I've been working hard on building my business for a few years now - constantly moving forward with new designs, new shows, new shops. But, something happened in November that stopped me in my tracks. The unimaginable happened and the candidate that I thought could never be elected, was.
The week that followed was dull, gray, depressing as I tried to piece together how we had come to this and how we would move forward. And then, much like a drowning victim being pulled out of icy waters, I was revived by the voices of other artists who were talking about what we can do next.
First, I saw an Instagram post from Megan Auman, a jewelry designer and educator, that hit me, like a gust of air bringing me back to life.
"I believe that what the world needs now is more people engaging in art, developing their creativity, and flexing their imaginations, and I know that the more of us who are out there teaching art, the better off we'll all be.
Oh. My. Yes!
Our humanity is rooted in our creativity. Making art connects us to people, creates compassion for our environment, demands that we face our vulnerability and builds empathy.
Megan's call to action got me fired up, but I still wasn't quite sure what that meant for me, personally. What can I teach? I'm a self-taught sewist, so I've always hesitated to teach anyone else how to sew (what if I teach them something weird or wrong?). I ruminated on it for several weeks. (That's my way of working out problems - I let them tumble around in the back of my mind while I do other things.)
Then, a friend of a friend of a friend, shared the work of Stephanie Syjuco with me. Stephanie's protest banners struck the match that turned the initial spark of inspiration into a roaring flame.
Stephanie had shared a google doc with inspiration and templates for creating protest banners and I knew I wanted to make one and I wanted to do it in community with other people. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I have the space, materials and tools to invite local friends in to create banners of their own!
Creating side by side with people I knew and people I came to know better was comforting, healing and inspiring. One family couldn't finish their banners before they needed to leave (to go to a march, of course!) so they brought home materials to finish them. The mom kept me updated with photos documenting their transformation as she and the kids delved into this form of art making and began to see all around them the possibilities for making more art. We are now in a positive feedback loop as we continually inspire each other, personally and artistically and they've been back to the studio again to continue work on their banners.
I'll take more of that, please!
All of this has inspired me to begin a new chapter of my business. I'm still designing new products, working with shops and doing shows, but I'm super proud to announce that I'm now offering banner making workshops. Fabric banners are an incredible vehicle for self expression - they don't have to be political! They don't even have to have words! Using materials that have been reclaimed for upcycling and requiring only simple tools makes it an easy entry point to creativity for people who hadn't previously considered themselves artists.
“I never thought of myself as an artist, but this art, I could do more of.”
— Diego, 12 year old workshop participant
With a respectful tip of the hat to artists who continue to inspire me, I'm excited to inspire others and humbly serve the notion that the more of us who are teaching art, the better off we'll all be.