Sunday, January 11, 2009

Revisiting the Artist

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

...I Was As a Kid

A few years ago, I drew a picture of an open Caran D'Ache crayon box, containing 16 crayons. Instead of color-names for labels, they included the physical, educational, spiritual and cultural experiences of my childhood that I most valued, from toddlerhood to age 13. I consider them features of myself as an artist because all of them led to self-expression without self-consciousness, to joyful freedom.

The crayons were labeled as follows:

  • G'yupapah
  • Shlof mein kind
  • Drawing
  • Frog's eggs
  • The stone wall
  • Rocks
  • Bike riding
  • Swimming pool games
  • Sashi moments
  • Singing at seders
  • Deb's paintbrush
  • Rollerskating
  • Skiing
  • Disco
  • Nature classes
  • Mrs. Honan.

If I were able to create a columnar table here, I would, but since I'm not, I'll do my best to add, side by side, a translation where necessary; with whom I had the experience; and why it made the list:

  • G'yupapah; a ride and the name I made up for it as a toddler; my oldest sister Deb invented it and provided it; felt in-flight
  • Shlof mein kind; a lullaby; my father sang it to me pre-sleep; cherished 1:1 attention from him and how he would tell me stories then, too, always falling asleep himself mid-plot while sitting on the perpendicular bunk-bed below, which was empty, since my older sister didn't have to go to bed as early as I
  • Drawing; by myself; with friends, Alicia, Amy and at Art classes; enjoyed portraying what I saw, pressing hard on the white sketch-paper and using vivid colors
  • Frog's eggs; found them in a pond at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center and a Nature teacher agreed to keep them and let them hatch in the Nature Center; felt like a discoverer and marveled that my net actually yielded something special
  • The stone wall; on either side of our driveway were woods, which included a Colonial-times stone-wall that my sisters, friends and I used to run back and forth across the top of and use as our jumping off point for swinging when we found vines, hanging from nearby trees; felt like the wall's rocks were part of our family and welcomed our playing on them
  • Rocks; my nana gave me my first piece, clear, though rutilated, quartz and I began collecting in earnest with my friend Amy; felt like I could search for treasure everywhere
  • Bike riding; with my sister Kathy, neighborhood friends; friends, Adrienne, Amy; made me feel free and that I was the master of my own fate and day
  • Swimming pool games; with my sisters, friend J.J. and her little sister Erica; more freedom, and the fun of mixing non-verbal and verbal communication just by being under-water and then above the surface
  • Sashi moments; when my 3rd grade teacher Rabbi Kosowsky encouraged all of us to be like the Biblical commentator Rashi and offer our own interpretations of paradoxical sentences from the Bible -- since my name is Sarah, whenever I provided an original interpretation, he referred to me as Sashi; felt creative, smart, proud, engaged in the learning, a sense of magic, coming from my own brain
  • Singing at seders; with my sisters, mother and father; enjoyed the sound of all of us together; and also was proud to know all the tunes and words for what we sang
  • Deb's paintbrush; my oldest sister never knew I was borrowing it, as she was away at college, but I felt like it was extra-special, since it was hers
  • Rollerskating; by myself, once with my father and once alone, without my mother knowing, in Central Park, when there was an area in the late-seventies, where people skated to disco in a big circle; she thought I was going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art -- don't know how she failed to notice the bulky knapsack I wore (with my sneaker-skates inside); felt like I was flying with musical accompaniment
  • Skiing; with kids from the Stamford Jewish Community Center; again, felt like I was flying, and felt stylish in my ski-clothes
  • Disco; listened by myself, but once, entered and won a middle-school, line-dance contest with my friend Amy; felt transported from wherever I was into the rhythm and cheerful beat
  • Nature classes; by myself and whoever else took the classes; loved walking the trails and learning how to identify the local trees
  • Mrs. Honan; Mrs. Honan was probably my first crush, but perhaps more important, she encouraged and welcomed my creativity, e.g., when my friend Adrienne and I wanted to paint the grooves of a series of worm-hole scored twigs that we had found outside our school in order to sell them for profit, and she was also the Science teacher I had when I won Honorable Mention in the Connecticut State Science Fair, for "Problem: Energy Crisis. A Solution: Wind Power."

Looking at this list and why the items made the list offers clues to the artist I want to be as an adult; when I cull key words from the list above, I see that for my art, I value:

  • Feeling like I'm flying (without a plane)
  • Attention
  • Physically needing to press with my hands to produce art
  • Vivid colors
  • Discovery
  • Being close with nature (e.g., "Felt like the wall's rocks were part of my family....")
  • Treasure-hunting, with treasure being relative
  • Freedom
  • Control over my days
  • Verbal and non-verbal communication opportunities
  • Magic
  • Originality
  • Learning engagement
  • Musical transportation, i.e., feeling transported by the beat
  • Liturgy
  • Singing in community
  • Symbols of artfulness (e.g., my oldest sister's paintbrush, which had various colors caked onto the wooden part)
  • Feeling stylish
  • Being encouraged in my creativity.

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