Last week, we had an Art Symposium at our school. Friday night we got to hear from Paul Hebblethwaite who is the head of the Salvation Army Alegria in LA, Charlene Melhorn, a working artist in Philadelphia, PA, also working with Build A Bridge Foundation (more on this later). On Saturday morning, we had the pleasure of hearing Janet Echelman-an amazing artist who showed us some of her huge "net" pieces, and we also heard from Lynn Aldrich, an amazing working LA artist.
I absolutely loved what all of these wonderful men and women had to say, but I will just talk about a few things that I especially enjoyed. On Friday night, Charlene Melhorn spoke, a graduate from our school who is doing some awesome stuff with kids in Philadelphia. I was inspired by what she had to say, because I myself love working with kids-as well as people who come from bad backgrounds or what have you. One of the things she does is over the summer, she put together this day camp of sorts for kids to come to where they would learn things about art as well as nature. It is called Artology and is through the program buildabridge.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9zlRy-sffM
Charlene was saying, Philadelphia has a great park system, so they would take the kids out into nature to examine and explore the world that they live in. While they are exploring nature, part of this program also has the kids exploring art. In the past, at the end of the summers, Charlene would work things out and they would show their work in galleries in Philadelphia. It was such a cool thing to hear about and how she was helping kids in her community experience and learn new things that they may possibly want to pursue in the future. By starting this program, she is giving children a future of hope and possibilities that they may never have even thought about before. She shared with us a quote that I loved by Graham Greene, "Children, as all humans, will seek creative acts, constructive or destructive, depending on the circumstance or opportunity given them." I think this is very powerful, because some of these kids may have gone out to do other things, or have been left to sit at home, but now they are put in this environment where they can learn and explore new things and be creative all at the same time.
One of the other artists who came and spoke that really inspired me was Janet Echelman. Her work that she showed us was amazing! I could not imagine even beginning to think about how I would start to produce a piece that huge and with what supplies to do it. I really like what she had to say about one of the pieces that she was working on for Portugal to put in a public area by the water. She said that her work is successful if the people feel like its theirs. I thought that was a wonderful idea. If you are making a work of art in a public place, you want the people of that are and community to be able to connect to it and to be able to call it their own. This was what Janet talked about doing as she created these beautiful pieces for these communities. She talked about how it brought them together and I thought it was a very cool thing. Here is a link to her piece she did for the community in Portugal. http://www.echelman.com/site/portugal_project.htm l