Neighborhood Arts 150 assitant artist Lisa Flick shares her experience with the Wisdom of Trees open workshops in the Beaverbrook Library:
I feel like there is a sound of “visual art”. There is that distinct silence that happens when people are focused on making a colourful design. I love that sound. This said, happy and quiet conversations spring up between the participants during the workshops. Kanata Residents of all ages are drawn into the Wisdom of Trees workshops where they are asked to reflect on the symbolism of trees in forests in comparison to themselves in their communities, then they are asked to draw a tree on a mylar triangle.
A mother and daughter come in together who are relatively new to the area. We begin to chat about what brought the family to the area. Her response comes with an experience-based counsel:
“Lisa, remember this: no matter where you live, the thing that counts is the people. I moved here to Canada and sure – the winters are tough – but you can put a coat on and you are all set. Where I used to live, we had mountains, beaches, great weather but people just felt too competitive, too money driven. Here, the kids don’t have four hours of homework in grade four, it’s more relaxed, more friendly.”
It felt so rewarding to hear the reflections and appreciations for Canada’s culture move around the table. “Welcoming and relaxed neighborhood environments” were elements of our culture that participants cherished as well as multi-lingualism. Several kids at the table chattered about their great visions for their artworks flowing seamlessly between French and English or Mandarin.
In these multi-generational family discussions, many parents would come into the workshop thinking only their kids would do the art. Some parents said: “Oh! I can’t do art” However, with the supplies set out before them and some gentle reassurance, they – perhaps reluctantly, began. That’s my favourite part! I love bringing people to break through their inhibition to drawing or painting and realising that they are indeed able to create something beautiful just by putting colours on a page. That’s the place to start art. By just starting. Creating with little skill and experience is still creating.
Our goals for these projects were beautifully simple, yet things we really believe are important to take the time to consider: our gratefulness for our communities, and to become reaffirmed in our personal identity in regard to others around us. We also want to pause to give some recognition to a beautiful staple in Canadian landscapes: trees! I noticed how much I disregarded Canada’s incredible greenery when I went traveling and it would be a shame if we Canadians came to take the trees in our communities for granted. We are really enjoying the workshops for how they are so fully reaching these goals. We hope that the gratitude participants connect with during the workshops sticks with them as they go about their daily lives in this refreshed attitude.