SXSW 2020

Mearcstapa (Mearc-wha?!): An Artist on Empathy


A Mearcstapa, which when translated literally means "marsh-stepper," is one who walks borders or lives on the fringes of culture. In our society, these are the artists, the designers, the creators among us, who help us interpret experiences and emotions with a heightened level of empathy. But can this level of empathy be learned? Can it be fine-tuned?

Through this presentation, you will learn to look beyond your own safe, clear boundaries to see things from another’s point of view. You'll discover how, through the creative process of art - and the consumption and interpretation of this art across all mediums - empathy can be strengthened by recognizing the ways in which art demonstrates bridging the divide between people, cultures, communities, and schools of thought.

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  1. Artists' innate ability to make connections between unrelated things can bring people together, especially those from different backgrounds.
  2. Practicing empathy (investing time in others, deliberate sincerity, active listening) gives access to unlimited ideas, which can lead to innovation.
  3. Learn a simple technique for practicing empathy by rephrasing your questions; this skill can be taught to anyone.



Amanda Herzberg, Communication and Brand Strategist, Cushing Terrell

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Focus15
  • Track: Connection & Culture
  • Track 2
  • Level: Beginner

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