The fixed notion of Community Art is elusive, and yet, community art has been around for centuries. Artists are intrinsically drawn to the world they live in, and for many that means not only viewing but participating in it. As I start my personal journey with Community Art, I intend to find out what exactly it means, how exactly it can be defined, so I can help spread this creative fervor and transform the general public into the creatively passionate.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Being Worthwhile

Most people I know in community art are busy, very busy. This includes the teachers who do art or grad school in their "free" time, the IT personnel, waiters, and software techs who create art at night, and everyone else who finds their lives in community art. Between my two and a half part-time jobs, full-time graduate school, creating my own art, a wonderful boyfriend, and friends and family spread across the city and the country, I don't leave much breathing room for myself.

This weekend is the first time I've had two days off in a row this year. Yet earlier this week I found myself thinking, "Wait, I'm not working Saturday or Sunday? Maybe I can offer to take someone's shift..." Thankfully, I threw out that thought, although it was quite tempting, and that's why I'm sitting in my bathrobe in my kitchen at 3:15 having gotten out of bed less than an hour ago. I woke up at 10, after ten blissful hours of sleep, only to reach out, grab my book, and stay in my bed for another four and a half hours. I released myself into the world Orson Scott Card created in Ender's Game, a world that I knew in my childhood and only now gave myself the time to go back to.

For those four and a half hours I didn't think about my responsibilities, what I should or could be doing. I lay safe and warm under my down blanket, flipping page after page of an incredibly well-written book. There's power in that. In doing something for no reason, with no motivation except the pleasant feeling it brings. I think that's called living in the moment, something I struggle to do. Sometimes I get that when I play guitar, paint, write my own stories, or talk freely with someone I care about; the absence of wanting to be anywhere else but where I am.

What does any of this have to do with Community Art? I swear, I still ask myself this question no matter how much I ramble in these posts. In the rush to do things, sometimes we forget to enjoy things. We think that everything we do has to be worth something, has to have some product. When I lay in bed and read an entire book in a morning, one that I've already read, what am I accomplishing? I'm not making money, spending money, writing that paper I should be writing, responding to my list of emails, managing my budget, writing a new song, revising my book, painting, catching up with someone important to me, or any of other things on the to-do list that constantly regenerates itself. But I am enjoying myself, and isn't that why we do all the other things?

When I start my community art center, I want it to be a place where people can experience what I am experiencing now, the absence of wanting to be anywhere else. A place where they can submerge themselves in the moment, whether its with a paintbrush in their hand, a guitar on their lap, or an incredibly interesting person across from them. It's in these moments that we are truly alive, that all those other things we do become worth it. And wouldn't it be wonderful if all those moments happened at the same time in the same place, so that we could experience them with each other? Enjoying ourselves and each other; creating things, even if they're only good memories. That's what is worthwhile.

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