The following was written by art instructor Roxy Trahan. Roxy is leading our art empowerment classes.
Art In Living: The Impact As Seen Through The Art Instructor
It’s said that our society is the only society worldwide that doesn’t consider the Arts to be a necessary part of our culture. It’s said that a person can travel across our planet and not find another place in which music, dance, and artistic creations are not intrinsically woven into the fabric of everyday life. Rather, the Arts can be found in their traditions and religions, their celebrations of both life and death, their homes and how they choose to adorn their bodies. It’s what makes them whole.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to use my inclination for the visual arts to open the doorways in people’s minds and hearts. It’s funny how we go into a situation with the attitude that we’ll be contributing something… Instead, it is WE who are given a gift that’s too precious for words.
When any of us have been knocked down over and over again, we tend to lose trust in humankind. We expect to have our stretched out hands slapped rather than given something we need. Just imagine having everything taken from you until you feel you are less than. That you are only someone to be considered a burden or ignored.
When we first started planning this regime of classes, we were all so fired up about the things we could do to help empower those who had lost everything, to give them a tangible product that would allow them to learn that they had something beautiful yet to give. We each brought passion and joy to the table, never stopping to think that maybe those we wanted to help most might not want what we had to offer.
Because, if you’ve been knocked down enough, you no longer trust.
So it was that we had no one sign up for our first set of classes. It was disheartening, but I understood. We needed to ask permission of them to let us in.
The Wednesday after the first class should have been held, I was invited to hang out at the Mission… to talk with the group of people there about what I wanted to share. I did so and could see a few faces light up. Once I finished talking, I simply sat there and worked on a painting. One by one a few people came and chatted with me… my smile got bigger and bigger! These people have so much beauty inside just begging to get out. Oh, how I want to help them do just that! One gentleman told me that he had all of these shapes stuck in the right side of his brain, but he didn’t even know how to begin to draw them all. I had hoped that he would come to class the following day, but… perhaps another day, he will.
The next day was the first class in our endeavor. I had four students and that was exciting. A couple of them told me that their case workers had MADE them come. We later laughed about that!
That class session was an exercise that allows us to relax and lets the subconscious take over. We had stacks of magazines and tore out pictures, words, even articles that caught our attention at a rapid pace… no second guessing. Once we had done that, a collage was created on a board. Each person’s was so very different and I could see a light go on in their eyes as they realized that this creation was a part of THEMSELVES. We could all see the individual in each piece and that artist began to talk more and more about what was important to them.
To say this experience was everything is putting it mildly. Words do the experience no justice. We all walked away that day with new ideas, new understanding, new trust and a burgeoning self esteem where none had been before. More than what I taught my class, they taught me a renewed joy of discovery.
My students said that they’re going to pass the word that they love my class. YAY!