Hello, hello! It's been two solid months since I last posted an update that I will be working at Portland Children's Museum as the artist in residence. It's a three month tenure, and I can't believe it's now down to my last month. What a ride it has been!
I knew going in that working with kids will be the biggest challenge of the program for me, and I was right. It also has been the best part for the sheer reason that it has been a challenge.
I think children make the most sublime abstract artists. And while their work may appear abstract to adults like me, to them, there is nothing abstract about it. It is what they believe it is. It is a red, mermaid-eating dinosaur even though to the adults, it may appear to be a clumsily painted red blob. The green streak across an array of bright orange lines is a deep, dark cave in a beautiful forest, where the dragons live and a tiny princess communicates with the outside world on a walkie-talkie to help her mom buy a used car at Carmax. They paint the world that is so singularly their own, you as an adult can't decipher what you see. To enter their universe, you must drink the "special green stew" and walk through "five tiny concrete doors with special locks" as one boy kindly revealed.
I've seen over and over again in the past two months, the parents cheering whenever a child drew something recognizable – even if it's a simple smiley face – celebrating any little moment that suggests a connection between the children's world and theirs. I've been standing in the middle of the two worlds letting my grown-up painter mind be dismantled by the tiny young artists, whose minds are palpably a part of the great unknown that we all once were a part of. It's been the wildest roller-coaster ride. It's been exhilarating and draining all at the same time, every time. That's what happens when you drink that special green stew.
I only have a handful of open workshop days left, if you haven't made it out to the museum with your kids yet. After that, I will be left alone to construct gallery installation utilizing the children's contribution.
I met up with my program director to go over my plans last Tuesday. We are excited. It will be my first official gallery exhibit since I set out to retract my career path as an artist. It will also be my first installation art. You will see my interpretation of the children's world that I've been a part of these past months. I hope to channel their magic and humor. I hope to unlock those concrete doors for you, so you don't have to drink the green stew.