This Is Where I Learned About Creating Sacred Space
Published on August 4, 2015
Sometimes I have these mad, wild daydreams that art is going to take over the world. I envision artists dressed in paint splattered jumpsuits lined up in the front of the US Congress teaching all the politicians how to connect with their heart space through a paintbrush. I get giddy thinking that our tax dollars could smear smiles across their stone cold faces as the channel to their intuition blossoms and all that political hoopla bullshit falls away like feathers molting.
Yes, call me odd. But I honestly have these delusions from time to time that the world is going to shift massively and creating art is going to become as commonplace as mindlessly staring at Facebook is.
Truth be told, when I first started teaching art aeons ago I was 152.8% certain that I was going to change the world with creativity. There was no doubt in my mind. That’s why I eagerly signed up for two years of ramen noodles and cheap wine to fuel my way through college again as I pursued an art education degree and worked 20 different jobs. I wanted to be teaching in a public school like glitter wants to be in an art journal.
Give me the masses — the world is mine, is what I thought.
The first public school I taught in was a middle school in Cleveland, Ohio. Teachers and students had to walk through a metal detector every morning and I got to know how the security cop at the end of our hallway liked his coffee. I wasn’t really the teacher-teacher. I was the student-teacher and the teacher-teacher instructed me to sit silently behind her desk for the first few weeks and soak in her “expertise”.
Once that charade was over, and it was my turn to teach, I began by moving all the desks into one big island in the middle of the room. No longer were these unruly brats (as she called them frequently to their face) required to sit in straight lines facing the big boss at the front of the room who was too damn terrified to ever leave her desk and do some real teaching.
So as each chair leg screeched across the floor the teacher-teacher advised me not to do that, which only confirmed my reasons for doing it even more.
When the bell rang that morning and every morning after that, I stood outside the door and shook each young person’s hand, welcoming them by name into the art room. They could choose where they sat, as long as it was supportive of their learning and there was a pencil and paper always waiting for them so they could jump right into sketching or doodling and not waste any precious time.
Interestingly, they always did what I expected of them.
But let me paint you a clear picture. This was middle school and I had students that drove themselves to school already. These kids weren’t just left behind, they were forgotten about, neglected, many of them abused and in and out of foster homes. These kids are the statistics nobody reads about.
So that first day, and every day after that, I taught art while standing, sitting, crawling, rolling, and throwing myself across that island of desks I created in the middle of the room. Once class began, I never stepped on the floor — I was right there center ring with them. I made a complete fool out of myself because I wanted to keep their attention long enough so they could feel my love. So they could know they were safe — but most of all seen and heard and valued by an adult.
This is where I learned about creating sacred space.
No incense, crystals, or drums. No organic catered lunches served on overpriced pottery. No twinkly lights or yoga pants necessary.
All that was needed was the intention to transform the world with art and the crazy willingness to witness greatness in others.
So, sound like your cup of tea?
Than maybe you’ll want to consider joining me in IGNITE 2016.
Lets be paint splattered artists in jumpsuits changing the world together, shall we?