It began as a painting and drawing class, but this art studio has now blossomed into a space where we can practice our freedom of self-expression in whichever form it calls forth. Our Village has become a place where we gather to celebrate the the gift of time, the blessing of growing old, and the expanded wisdom that can come with it.
Sometimes it expresses itself in drawing.
Claudia’s daughter, Terri, has began joining us. This was the piece she completed on her first day with us. I was struck by its simplicity and the feeling of honesty I felt from it—not a trueness I could describe, but one that I surely felt. And as I stood admiring the piece and its vocabulary of marks and soft smudges from the artist’s hands, her mother said,
"It makes me feel uncomfortable.
I don't like the big X on the window.
It tells me that Terri is feeling closed off from the world."
This, I did not see. After hearing Claudia’s interpretation of her daughter’s drawing, I felt hopeful that there were circles around the door, perhaps describing the movement of a turning knob, either from the inside where the artist currently resides, or from the outside where we are awaiting her presence. Maybe this was an indication that in time, we'd be invited to enter. The tree reaches toward the open window, signifying growth and a place for light to enter. This is a hopeful drawing. And without Claudia’s remarks, I'm not sure I would have understood the significance of this piece.
Among these very special people, I am offered this vast amount of wisdom—these visions and insights that have been collected through lifetimes of experience. We all have something to learn from one another, and no matter how small or vast, there is so much wisdom to be absorbed here. Every Friday, we all gather as students and leave more enlightened than when we arrived.
Sometimes it expresses itself in flowers.
"This art class is where you can go crazy. You can meet friends." –Parker, age 8
FRIDAY NIGHTS ARE "MOMMY AND ME" NIGHTS FOR MARIA AND HER SON, PARKER. HERE, HE USES A FRESH FLOWER FROM THE GARDEN AS A PAINT BRUSH. ONCE THE RESIDENTS ABSORBED THE TRUTH ABOUT THERE BEING NO RULES IN ART, IT OPENED UP A CHANNEL FOR THEM TO BE FREE IN EXPERIMENTATION WITH ANY MATERIAL THAT SPARKS THEIR CURIOSITY.
Sometimes it expresses itself in verse.
Terri greeted me in class one day with pages clutched in her hand. “Trinh, I have something for you”, she said as she handed me over a dozen pages of her poetry, all typed in Apple Chancery font. It moved me deeply that so soon after having met Terri, she would trust me with her heart’s work, and then give me permission to share it here with you.
Here is an excerpt from Terri’s poem, entitled Butterfly Release:
"Both in whisper and trombone…” How did she even think of that? Just beautiful. It speaks on both the gentleness and the power of freedom. Thank you, Terri. I feel these words a'stirring, and they might just manifest themselves in my work--both in whisper and trombone.
And Sometimes it expresses itself in song.
Sometimes it expresses itself in painting.
ABOVE: JOE (A.K.A. JOEY B) SINGS US OFF INTO THE NIGHT WITH AN IMPROMPTU CLOSING SONG AS WE RETIRE FROMT HE EVENING'S FESTIVITIES.
LEFT: IN SHARONDA'S VIBRANT PAINTING, SHE ENCOURAGES US WITH, "DO WHAT CALLS TO YOUR SOUL." THANK YOU FOR THE REMINDER, SHARONDA.
These folks have so much to share. And now we’ve been given this gift of time to connect with one another, to share our knowledge and gifts and stories, to acknowledge each one’s special nature, and to express those things that are nestled within our hearts, to find trust in one another, and to experience this togetherness that holds us close and warm and still.
** Flow free, Friends, and let the current guide you to the place where you belong. **