the 2013-14 school year, WVU Flow Arts Club became officially registered as a student organization through the university.

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Caitlin Santa Barbara practicing on the Mountainlair Green. Photo taken by Kaitlin Davis

Caitlin Santa Barbara, former president of the WVU Flow Arts Club, also loves the community that surrounds flow arts, but Barbara also loves the mediation and relaxation that flow arts provides her with. “The community of it and just the fact that it gives me a place to relax because I am really busy and [it] gives me time to meditate,” said Barbara. “It’s active mediation pretty much.”

Barbara started experimenting with flow arts when she was a junior in high school, staring with a friend’s hula hoop. Flow arts, however, is more than just hula hoops. Flow artists can use balls, flags, yoyos, juggling materials, fire or just anything that the individuals wants to use.

Object manipulation is a huge part of flow arts, according to Simpson, but flow is more of a psychological principle.

According to the Flow Arts Institute, flow arts is used to describe the intersection of a variety of movement-based disciples that include dancing, juggling, fire-spinning, and object manipulation. Flow arts takes skill and creativity to reach a state of “present-moment awareness,” which is typically known as flow.

“Flow is when you get into this trance almost that lets you focus in so hard that you’re prop becomes an extension of you,” said Barbara. “Flow is generally prop manipulation, but your flow is really what you want it to be.”

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Robert Chandler practicing poi on the Mountainlair Green. Photo taken by Kaitlin Davis

There are students in the flow arts club that manipulate staffs, balls, unicycles, hula hoops, flags, yoyos, fire and there are students who use video games or other aspects of life as their flow.

So how did this movement come about? Flow arts draws from many ancient and modern movement disciplines such as taichi, Maori poi spinning, martial arts, juggling, circus arts, fire dancing and hula hooping. Taichi is used to help reduce stress and anxiety while Maori poi involves swinging tethered weights through rhythmical and geometric patterns.

Students who participate in this club perform in various places around the Morgantown area. Local venues, such as Mainstage Morgantown and 123 Pleasant Street , allow the WVU Flow Arts club to perform. Flow artists are also seen at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Park.

Simpson, whose stage name is Weebit, has the wonderful opportunity to also perform with Mr. Twister’s Total Entertainment, which is a family entertainment company. Currently, Simpson is the only flow artist and juggler with the company. The company performs all over the Great Lakes area, according to Simpson.

The club has a Facebook page where members can coordinate meeting times to flow and play together, and currently the page has 367 members. The club typically meets on Wednesday nights, but with the nice weather, they typically meet various times throughout the week.

Interested in becoming a member of the WVU Flow Arts Club or just want to know more about it? Visit their Facebook page in order to see meeting times and events surrounding the group.

8 thoughts on “Flow as a Psychological Principle”

  1. I love this article. It goes into the background of what Flow Art Club and how it came about Morgantown. I think it is really cool and always see students doing it really anywhere and everywhere whether its nice out of even in the lair. I didn’t realize it was ever a club here I just thought it was a group of people hanging out and thats what they liked to do. I like all the different layers you added to the article with many visuals.

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  2. I always joke that I should join the Flow Arts Club because I can juggle balls, clubs, rings, etc. It’s something that I find fascinating and fun to learn new tricks. It’s great art that takes plenty of practicing, and I always love seeing this club practicing new tricks and objects around campus. I’m so glad that you shined some light on this (under0appreciated) club, and gave us some background about these students.

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  3. In my capstone class last semester, one of the groups did a package on the flow-arts club, which was really interesting and provided some really cool visuals. It’s fascinating that we have a club like this here, and it kind of seems like the ultimate hippie activity. Really cool pictures and visuals in this post.

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  4. This is so cool, Kaitlin!! I had no idea that flow arts were such an “art” – this was really, really cool to read about! I loved the photos and vines that you incorporated in addition to the map!! So so cool.

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  5. This is so cool!! I had no idea Flow Arts was even a thing, but that’s why it plays so well into your group’s theme of things we don’t know about Morgantown. I’ve seen some of these people around campus, and always thought it looked cool, but never knew it was a real organization and group of people— I just thought they were doing it for fun. It’s so cool this is a real “art.” I loved the use of the vines to show what they’re doing. It would have been impossible to describe that using words, so the use of the vines was perfect. I think this article had everything needed for an awesome article– links, pictures, videos, content, and just a genuinely interesting topic. Really good!!

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  6. This is a great article!! Extremely rich with a lots of added material. The Vines work perfectly because seeing someone flow is much better than just a picture of them doing it. So glad you got to interview them, Kaitlin. 🙂 I really like that you included the history of flow arts. I had never known there was such a long history of flow.

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  7. As others have mentioned, nice job on the visuals in this! I do have a question, though. You said that some on Morgantown’s concert venues allow the Flow Club to perform, but how exactly? I don’t mean this as an insult, but I can’t imagine ever paying to see what is essentially street art be performed on a stage.

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  8. This is a great article! I actually had no idea that this club even existed, and especially that it had such a history and that so much went into it. This blog has done a great job at showing more to Morgantown than the mainstream, and your topics have kept me interested every week! I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog.

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