community art

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What else is art for?National Nurses' WeekNational Nurses' Week

I'm so glad you asked. Pull up a porch chair and a glass of lemonade and we'll visit a while. I have some photographs in the collection just for this purpose and, since it's not quite time yet for any of the deep, pithy (it could happen!) posts about next year's planning, we'll talk public art - on the small.

Each artist's pathway to today is a different one. Mine began with a mother who made materials available and encouraged lots of experimentation with color, form, and technique. Alongside that lovely mentoring, though, was another thread that I'll call (for lack of a better inspiration tonight...) lifemarking. A lifemarker is a chance to use art for communicating a specific purpose. Dateline, seventh grade - unable to march (the knees had gone south several years hence) and flyers need to be made for concerts. Graphics? Sure! Learn how to replicate Chas Schultz' cartoons with India ink and poster board and we're in business! Those first couple of posters were fun to play with, and even though I'd borrowed the cartoons, dialogue and design were mine. National Shelly and Iremly WeekNational Shelly and Iremly WeekI never considered things like holiday door decorating contests to be real art, but had a great time pulling people together to work on projects. How we convinced that English teacher to let us build a black-lit cave to be viewed from her classroom door, I'll never know. Manipulating the cardboard, painting the shapes, and stringing the (illegal, I'm sure) wiring for the black lights was a gas.

It's just another type of graffiti, this lifemarking - my band sign hung in the hallway at my high school for years after we graduated, and stylized desert designs graced the trash can containers downtown for at least fifteen years until I noticed they'd been "repurposed" again. That term, by the way - repurposed - simply means that another opportunistic artist has captured your art and put his or her own stamp on it. The giant mascots in the gym graced those walls long after the rivalries ceased to matter to us, and there are even a couple of pictures in ancient history books (read: yearbooks) that document the public painting process.

A corner open house signA corner open house signLifemarking is also great for marking celebrations. Some people respond to announcements of awards and commendations by searching for card stock and a document frame. I head for the artroom, clear off a big table, and start splashing tempera. Better than the bright, celebratory posters and banners that mark our work with kids? Only the smiles of the participants.

My students easily separate my public poster noise from my more personal artistic work. They know that art serves as many purposes as there are events in our day - and they do some fabulous lifemarking of their own!Hanging just inside the front door - a welcome sign!Hanging just inside the front door - a welcome sign!

(More pictures to follow - I know they're in here somewhere!!!)

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