Monthly Archives: August 2012

stART some hope and healing.

stART some hope and healing.

I champion stARTistry because I believe it will change the world. Starting things makes us stronger, smarter, lighter-of-foot and more creative. Best of all, stARTing has healing powers.

I am reminded of this when I conduct art therapy sessions at a local domestic violence shelter. Each time I gather with these courageous women, I learn something new about the power of new beginnings.

Every few weeks, I hold a class of 6 to 8 women who are housed in the shelter with their children. They have left their homes and belongings out of fear, with no plans of returning. They arrive to reside in small, no-frills rooms with no thoughts of beginnings – only of ending what is unbearable.

Most of the women show up to art therapy reluctantly, at the encouragement of a case worker. They begin timidly – too timid to ask questions or make choices of colors or projects. Sometimes I have to push their hands to make a first brush stroke.

But once they begin, they seem transformed. They begin moving forward with an adorable, awkward confidence. One by one, they begin contemplating what they really like and what they want to do next. They feel the power of choosing and creating and the permission to start over. Some rush hungrily to churn out several small works of art in the limited time, because the materials in front of them will soon be gone. Likewise, some struggle thoughtfully to choose just the right idea, because the materials in front of them will soon be gone.

Recently, at the suggestion of a shelter volunteer, I led the women in making a group painting to brighten the wall of a common room. We used real paints on real canvas to make something beautiful and enduring! It was very exciting for these new artists. And working together made for a different kind of healing experience.

Tree of Hope, a collaborative painting by the women at Newhouse, a Kansas City domestic violence shelter.

Collaborating made stARTing easier for most. It made some people want to show off, to try make their part of the painting the best. It made others want to start their own painting. It turned others into encouragers, cheerleading the timid and super talented. Clearly, it had been too long since these women had shown off or encouraged or started their own work of art. The hour was truly magical.

Helping others to the healing powers of stARTistry is as good for the teacher as it is for the student, and I highly recommend it. If you have the chance to help someone stART something, skip the formal curriculums and try these three simple steps:

1.Invite.

2.Demonstrate.

3.Encourage.

Simply ask someone to join you, show them how, and keep the positive feedback flowing. And never underestimate the healing powers of stARTing!

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Street stARTists redirected

Street stARTists redirected

 

Street art, graffiti, city sketching. I love it. And I hate it. With its raw energy and creativity, artistic tagging is a pure form of stARTistry. But creating on other people’s property without their permission is a pure form of destruction.

The most regal of cities struggles with the problem. On a recent trip to Paris, the proliferation of graffiti was tragic. Sweet, pristine corners of the city were marred by art out of place, and buildings that have stood for centuries were scarred by ghosts of paint residue or bleach blotches from repeated cleaning.

Social stARTists in many cities have come up with ways to redirect the creativity of urban artists. I’m a fan of StreetCraftLA, who gives artists an incentive to move their art from walls to canvases or t-shirts. As this fastcoexist video shows, once again, capitalism and stARTistry make happy bedfellows.

One man’s stARTistry is another man’s shopping opportunity!

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Sidewalk stARTists – gotta love ’em!

Sidewalk stARTists – gotta love ’em!

stARTing a conversation on a storefront in Cambridge, MA

What is better than a random act of stARTistry? One that invites everyone to play. This weekend during Kansas City’s monthly First Friday arts celebration, I happened on to a chalk-provided graffiti experience asking passers by to think and tell: “Before I die . . ”

It reminded me of a recent afternoon in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when I happened onto a vacant storefront that had stARTed becoming a post-it chat room. In this case, one had to arrive prepared with Post-its and a writing instrument. A true stARTist will always travel with both.

August First Friday in KC Crossroads

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StART the thing only YOU can stART!

StART the thing only YOU can stART!

 

“Innocents Tossed”
by Becky Blades

We each bring a unique set of material to our creations.

When I began making mixed media art, I learned that the junk I had been collecting and the ideas that I came up with were as personal as fingerprints. Then, when I showed the work, each viewer made it something different by looking at it through her or his lens.

This piece, which for me was about trying to decide what I wanted to do next with my career, was to one viewer about how she felt when her parents divorced. Wow. She should be stARTing a painting or a poem of her own, right?

What do your experiences, skills, and connections allow you to make that no one else can? What is that thing that only YOU can stART?

And what will it be when it is viewed through the lens of another?

 

 

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StART a Prayer in 3 Easy Steps

StART a Prayer in 3 Easy Steps

If you want to stART something today and you’re feeling like you don’t have a prayer, stART one. Here’s how.

  1. Get God’s attention. You already have it, but beginning with a “Heavenly Father” or “Dear God” or “Yo, big guy” will get you in the mood.
  2. State your business. Tongue tied? Try starting with “I was just thinking . . .”
  3. Sign off. While “amen” will always be standing by, don’t be afraid to update your creation with a generation-appropriate salutation: “you rock,” “catch ya later,” or a simple “word.”

Sample prayer:

Yo, God. I was just thinking . . . great job on that sunrise today. You rock.

 

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