For the last 5 years I've been so pleased to be invited to spend time with the youth who participate in a non profit community program called 'Park Place Child Life Center'. The program, which has a literacy and arts focus, assists kids who have challenges to face on a daily basis. It's run by my friend Charlotte Moon, her husband and their amazing team. April brings the PPCLC Spring Festival and I have the chance to get the kids involved in an art activity that can be part of the celebration.
Each year it's a different group and I never know the ages. This year it was middle school girls.
My schedule only allowed me to be with the group for one afternoon, that's much less time than in years past. The focus of the 2010 Spring Festival is Community. With four hours to 'make it happen' I pulled out a canvas that I had painted in 1989 while on a 4 month solitary retreat on an island...I wish I had thought to shoot the image to show you the before and after but you know how it goes when everything is happening at once and there are time issues.
I offered the girls the idea of creating a tree that would hold leaves that displayed their wishes and hopes for their community.
First they made pencil drawings then they agreed upon the direction they would go and together they drew a chalked image over my work. Aprons on they each dove right in mixing colors and applying pigment from all directions with such exuberance and enthusiam that I wished they never had to stop. While the paint dried they began to cut the tree leaves out of fabric. We had discussed the many ways that leaves shape themselves and when I mentioned that the Redbud tree has heart shape leaves they all agreed to go in that direction. Each of them made a paper pattern and began cutting fabric. The two pieces of fabric were stuffed with a recycled grocery bag to add dimension and then hot glued to close. we would have stitched them but the fabric was mostly upholsery grade and difficult to push a needle through and none of them had ever sewed therefor the learning curve would have meant we needed more time. After the leaves were complete the artists pierced the canvas with an awl and stitched the leaves to the tree.
Here is their 72x48" canvas.