Art class in high school was a haven for me. It was one of the first places I got to touch clay, explore other mediums including batik-fabric dying and drawing with pen and ink. I am still in contact with my high school art teacher Winnie Owens-Hart who continued her teaching career at Howard University. Her encouragement helped spark my artistic voice that continues through this day.
High school in the 1970s coincided with many social and political issues including the continuing struggle for minority rights, the Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal and the Oil Crisis. It was the beginning of my awareness of the larger world outside myself. I participated in protests, listened on my battery-operated radio to the Watergate hearings as a lifeguard at a local hotel pool an entire summer, and sat in long lines waiting my turn to fill up my Volkswagen station wagon.
I make clay art. It’s what I love and can do. So when the world around me feels out of control, I often head to my studio to sort out my feelings and find solace. I think about how I can affect a positive influence when so much conflict swirls beyond my own door. This weekend I hosted a FUNdraising Open Studio to help raise money for a local charity that feeds hungry kids on the weekends. Several people attended, shopped and helped me raise enough money to feed more than one child for a year. It feels good to know I can help even one person through my art.
The election results have brought out strong emotions on every side of the political spectrum. For me, the overwhelming prevalence of hate speech is unbearable. It’s disturbing, unkind and divisive. It’s not the way I want to or choose to live. It's important for all sides to take a breath and listen to each other and then sort through a way to compromise and move forward. That is democracy.
So what can one person do to counteract the vitriol? It’s hard to know. Stay kind. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. Listen to opposing views. Stand up for others who are marginalized. Don't participate in the hate. Spread love.
The Golden Rule is paramount in my family and is a good reminder to bring back empathy which is lacking in our discourse today. Coloring by adults has become 'a thing' these days. One of the reasons I like making art is that it gives me time to think. I invite you to copy this image, fill it in with pencils, crayons or markers and remember its positive message. Then, send me a photo of your drawing. I'd like to add it to my own collection of art!