Last week, I was a guest artist at Glenview elementary school. I taught some 60 children, aged k-5, acrylic painting and worked with them on self-portraits and landscape scenes.
Next to my lovely table of students sat a group of senior citizens folding plastic bags, cutting and preparing the edges , making “plarn” (plastic yarn), and crocheting the plarn into sleeping mats for the homeless. When I saw them, I wanted to share their story. These ladies take much of their time to make these 3 feet by 6 feet eco-chic sleeping mats for the disadvantaged in Chicago. While moms and other artists have tried to bribe them into making mats for their homes, sunrooms, etc, the ladies refused, stating that this art is reserved for those who need it the most.
These sweet, kind, self-less ladies reminded me that art isn’t just about putting your feelings on to media, or creating a masterpiece to be sold in art auctions or stored in a museum—crafts are often made for people to share with one another, whether it’s the latest trends in ceramics (which you will certainly find at ACE this year), or jewelry or even baskets and wearable fiber arts. Art, after all, is meant to share. It’s finding art in the most unlikely of places that reminds me how useful art can be. True art, in my opinion, is beyond technique, hue and form. To me, it’s about having a versatile meaning and usage so that everyone can enjoy and experience it in their own right.