I was going to use today's post to clean up a few old subjects like the use of melatonin as a sleep aid (it didn't work) and something else I've forgotten entirely, when I read John ("John Sweden") Vedilago's latest comment on the "Fair Hope of Art" post. Now I'm so excited I realize I must get to work on a new project suggested by his work in Sweden. If you didn't get around to checking comments on old posts, I suggest you go to that one now so that you'll be equipped to follow this one.
John was the artist at a small advertising agency where I was employed in New York City in the mid-1980's. He left that job to go into Art Therapy, and worked with a number of community centers all over the city, teaching inner city kids to explore art in order to explore their own souls and contribute to society and better their lives in a real way.
If you've been following this blog you've read John's pithy comments from the beginning, and at least one of them has referred to what he has been doing in teaching art to immigrants and people at all economic levels there. In his last comment he gives details of how this project works in Sweden. His theory coincides with Marietta Johnson's -- that art is not something the professionals do for the entertainment of the few who are smart enough to desire it and willing to pay for it. Art is an essential activity of all mankind. The only ones who avoid it are those who have been abused or neglected on some visceral level and are cases, Mrs. Johnson would say, of arrested development.
John's International Kultivara Kafé Society in Sweden provides art activities to people who have been deprived of the basic opportunity to flourish through the kind of expression only art can provide. Whenever I have posted about Marietta Johnson and the school, John has leapt to the forefront with a comment making the connection between his work and ours at the Organic School. At last I really get it.
I expect to take this forward in Fairhope. I'm scheduled to speak at the Unitarian-Universalist fellowship on October 15, and hope to be prepared to make an announcement about an arts-for-people project then. I have a meeting with parents at the Marietta Johnson School about fundraising events this afternoon, and I'll talk with the director before that to work out a way to incorporate this project into plans for the school. This will be right down her alley -- she is fluent in Spanish and very much in touch with the Spanish immigrant community. As John notes, this is a natural for the school.
There are art classes all over Fairhope already, but nothing like what John proposes. The classes that exist through the local art center are for the wealthy middle class to learn to be "better" hobby artists, even the children's classes. There is no one going into the black neighborhood -- even though the new Gulf Art space sits right on the edge of that -- to engage people in art activities of any kind. Everybody wonders why the blacks do not participate in community activities, but no one is trying to reach them. We think it can be done by just wishing.
You saw it first here, folks. All you readers in the Fairhope area who would be interested in participating, contact me through this blog or some other way -- you can call the school -- and we'll find a job for you.