Art As Nourishment
Published on April 5, 2011
Hansel’s Dad is a principal of a school in Costa Rica. The first time I ever visited–he set it up so I could host a workshop there for the kiddos. He assured me that the language barrier would not be a problem–with the little I know and the amount of English the students learn from first grade on–things would go great.
He was right. And it was lots of fun. And so different from any workshop I had ever done in schools in the United States. For one thing, the whole school participated–everyone was eager and excited to meet the Artist from the US.
Second, the thing that touched me the most, is that parents and grandparents and aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, and even a few random people in the neighborhood came as well–most bearing Art work that they wanted me to see.
I felt like a saint sitting in a chair having to hold and bless babies as people with great love in their eyes handed me a canvas or a drawing that they had done or a loved one had created.
Each person had the same thing to tell me–they were an Artist–or the person whom they loved that they were sharing their work was an Artist–and what could they do to get better.
These were, for the most part, poor people. People who live in secluded parts of the jungle–where actually having paints or nice paper to draw on is not a simple feat. These were people who barely finished grade school if they even did, had little homes squeezed full of children that needed to be fed, and no access to online workshops or fancy Artist retreats. But never once did any of them question if they were an Artist. No one was there looking for validation from me. No one was worried if what they were creating was considered Art or just being creative.
They saw me as a fellow Artist that came from a place of bread and butter–of opportunities out of their reach–all they wanted to know is just how to get better. To be a better Artist, which to them–and many Costa Ricans actually, is a way to even be a better human being.
In Costa Rica Art is part of life. You paint–you draw–you sculpt funny faces out of coconut shells–of course you’re an Artists. No question about it.
Here in the United States, Art is not revered as a part of life. We separate it from everything else–thinking it’s something we need to fit in-make time for-or treat ourselves to.
When I started to see and fully understand that Art IS a natural part of life–not just something to do–my compassion for those that struggle with wanting to be an Artist–with wishing they could find time/money/space to create grew deeper as well.
For me, Art is human nourishment. Simple as that.
And if at all possible, I choose to feed the masses, instead of a selective few.