Monday, 31 December 2012

Crafting up Greatness at PARC

I’m no Barbra Streisand (both in looks and dexterity), so it’s no surprise that whenever craft time was upon us in grade school I would fake an illness, try to stage my untimely death, or eat a tube of glue to induce illness (or death). Craft time was my personal hell, and I avoided its horrid ability to prove just how clumsy and ungraceful I can be well into my adult life. And then I came to PARC.

Which is why I only like crafts that involve alcohol.
See, my original intention was to work in an environment that would support my background in urban studies – a field dominated by the formalities and professionalism of planners, architects, consultants, policy advisors…So you can imagine how much I started to collapse within myself after I was asked to make feathers from tinfoil for three hours. It was a whole new version of self-induced hate after I put everything I had into a dream catcher that ended up looking more like a sewer gyre.

The 'Endless Tree' created by PARC members and staff.
The irony of being handed off into the arms of PARC’s artistic director was not lost on me. I am the least likely candidate to support an arts program; most of the time I have enough trouble staying upright, and any feeble attempts I make to be visually creative usually end up looking like a modern Picaso if Picaso was a paraplegic. It took time for me to understand that the type of art we do at PARC isn’t necessarily about results, but process. I was the only one who cared that my art was pre-school, or that I couldn’t cross-stitch a goddamn cardboard box. We are learning together, and, more importantly, allowing our selves to flow into our craft. It is an outlet and an extension of the stories and struggles of people who wouldn’t otherwise have an outlet.

Nowadays, when I step into the craft room at PARC to paint a giant canvas tree or make ‘wise puppets’ out of clay, I feel a deep sense of purpose covered in a blanket of safe serenity. We begin each session with a ten minute meditation where every person involved can find that place where thoughts turn inward and creativity is born. We sing Celtic folk songs and make non-sensical voices for our made-up characters. We write stories about imaginary markets and creatures born in our heads. But most importantly, we become ourselves and embrace the various multifaceted and multidimensional forms that take shape when people collaborate to make art.  

Warming up at the Sound Choir.

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