It seems so long ago. That art studio. Among other emerging 7th grade artists. It was in that place where metal stools, paints, pencils and clay dust all came together to cultivate my creativity, my mind.
Now, 27. Almost 14 years removed from my last art class, the memories of past projects are vague. They are only recalled by old art pieces that my pack-rat parents have saved for one reason or another. Sometimes, it’s because they actually liked a piece, and at other times, it’s because they felt guilty after I caught them trying to throw something out, like the Happy Mother’s Day clay pitcher I made. None of these works will ever be showcased in a museum. The best I can settle for is a kitchen back in Allen, TX, where my mom now proudly displays that pitcher – high above the ground on top of her dark cherry oak cabinetry. Museum or not, my legacy stands solidified.
And distant. When was the last time my pencil and my fingers combined to skate across the white surface of an empty page? It has been too long.
Art, they say, is a means to escape home without running away. It is creativity that is developed, chosen and kept. It is the expression of the human soul revealed tangibly and understood variably. Art is all these things, and yet it is still more. It harkens back to past memories. It expresses and elicits strong emotions. Art weaves the 20th century African American Great Migration to the modern day understandings of ethnicity and culture. It celebrates the ordinary things of life as seen through the world’s Norman Rockwalls. It memorializes tragedies like 9/11. Art, in these iterations, becomes part of our shared stories and identities.
Then there is art that goes beyond its normal forms and cuts through the disciplines and even life itself. I may not paint on a canvas anymore or sketch a scene at the park, but art still remains in me. Art takes the English language and makes writing into a craft that I love engaging with now. It helps me appreciate the offensive sets of a basketball team – artistry in motion. It transforms the way I think about the world, the way I try to capture a scene in my mind or understand someone sitting across from me.
That art studio still sits inside the school I once attended. Hundreds of students have probably sat in the same stool that I once sat in, breathing in the same clay dust I once breathed. I am sure I will never enter through its doors again, but gratefully, I don’t need to. Just as art moves between history and culture, somehow, it has found a way to move between my life and reach across memory’s distance.
It’s humbling to know that learning something like art (or _________) is a blessing and an act of both grace and empowerment. To my parents, my teachers and my Father in heaven – what a great gift. Thank you.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 7:11-12