For those of you who have been in earshot you’ve heard my tales about the young people who I have been blessed to enter my life and studio. Broken, underserved, defeated, scared, angry, confused, abandoned and homeless with slight expression they enter my world.
Only in this writing do I access and use such labels. I’ve found that if I intentionally choose to see these young people as creative, imaginative, sensitive, amazing souls and believe that my light is powerful enough to penetrate, through the lie these children have become, I will expose the truth in who they came into this life-form to be!
I share a recent story to show how it all unfolds…
When I met her she wouldn’t allow me to take her picture. Every project she worked on quickly and efficiently with pride she measured off each line and got It all “perfect.” Steadfast she didn’t want my feedback to add or layer she was “Finished!” her work was calculated, geometric and controlled…SAFE! As we embarked on her next assignment, I ask all young artist to complete an “Artist Statement”, (it is my way to get these young people to talk about themselves), she like many have very few words unable to access any pride for themselves it became an awkward and fruitless assignment. And so we began a journey together…
At every angle she rejected my invitation to open up and express from the deeper recess of her mind. She got annoyed with me as I continued to find that special carrot that I could place, just outside the shell of her artist mind, which would inspire her to edge out and breathe life into her creative self.
Fortunately, my rebel artist archetype is like Joan of Arch. My commitment to the Artist is rooted deep in my ancestries and their young logics have no will greater than my love to see them freed. As this young spirit checked off another project I rejected her offer of completion and stood my ground she dive deeper. One more brush stroke, one more found object I firmly requested she give me one more piece of her creativity on this project. We batted our words for weeks back and forth until I finally offered her a deal she couldn’t refuse. “If you will go deeper and share more of yourself on this piece, walk with me and allow me to guide your path I will make sure this piece makes it to the Mayor!” And then she was off…she took on the mission and then took over my role too! She no longer needed me to push her she now was telling me she wasn’t finished the project wasn’t complete. She had more to give more to add as idea inspired more ideas her work flooded out of her.
Her artist had been resurrected. Her artist heART was beating and bleeding out into the world. This project lead her on an amazing story when her piece made it the walls ofMayor Betsy Price’s office and then Betsy wanted to meet her new favorite artist! Totally overwhelmed with pride and self empowerment this young artist now adjusted her dreams to align with her new reality. She declared on video “I know my favorite artist my favorite artist is me!” Then she told everyone who would listen about her work, her time with Mayor Price and the new story that she was now author of her young life.
Sparked by the inspiration and light shed on her she claimed a larger project inspired by her greatest dream. She embarked on a 4 foot cross which would take her months to complete. We started to volley again as I encouraged her to keep working through her now resentment of declaring such a large project. Myself and other volunteers (to include my 8 year old daughter) sat with her created with her added to her project. Her artist was thirsty and we brought her water, when the road got dark we shed light on her path to encourage the continuation of her journey and reach her destination. Just like my motherhood with my own children being the platform for success became the very stage this young person needed to put out the performance that would forever change her young life.
She finished this arduous and complicated project. And then I come in and do my part of this collaborative process. I take her hard work and expression and complete her story as I would my own work. I see her work as equal to mine. She has bleed from her artist veins a beautiful creation as her Regent artist I take the work beyond where the young artist is yet to travel. Finalizing the piece into a work that is not of a fledging artist but one that can hang amongst the great pieces of ones collection. What this did for the young artist was give her feedback her work matters and is celebrated. It gave a shield to stand behind and story she could tell. Her super powers have been activated!As the cross made it through completion and onto the studio walls it gave the next layer of growth. As the public admired and desired to meet the artist she proudly would leap from her current work to engage these strange people and there questions about who she is and why she creates. Her dream enlarged from the early projects she announced straight A’s and now she pronounced her desires to exchange this piece of work for a college fund. Even rejecting an early offer that didn’t align with her lofty dream.
She continued to create new work and eagerly share about her main work for months as people circulated around this dynamic piece. Being the resident artist of Crocket Row gave this piece a platform for the community to fill this young person emotional bucket while she practiced the art of connecting with many different types of people. I know that this very practice will support her dream of attending college and becoming a doctor!A couple weeks ago on a normal Saturday night my studio was open and my young artist where busy crafting up new works. All eagerly anticipate there next sale. Just like most children they are spending the resources before they are materialized. College funds, new shoes, a fish and new clothes where in the conversation this particular evening. And then a woman entered our space with 3 generations of her family. She was deeply moved by the work both obvious and subtle that was transposing before her eyes. At dinner that evening the family had discussed what she was seeing before her…art being used as a conduit for healing and growth. She picked out her favorite piece that large cross at the front door and immediately I summoned the young artist to share her story and speak about her work. Which ended with an offer that was exactly the number declared it would sell. Headed to San Antonio we both celebrated that even our dream had been trumped by a generous universe that had even more in store for us! When the email came into my office with the shipping address signed “Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology” it was as if the angels winked at the work that was being done in this small studio in Fort Worth, Texas. Me, an untrained outsider artist facilitator, with a dream to support the collective consciousness by connecting us all with the creator which resides in us all and my young people who have found a new way to express their life story through a path I invite them to travel with me. The spirit of generosity shrouds over me for this work that has been bestowed on me to provide, all those who have generously become partners to nourish and see it expand, and to the courageous young people who inch out of their fears to vulnerably trust that expressing their heart will be received by a generous and safe community. If you made this far in my story I invite you to add what you can to see our world transform into a place where we all can connect through our creative expressive selves. Are you dreaming? Are you sharing your dream? Are you fueling those dreamers around you with encouragement; money, time, words of affirmation, physical volunteerism any source of nourishment that will fan the internal creative fire. This is just one of many stores I’ve had the privilege to experience first hand in my life. Can you dream with me to see these stories multiply into our consciousness as the collective starts to live beyond the individual dream handed to us from the past into a world that only the conscious dreamer can travel!
BeArtSee is a Non Profit organization using the labor of art for social change. BeArtSee Studio is located in the Crockett Row Development at 827 Currie St., Fort Worth, TX 76107 through the collaboration of local Fort Worth Artist Brandi Cottingham & Vestar Development for Carlyle/Cypress West 7th LP. Jeanine’s college fund as been matched by Fort Worth Business Regent Services owner Bryan Walsh who continues to be a committed supporter of this work and these young artist.
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