Alki Elementary Celebrates 100 Years

Alki Elementary, 1912 – 2012   Artist Residency Fall 2012

“Art is not a thing, but a way.” – Elbert Hubbard

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This fall I worked as artist-in-residence at Alki Elementary in West Seattle.  It is the 100 year anniversary of the school, and I wanted to honor the centennial year with the theme of community and collaboration in art.

Over the course of 4 weeks, all the students in the school drew, painted, and created collage pieces.  Our work culminated in an all-school art show.  In the next few weeks, I will be creating a collage panel featuring student artwork, to be installed at the school.

For this program, I took a collaborative approach to art-making in a way that connected all the students of the school to one another.  I decided to create an all-school community collage bin.  Inspired by the process of artist Eric Carle, students grades K – 5, created a series of abstract, pattern and texture-based paintings to donate to the all-school collage bin.   The children will see bits of his or her paintings transformed into flowers, houses, skyscrapers, creatures, and more.

Through the community collage bin, they learned to share their art with others, and that together we can create something more hopeful, beautiful, and magical than anything one person can do alone.

Thank you to Alki PTA, Ms. Oatis, wonderful staff, and many volunteers for supporting the arts in public schools.

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TWO Art Shows and the Courage to “Take it to the Second Floor”

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TWO art exhibits in the same week?!  It’s all because I agreed to be interviewed for a doctoral dissertation on the need for courage in creative work.  Sigh.  Now that I’ve gone on record exploring this idea, I guess I can’t let fear get in my way.

In 2011, I was approached by Sibel Golden, Ph.D, LMHC, a (then) doctoral candidate in psychology who was writing her thesis on the role that courage plays in creative work.  I am one of three artists she interviewed for her thesis.  She has been to my studio, seen my work, knows my walls are filled with art.   How could I be the subject of a doctoral thesis on courage in creativity, but allow fear to keep me from hanging my work in her office?

Then another opportunity fell in my lap to hang some work in the West Seattle Artwalk.  I looked around my studio, wondered if it was enough for two shows, and thought “Oh well, I’ll just hang up some of the artwork that’s hanging around my house.”  No biggie.  Since we’re talking about courage, what excuses do I really have?

Is it finished?  Not even close!    wewilltakeflight

In my recent work, I’ve been challenging myself to push beyond the place where I usually stop, inspired by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, a mixed media artist in New York City.  I’d been following her “Take it to the Second Floor” challenge, an invitation I felt personally compelled to respond to in my current defiance of fear and the safety of my comfort zone.  For the past few weeks, I’ve taken down most of the work from the walls of my home, and pulled works out of storage I haven’t looked at in years.  I’m looking at it with fresh eyes, and working over the top of varnish in many cases, transforming pieces that had been “finished” years ago.

Ms. Fei-Fan Balzer’s prolific production and courage to share is an inspiration.  She makes art and shares her work every day.  While I’m nowhere near as frequent a blogger as she is, her energy and enthusiasm for the creative process often propel me to my art table and easel where I can play, create, and make a mess without fear.  Now if only I can be as courageous and enthusiastic about putting my work out there as she is.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep.”  – Scott Adams

Art show details:

West Seattle Artwalk – December 13 – Better Builders, 4800 SW California Ave, Seattle, WA  98116  (December 13, 2012 – January 8, 2013)

Blakely Wellness Center, 2901 NE Blakeley St. Ste 3B, Seattle, WA 98105  (December 16 – indefinitely)

Come artwalk with me on Thursday night!