Through 50 Years by Sharon Stanley
Has your life been changed by the power of art for good? is the Crescendoh question that catches my eye as I browse Jenny's site. As I begin to reflect on it, my mind drifts back through 50 years.
I AM 6
I am 6, seated in front of the TV with my shoe box of crayolas, construction paper and a few paper doilies. Captain Kangaroo takes down his own shoe box of crafty goodness and begins today's project. I cut, paste and color my way through this, and countless other mornings happily "pretending" to be an artist.
My mind fast forwards to high school art class. Little has changed really, in my world of art. The crayolas have changed to clay and paint perhaps but the feeling of "pretending" to be an artist is much the same. It's the 70s and everywhere you look, color and styles scream "do your own thing." It's thrilling just to be experimenting with beads and decoupage and this new "express yourself" person I am becoming enjoys all of it.
I blink and it's the 80s ... As I plan my wedding and move to the farm, I busy myself decorating my new home with stenciling, needlework and quilted creations, once again "pretending" to be a bonafide artist injecting a bit of myself into this new way of life. In a few years, we add a little boy to our family, but the charmed Beaver Cleaver life I've lived up until now, screeches to a halt. There is a problem and this child is "handicapped." Art takes a decided back seat to daily maintenance and doctor's visits. When time allows however, I pull out that shoebox of craftiness, now a closet of paints, ribbons, fabrics, paper and other assorted finds, and escape the weariness of worry with a bit of cutting and pasting. As he grows, I delight in the "artwork" sent home in his little pre-school bag place there by caring therapists and teachers...the traced hand-turkeys and carefully strung macaroni necklaces.
But once again, life takes an unexpected turn, and the object of our love and attention is taken from us suddenly. The inconsolable grief has us in it's grip. The shoebox sits untouched on the closet shelf. Months and months pass and I realize if I am to have any semblance of normalcy return to my life I have to make an attempt to move forward.
Out comes the shoebox once again in the form of a small gift basket business. Ever-so-slowly, glimpses of joy return as I source goodies and craft doo dads I know will be fun to receive in these brightly wrapped baskets. More years pass and I am pregnant but forced to spend my last 10 weeks horizontal on my sofa with only infomercials and fear for company. The shoebox comes out this time in the form of handsewing and doodling. Soon, our son is born healthy and happy but much more interested in tractors and cows than paints and paper. A second one follows and the true joys of motherhood, homework, play and farming intervenes. Once again the shoebox sits lonely on the shelf. But then an idea forms in the back of my mind.
In my "spare" time, I frequent thrift shops buying up unwanted treasures tossed out by those who cannot "see" the potential that lies dormant in the piece. My now-retired handy-man father and I re-purpose these finds into funky "art." My sweet spouse makes a huge concession allowing me the use of a barn in which to hold sporatic sales of these now desirable finds. I channel my 1970s self by painting and sewing and hammering and building with 2 small but willing helpers. Wildly popular, these sales scratch my creative itch for a number of years as I "play artist" once again.
ART HAS BEEN A CONSTANT
It's now been over 50 years since that 6 year old first opened the shoebox. The little helpers are now grown. The shoebox is now taking the form of children's picture books. It's so exciting to have a new project. Next year I will have the pleasure of seeing three of my picture books published. So I ask myself the question Jenny asks...How has your life been changed by the power of art? For me, art has been a constant...like faith, family and friends, always steady, always changing but always there waiting to be lovingly taken down off the shelf. I think Captain Kangaroo would approve.
Learn more about Sharon Stanley at www.sharonstanleywrites.blogspot.com.