A few years ago, my children’s school cut the art program. Technically they moved the teacher into a classroom and never hired someone new for the position. While I grieve that decision for our community, I am pushed towards action for my children. Two weekends ago we drove the hour between our home and Grand Rapids to take our children on our annual pilgrimage to see Art Prize. On the way down we listened to a magic tree house episode Vikings at Sunrise, the story transports the two kids back to the dark ages and time of the vikings. Jack the young boy defines “civilization” as, ” when people have books and art and good manners.”
Here is some of what we experienced in our three-hour visit… children busking. Multiple street musicians. Performance artists. Jugglers. Hundreds of pieces of art. Sculptures made from recycled materials. Sculptures made from nature. Works in progress. “Mom, why are those people talking with their hands?” Compassion. Knitted objects. Murals the size of buildings. Scale. “Why are there so many dark-skinned people here.” Diversity. Art in the streets, taking over squares. Art in museums, galleries, parking lots and alleys. People. Crowded sidewalks and bridges. People interacting with art. My children interacting with art. Life engaged.
At the end of the day, it is not the government’s job to provide opportunities and the schools job solely to be teachers, It is ours, the parents, the people, the church, the community. We make the opportunities, we write the books, we teach the lessons, we display the manners. We don’t need more titles to give, help or teach, we need to make the drive a priority. I am learning to be an intentional parent, about exposure, creating opportunities, teaching and correcting. In essence I am learning the art of engagement.