LOVE'S ARMY - Young Healers
The positive energy pouring forth from Urban Arts Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was matched only by the music and laughter that greeted me as I walked up the steps. Having seen the Love’s Army exhibition last fall I couldn’t wait to see what B/ue Robin had curated with the next generation. My love of art and career in education made me even more excited to see how the future would show the world through their eyes.
There was no theme for the young healers to follow, just their hearts. The artists range in ages 3-12 but do not judge the impact and talent shown in each piece by the age of the artist! Each piece brought color, emotion, and a simple, yet complex outlook on the world. The gallery was filled with family, friends, and joy. Watching the Love’s Army team put the finishing touches on the exhibit reminded me to step back and also take in the small details that created the whole experience. Each artist had their own autograph book that visitors to the show could sign and leave messages. Each received a gift bag full of supplies to create with including custom-made canvases from Canvasthetics and WADLINGTON brushes from Blind Eye Visions.
I began with the top floor of the gallery. What struck me as I walked in was the variety and size of the art. Each piece drew you into the story that these creatives were telling. I made the trip to support young artists but did not know what to expect. The show surpassed my expectations. Each brush stroke, color choice, and technique showed their personality, energy, and ability to tell a story without using words.
Downstairs the pieces continued to draw me in with the story each told. Part of the exhibition was B/ue Robin's interactive piece, Fort of the Knight. It offers an opportunity for all, young and not as young, to step in and create. The piece reminds us of those times as children when we created smaller worlds within our larger world where we could dream, play and design. It made me think about what serves as that place for me today in my life. As I pondered that idea I was drawn outside by the PME Drum Line.
Within moments the sidewalks outside Urban Arts Gallery were treated to a performance that brought people from the gallery and nearby stores streaming out to watch and listen to live music on a fall evening. It also gave me a chance to see the art from outside the gallery. The sun had set by this point and the bright lights and staging were perfect for the art. Although the artists are children this was a professional show. It made me proud as an educator to see the care that went into each piece, and the respect with which each piece was hung and displayed. When children are given a safe and supportive space to create and show themselves beauty happens.
Back in the gallery, I met the families of the artists and my heart was full once more. The love and joy each family member had for their artist were so comforting. Every soul there was there to uplift these children.
Each artist was given time to share their process. Each story was direct and simple in a beautiful way that young people get right to the truth. Whether it was telling about love or mending your heart, the love of a beach and nature, missing a place you used to call home, or explaining that they painted ice cream and their mom because they love ice cream and their mom each young healer stepped up to the mic and took us on their journey. We heard about the support that was given during the creation process, some advice welcomed by the artists, and some not. The truth came out! We heard about how families taught and modeled techniques, helped guide ideas and were there encouraging each brushstroke. We heard about their hearts, their happiness and sometimes their loss. We heard about their color choices, the mediums they chose and the stories they wanted to tell. We heard about learning how to work within our mistakes and of course the importance of glitter. Each child was encouraged by the audience and allowed the space to tell what they wanted of their story. Some were told with trepidation because of the crowd, but what I loved to see was that as soon as they faced their work and not the crowd the words just flowed. Because their work was hung at adult eye level some of our healers had to raise their hands up to show and teach. It reminded me of giving praise and reaching for their goals and dreams. Their pride was palpable.
Providing a place for young people to create and have their creations honored was lovely. Too many times children are not given time to “unplug” and do this. Life is moving so fast that this part of life can get lost. Their stories are important. Their dreams are important. Their voices are important. Keep giving children spaces, time and permission to create. Pour into future generations, your reward will be amazing.
The Experience is just beginning. Below are links to help keep it going.
Special thanks to the family:
ARTISTS: Dionysus, Marlee’Rae, Mya, Cam, Zuri L.T.
GALLERY & PARTNERS: @URBANARTGALLERY @ROCTheBlockFestivals
MUSIC: @ACE_PIANOKEYS @DAPPER724 @WHOUROCKINWIT
SHOOTERS: @THEPAINTEDFOOL @LARRYWRIGHTPHOTOGRAPHY
FASHION: @UBUNTUFINEART @THE_DAPPER_RENAISSANCE
SUPPORT: TEAM B/ue Robin