A few weeks ago My Hero came home from classes (he’s a non-traditional student studying toward a degree after years of living life by the hammer) and told me about the visiting artist who would be coming to town to work with the Art Department for a week. This artist, as he explained, was requesting to conduct the art classes in the home of a family within walking distance of the University campus.
I looked aside at him and asked warily, “We’re a bit too far away for that, right?” He agreed and we may have made a few more comments about the interesting concept of holding art classes in someone’s home before we moved on to another subject. It was another couple weeks before the topic came up again when My Hero mentioned that his art professor was having trouble finding a location/volunteer for the visiting artist project.
I agreed that if they ended up with no other options, we could open our home to the artist and students. And that is how our family became the subject for two drawing classes, a photography class and a creative writing class.
Initially, we didn’t realize that WE were going to be focus of the art and writing pieces created by the students during that week… Or rather, our home and the objects within it were the focus and through those items, our family. It was an odd experience to watch as the students wandered about our house. They studied the family photos on the walls, asked about some of the odd items My Hero and I have collected over the years, played with the dog, and asked the kids about their favorite toys. As I understand it, their assignments were to pin-point items in our house that held some sort of importance and create a drawing or photograph or piece of writing about that item.
To be honest, throughout the week as the students came and went, I felt pride and enjoyment in showing off the details of my family’s life and history, but I also occasionally felt a disturbing twinge of vulnerability. I mean, these people would look at our personal possessions and they would be forced to make judgments based on their brief exposure to our lives. There was no chance to explain or clarify if they got the wrong impression. I had to accept that whatever they took from their experience would be theirs to do with what they wished. I had no control over what may have inspired them or what they created from it. I had to release and accept and trust.
Yea, a little scary for a control freak like me.
At the end of the week, the students’ works were exhibited at the University.
It was amazing!
How rare and precious it is to be able to step outside yourself then turn around to look back in from a different perspective. Images and artistic reproductions of my home and family’s possessions were spread across the walls and filled the space between. And in that setting, via the creative vision of others, I saw so much more than I expected to. Mundane items that I see hundreds of times a day, things I pass by with barely any notice, became beautiful and intriguing. My life and my family’s home is a creative and artistic work in progress.
Everyone should have such an opportunity.