As it’s always a great time to celebrate the power and impact of art, today I’m sharing a new video of Yellowbird, a poem originally published in my book The Madness Vase. This piece pays homage to the power of creativity and it’s capacity to change our world. In the final stanzas I write:
with his own wet tongue
of a dusty floor of a jail cell if he had to.
We have to create. It is the only thing
louder than destruction.”
Earlier in the poem you’ll hear me mention Emmy, one of my favorite students from my time working in a pre-school. I’d never met an artist like her. She was five years old and could draw a stegosaurus in a bowtie riding a skateboard without ever glancing at her paper. Seriously. The kid could carry on a full conversation, looking me directly in the eye, while creating the next Starry Night. And if that wasn’t enough to solidify how rad Emmy was—she also despised television. Once a month we’d roll a TV into the classroom to watch an educational film, and Emmy would scream or run out of the room, her entire being transformed into an ultimatum, as if to say, The TV goes, or I go! If the TV stays, this classroom loses the planet’s greatest living artist!
I met my best friend Emily while working at that pre-school. She was a far better teacher than I was, and now teaches 2nd grade at an art-focused public school in our city. I recently asked her what she’s witnessed in regards to art’s impact on her students, and she shared so many great points. Here are just a few:
Art creates an emotional response to learning, and whenever one has an emotional response, the learning is deeper and longer-lasting.
Creativity wakes up different parts of the brain which opens us to possibility and imagining things that don’t yet exist. That leads to adults who are innovative thinkers, feelers, and makers––adults who become the ones to envision and implement better and brighter things for our world.
Art helps us better understand humans in communities that are very different than our own. It fosters empathy for experiences we have not personally had.
For many, art such as knitting, pottery, beading, painting, help with emotional regulation and can be very soothing and healing for children who have experienced trauma.
In Yellowbird I write, “Why is art the first class to be canceled by any public school? Why are music rooms empty from New York City to Nashville, Tennessee?” My fondest school memories are memories of something I painted or sang or drew or wrote. We are inherently creative beings. Remember being a kid and drawing countless pictures, putting on a living room shows, adorning your Barbie dolls in Kleenex dresses? It is only later in life that we are told to abandon these parts of ourselves, core characteristics wrongly labeled as frivolous (unless they can be harnessed for profit). But notice the ways you might not be calling the most creative parts of your life, “creative”–maybe it’s in the way you cook your dinner, or the clothes you put on your body before stepping onto the world’s stage. Even the way you make your bed and arrange your pillows might be creative!
I hope you are inspired today to make art of any kind –– whether that’s watercoloring or coloring your hair, writing a song or a special note for your kid’s lunchbox. Plotting a novel or plotting a garden. Here’s to our blossoming, friends. I hope you enjoy the poem.
Love & Ink, Andrea 🖤
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