Making Art & Beauty • by April Meeker
“Incompetence” Turned Opportunity
In the third grade my teacher became frustrated that I mixed up my B and D. She didn’t like me much to begin with, and she took this opportunity to put me in my place by taping down a big sheet on my desk with a Bb and Dd. It mortified me, being out there for all to see. It felt like scarlet letters all my own. Proof of my incompetence.
I struggled in this woman’s class. It wasn’t a happy place for me. At Christmas time we were given an art project to work on. We were given specific instructions on how the pieces were to go together. The thing is, I didn’t really agree that my Santa should look like that. So I put him together the way I liked. Of course this didn’t fly with the teacher. She kept me in at recess to redo the project as per her specification.
This incident was the best thing to happen to me that year. It got me through and I’ll tell you why. I knew in my heart that my Santa was better than the one she had assigned. I knew this without a doubt. This meant that she was wrong. She didn’t know everything. All at once I saw myself on an equal playing field with her. It was almost like she shrunk down to my same size. She was still the teacher, but she was wrong. I wasn’t dumb or disobedient just because she said I was.
Making my Own Happiness
Of course this was just the beginning. Years later I have many stories to tell about how my own art or the art created by others has buoyed me up through stormy seas. Recently I have felt inundated with bad news. Controversy. Turmoil. I had to take a break from media and news. It all became just too much. I made a conscience decision to turn to art.
And I thought to myself: Self, let’s do happy. Let’s do innocent and beautiful and organic. I stood in front of a blank canvas and out came a bear. Then came a fox and an owl and before I really knew it, I was working on a full-blown woodland animal project. Because, after all, woodland animals have nothing to prove. No political point to make. No unnecessary violence.
These woodland animals are saving me. They are a force in my life bigger than any news story. They have taken on a life all their own. Hopefully, they will carry me through until the time I am able to face the ugliness of the world without getting overwhelmed.
And just maybe they will bring a little beauty to someone else too.
To learn more about April Meeker, visit secondsisterdesigns.com.