ArtCorps Artist Amy Glasser reconstructs the traditional and local meaning of “art”. Rather than teaching art, her projects teach participants to be creative thinkers.
The meaning of making art is different here in Alta Verapaz. First of all, when people think of who an artist is, they don’t think of visual art–the first thing that comes to their mind is a musician or singer. Second of all, people have a different taste and sense of aesthetics. Generally, people think of squares and coloring between the lines. Art for most people is a Disney icon such as Winnie the Pooh, or a corporate symbol. They expect that all art follows set branding styles, with no self-expression or creativity involved. I am realizing more and more that breaking open the inner creativity of a human can be as impactful as art projects about health or the environment.
When I am asked to draw something for a workshop, I respond, “No, you can draw it.” The drawing may not be as skilled, but it pours from their minds onto the paper. In workshops, I literally tell people not to think, to set their pencil free, to not draw between the lines. Although it is important to know the basics, I feel that it is more important to be able to freely and creatively express yourself.
I had this realization during a fair FUNDENOR organized for all of the communities where we work. The people brought their local products to share and exchange with one another. From handicrafts, to delicious foods, to natural medicines, all was shared. It was a happy event, where for the first time I saw people breaking out of their shell with laughter, food and games. My main responsibility was the kid’s corner, where we hand-painted and made art projects out of recycled material. One of the activities was drawing out of local seeds (beans, corn, sesame, squash, pumpkin and others I can’t name). It was a powerful moment to see the kids immersed in their projects, to see their concentration as they carefully placed the seeds one by one to create their message of cornfields, beautiful butterflies or their community.
There was a point in the day where I started my own seed drawing, and I found myself absorbed in meditative thought. With kids running around, yelling and asking me where the glue was, I was calmly grounded in a creative state. I was making my seed drawing in another reality, where no one else was, acknowledging the chaos around me, accepting and laughing at it, while intricately placing each seed on my piece of cardboard. I realized this is why we make art. It is such an empowering gift to access the creative mind and imagination. This is the opportunity I try to create for each participant in my groups.
I can say that I am facilitating art projects, or I can say what I am really doing, which is helping each individual tap into his/her inner creativity.
Tags: Amy Glasser, Art for Social Action, art project, ArtCorps, artistic expression, creativity, FUNDENOR, group facilitation, Holistic Community Development, Honduras, Institutional Strengthening, Leadership Development, meaning of art