Art uplifts me; it refreshes, heals, and inspires. Art makes me laugh, cry, and think. Sometimes it frightens me. It makes me see things with new eyes. I may be seated in the audience, immersed in making art, turning the pages of a novel, or traipsing through galleries or museums, but no matter my level of involvement, art changes me.
I marvel at the talented performers at our local Spotlight Theatre, where I saw the most recent offering, Sweeney Todd. It was amazing to watch as the actors brought their characters to life with mannerisms and body language that transformed them. With a few changes in her posture and, I’m sure, attitude, a young actress became an aged bird vendor in one scene and a pregnant woman soon after.
A few days later, I was weaving my way through the crowd of fans to see the Bakersfield stop of the “So You Think You Can Dance” tour. Brother John had arranged for our tickets, and we found ourselves a mere six rows back on the floor level at Rabobank Arena. We could feel the music and see the dancers’ faces, able to note their expressions and subtle changes. The troupe’s intricate precision moves, coupled with the pulsing rhythms of high-energy music, thrilled and enlivened the audience. We danced in our seats.
I’m no artist. But, my occasional forays into the world of creating visual art have been satisfying. One Saturday morning last spring, my friend Madeline and I tried out one of the many workshops offered by Mercy Hospital’s Art for Healing program, “Your Creative Muse.” The facilitator helped us tap into our creativity in a relaxed, nonchalant atmosphere. As we scribbled color on a page, stress faded and thoughts just came and went, much akin to meditation. Guided to close inspection of our finished pieces, we began to see shapes and patterns in the scribbles. That was just the warm-up. Soon, we were making abstract art greeting cards using the same method, proudly showing off our designs and complimenting classmates’ creations.
In October 2010, Judy and I gathered some scrapbooking supplies from home and drove down to Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles to take part their “Home, Sweet Home” interactive art installation. Their concept of creating a neighborhood from scratch encouraged creativity and vision in constructing a miniature neighborhood in Los Angeles with participant-made buildings -- houses, apartments, and businesses of all kinds. Just as fascinating was how the visual art led to performance art as we got into character, playing the part of the fitness center owners and community members. We did a “radio interview”, gave a Zumba demo, talked with the “mail carrier” and got right into the game. Adults at play.
Art brings joy, beauty, ideas, fun, and sometimes a respite. Participating in the arts is something I do to help keep art available for everyone in our community, especially our youth. But, when I think about it, I realize, I’m doing it for me.
~ xoA ~