It has been a great few weeks getting ready to do this project, going through it, and now living in the aftermath. We finished all of the tiling on Saturday, May 26th and then grouted the mosaic mural on Sunday, May 27th. We were all cleaned up by 4PM! Everyone left very tired, but also very full. I said before that I was most excited about the gathering of a whole bunch of people coming together to create something beautiful. Now looking back on the two days of doing the mosaic, I reflect most on conversations that were had, interactions that others tell me about, time w/ some old friends and getting to know new ones, and the "looky-lou's" as the block captain, Jeff, calls those who slow down as they drive by to check it out. There was, and still is, a ton of enthusiasm for the project. A woman in the neighborhood told me that this is the most beautiful thing she has seen happen in our neighborhood since she moved her 11 years ago. It did "happen." It's not just piece of public art work for all to enjoy; the process was quite a creative, beautiful thing itself.
I said in the intro to my blog that I started blogging b/c life is very full here in Hunting Park. My main struggle is that it is all passing me by too fast and too full for me to make attempts to grasp it all for reflection and growth. There is just so much to think about, pray about, talk about, laugh about... This mosaic mural simply has my head spinning. I have never witnessed such a diverse group of people creating art together. I loved the points of tension as well as the points of connection for they both teach me so much about myself and about those who are different than me.
I am learning that I am a very controlling person; I like to know exactly what to expect and I have very strong opinions how things should be done. Maybe you all knew, but I didn't really know that about myself before I started working at Ayuda Community Center. Being involved in Community Arts could be one of the most "out of control" environments possible! Various artists within and without of the community, children, other community members... all together trying to do something... who knows what to expect?? When I was working in the theatre, I always had such a strong framework to work within. There were certain structures in place (budget, industry standards, expectations of collaboration, etc) that I could expect and strive for when they were not there. Now, as I am striving to develop an arts program at Ayuda, everything seems a bit up for grabs. I'm beginning to see the whole POINT of doing are projects within the community setting is to let go of that need to control and let the creativity evolve because of the people who have gathered. I definitely got a taste of that from doing the workshop w/ Isaiah Zagar in South Philly (Spring 06). He is all about the process and holds the product very loosely.
As I do more projects like this, I hope to learn to let go of that need to control my circumstances, bit-by-bit. I think that this is why I am so drawn by this type of work. I have faith in a God that seeks to provide uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and yes even "out-of-control" circumstances for me in order to teach me to look towards Him for transformation. I want to become more loving. I want to choose more often to be kind and gentle. I want to provide a safe place for people to be who they are. I want to be generous and to be a good listener. I think I'm in the right line of work to practice all of the above.