Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sarina Arts Extravaganza Australia

Dear Art Loving Friend,

I have spent the majority of this past week teaching workshops to children in the schools, as well as to adults in our makeshift atelier up on the stage in the community building that houses the Sarina Arts Extravaganza here in Australia.  In addition to that, I have been working in a local high school to help the kids learn how to create a mural.  I have been consulting with the class to show them how to take their ideas, expand them to fit the project and create a composition.  Because of the time constraints, I was only allowed to talk about several ways they can take their – to date – unfinished designs and enlarge them to create the cartoons needed to transfer their ideas to a much larger space.  [Cartoon as defined in Michelangelo’s time, not today’s definition of the word.]

One of the area schools was thrilled to let us guide the various age groups of their classes around the art exhibit while I spoke about the idea of art being more than “just a pretty picture.”  Art is the safe place in which we can express and explore our humanity … all aspects of it, as well as appreciating the Natural (or unnatural) world we inhabit. I also wanted to tell them that artists train as long as or longer than other professions, such as doctors and engineers.   THAT raised a lot of eyebrows as the possibilities began to open in their minds!  Several asked me if I make a living at art and I told them, “Yes,” and that my life as an artist is what brought me to their lovely country!

Thanks to a suggestion by local artist and art teacher Sally Cunnington, my hostess (and Sally’s artist mother) Janice Ailwood and I asked the children and teens to choose an artwork in the exhibition that made them feel some emotion and use it as inspiration for their own creations.  We were all thrilled at how well they took to this.  I really love the freedom and joy in young children’s art!

I include a few images (not showing any kid faces) and have a few more of Facebook.  I loved this little girl with pigtails’ posture as she drew a mermaid.  Not unlike my own, perhaps, although she is way more flexible than I, even before my spine injury.  [The image of me was taken by Ayfer Mills in March 2014 in Florence, Italy.]

The kids copied the grownups art, other youths art, and a few went off on their own way and drew what they wanted with the inspirations already in their heads.  We must have seen hundreds of kids over a three day span and it was wonderful!  In general, the response here has been overwhelmingly positive and I wonder what sort of long-term impact our work here may achieve. 

I asked a few of the kids in our last class if they could hold their art up to the artwork that inspired them, but not show their faces to protect their privacy.  Isn’t it lovely how different their designs are from the original? 

This last image is my last sunset for this visit to Sarina in Queensland.  Next stop . . . Tasmania!

Thank you for reading and sharing the journey.