My high school art teacher, who was the most awesome teacher to have during those formative teenage years, would often tell me that the one of the best parts of being a teacher was being inspired by his students. He once thanked me for making him a better artist. I never forgot that. Even back then I pondered what that statement meant, an adult who was nearly twice my age thanking me, a kid, for inspiring him to be a better artist.
I get that now though. I know what he meant.
Mia brought home this little weaving that she made at a birthday party held at the Textile Arts Center and it sort of blew me away. Not in that, “oh look how precious this drawing of our family is”, but more in a “wow, this is a really interesting textile piece and I love the colors that she chose” kind of way. I don’t know anything about weaving on a loom, so my unfamiliarity about weaving fabrics totally heightened the mystery of how she was able to make this in 2 hours. I was really proud of her and she was obviously proud of her work. I also wanted to learn how to weave something myself immediately, and this is what made me think of my high school art teacher.
I’m not a crafty person, which is a bit ironic considering how I used to spend my childhood days. Designing paper dolls with outfits and creating elaborate dioramas were my absolute favorite activity (and I cringe to admit that my 10 year old self was pretty competitive about dioramas at school). Sometimes I feel regretful that I’m not THAT mom. You know, the one who whips out the craft box on rainy days and can lead their kids into hours of “crafting” (I really dislike the verb usage of words like that) and come out the other end with puppets made out of old sweaters and bird feeders from milk cartons. I mean, damn. Sometimes I really wish I were that mom. I have the potential and know how to be, but I will ashamedly admit…I am just too lazy (how awful to reveal that). But this weaving that Mia brought home might mark a new beginning because I’m realizing that the kids’ ability to comprehend and handle activities that require dexterity and patience opens up a new world of art projects. I think I underestimated their abilities because they were “still kids”. I was wrong.
One of the more vivid memories from my childhood is taking painting classes with my mom. I must have been 9 or 10. Our teacher was a big Romanian woman with a husky voice who held small open studio classes in her attic art studio in her house in Queens. She was a chain smoker and had a big black labrador whose tail would wack against the closed door as she patiently sat outside the art studio, wanting to be let in. My mom and I would paint side by side on our respective paintings, hers in oils and mine in acrylics, every Saturday with our Romanian teacher giving us critiques and helping us with our technique. It’s a memory that I think back on fondly and it would be cool to share a similar experience with the girls one day.
Incidentally, I signed the kids up for a week long camp session during the summer at the same Textile Arts Studio where Mia learned how to weave (yes, that’s right. In NYC, many families will have registered for camp already by January. Craziness!). It’s really great to have so many different specialized camps right here in the neighborhood – rock climbing, robotics, skateboarding, video making, textiles. It’s a far cry from the camps that I remember going to in the 80s, where the only thing I can remember was making sure I had the right Jordache jeans and choreographing a musical routine to “Hey, Big Spender” with 20 other girls (um, what?). It makes me want to sign up for a class myself too. And so it comes full circle – the girls are inspiring me to want to create things again, to take classes and have fun while doing it. But more importantly than that, they’re inspiring me to let go of some of the fear of failure that has prevented me from doing so in the past.