Lately I have been reminded of the wonderful ways art can transform and heal. I have been able to spend time on my own art projects as well as teaching; and I can almost feel myself breaking out of destructive thought patterns and habits. We may not be aware of it, but anything creative be it music, painting, dance or writing sets in motion a healing chain reaction; we are creating new neural pathways to help us understand ourselves and the world. I think though, most important of all, creative enterprise gets us to live in a way that is deeply authentic. It’s a privilege indeed to teach art to children, because I know I am passing on something precious.
I homeschool my youngest son, who is nearly 12. He has dyslexia and dysgraphia. This means that he finds it difficult to read and write; not surprisingly, he is prone to anxiety in learning environments. Being dyslexic also means that his brain is wired differently and he is excellent at problem solving and divergent thinking. Being an artist and an art teacher means that in my homeschooling efforts my son gets more of his fair share of art education. Contrary to what many may think (that I may be neglecting other areas to his detriment); I have been delighted by the way he has been able to express himself through art. Dyslexic people come across challenges in the realm of getting their ideas out, because so much of how we communicate is through language. His skill level has increased out of sight, and he has experienced genuine pride in his accomplishments in art. Part of me feels a bit sad that society at large considers the arts to be ‘lesser’ subjects. If it was valued as highly as maths English and science, my son would have even more to gain from his art. Art is still considered by many to be the subject kids oscillate towards if they can’t do the ‘serious’ ones.
This year, among many other ventures, I want to advocate for the arts. Living in the upside down world we are in this is a tough call. Isn’t it crazy that the things we value as a culture are conformity, logic, ambition and stoicism. If nothing else, these are the qualities you must have to get far in the world. My inner wisdom always brings me back to a place where I must acknowledge the need to just be myself. It’s harder sometimes than others, because people’s perceptions of ‘artist’ or ‘art teacher’ can lead to those stereotypical labels ‘flaky’, ’empty-headed’ or ‘eccentric’. It’s such a shame, since we are marginalising the very thing that brings us closer to God, and also closer to each other. We are all potential wellsprings of creativity. This creative energy is valuable, beyond any human measure. Whether it is expressed through words, encouragements, drawings, recording dreams, songs or stories; we each have something to add to the world that is truly unique. I hope my boy comes to know and value his; and it’s really the quest we have all been given, to be true to the person God created us to be.