News Witnessing the Magic of Creativity
Time and time again, I have seen the process of being creative change lives. Through teaching and organizing dozens, maybe even hundreds of art events, classes, camps and workshops I’ve noticed changes in almost every aspect of what makes us human. Curiosity, sudden realization, social and self-awareness, emotional investment, mindfulness, sensory development, vocabulary enrichment and a prideful sense of accomplishment. Being witness to such is my passion.
After Hurricane Katrina, I worked as Community Arts Outreach Director for a local arts organization. One of my responsibilities was to bring programming to an evacuation sight for those who left their NOLA homes with no alternative housing. Without hesitation, I can say my time spent there changed my life. Families and individuals were housed in small travel trailers, there was no access to food or work other than 2 bus trips to a nearby store, children were out of school for months and families were separated. No cell service, no access to local news, no answers.
I was tasked with going to the site twice a week to teach “art” to residents ages three and older. Sometimes I’d bring local artists like John Gray (jazz) and Michael Smith (the Toothpick Man) or heritage artists such as Barbara Franklin (sewing and doll making) and O’Neil Isaac (storyteller). Other times it might be Ava Haymon (past Poet Laureate for the state). But mostly, it was me – with very few supplies, trying to provide an outlet to many who had lost everything. And this is where I saw magic.
The kids were eager for anything new but mostly they were eager for attention. Abandoning traditional art lessons, I learned that it wasn’t the outcome of being creative, it was the process. Seeing the pride and freedom to be their own person and create without question is not an experience I can truly put into words. It’s something that must be witnessed.
The adults were no different - once they allowed themselves to join in. Just seeing them work on dolls or paint while telling their stories is something I will never forget. Our creative outlet likely didn’t heal any deep suffering, but for one hour, twice a week they were creating and sharing and had pride in what they were doing.
I met young artists who had no idea of their talent and older residents who had forgotten their talent. One hour of creativity, twice a week changed their lives for just a short while - and mine forever.
The program lasted just about ten months before and at the end when they were moving on, some gave me their art because they had no room, others made cards, and some wrote heartfelt letters. All of which I cherish more than most things I own.
After my experiences there, my focus changed. For the most part (and outside of lessons) I believe it’s not about a great piece of finished art – it’s about the freedom to create. And even in my relatively short time at BREC, I’ve seen it happen! Kids who hated that their mom signed them up for art camp become a fan of creating with clay. Adults who whined they couldn’t paint stood proudly at the end of their class for a photo with their finished piece. Kids who cautiously allow me to guide them in the creative process. And I’ve met so many untapped young artists yearning to be told that what they create and who they are is just perfect!
What makes me who I am is what I bring to BREC Art: My history, my knowledge but most importantly, my passion for the creative process and all the wonderful experiences and outcomes it can bring.
So are you ready to unleash your creativity with BREC Art yet?
Robin M is the Arts Manager for the BREC Art Team. She has been with BREC since March 2019. When not thinking about how art factors into everything(!) she enjoys spending time with friends and her husband, Bryan, writing, reading, traveling and wrangling Joany, her 10-month-old sassy, spicy, energetic, rebellious pup.