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Friday, December 7, 2012

Who ignited the promise of art in you? BAM staff weighs in.

We spend a lot of time here at BAM focusing on the power of art—how it broadens perceptions, changes minds, opens hearts. But it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how and when that power becomes a part of someone’s worldview, changes the way they think and live.

So we decided to ask BAM friends and fans about the first time the world of creativity opened up for them. To kick things off, we posed this question to a few BAM staffers: Who ignited the promise of art in you? The responses we received were thoughtful and passionate, and we’re thrilled to share them with you here.

Want to join the conversation? Share your story with us! You’ll even be entered to win some stellar BAM prizes: season tickets, gala invites, free movies, the works.

Hope you enjoy our stories, and looking forward to reading yours!

Juanita was my mom's best friend, and my best friend's mom. 4'9" and always in heels, she is an accomplished artist, a bundle of energy, and an absolute dear.

When we were in elementary school in Mexico City, she preempted afterschool boredom by teaching a weekly art class to about 20 of us, all under 10. Instead of popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners, she opted for art history, teaching us about Mexican artists and art forms past and present. We painted Frida Kahlo-style self portraits, made our own paper, and constructed colorful collages in the style of Rodolfo Morales. There was always music, and we were encouraged to take risks, have fun, and get messy.

I can't remember the last time I painted, but my love for Mexican art, culture, and music was undoubtedly cemented in those afternoon lessons in creativity.

—Claire Frisbie, Marketing Manager

When I was in 3rd grade my mom signed me up for clay camp. Every day for a week she would drop me off at a quaint house with a brown bag lunch and I was given unlimited clay and unlimited freedom to sculpt, scrape, bake, and paint for an entire week. I mostly came home with miniature versions of objects in our house, including a replica of our family living room and several miniature toilets that made for humorous bathroom decor. I don't remember her name, but the beautiful hippie with the kiln, who warmly opened her basement to a bunch of neighborhood kids, sparked my imagination.

I don't make things out of clay anymore, but I don't want to imagine what my life would be like today without parents, teachers, or anyone around me when I was young encouraging me to embrace and explore my own creativity.

—Ben Cohen, Manager of Video and Media Production

My elementary school custodian ignited the promise of art in me. He wasn’t your average custodian—he was formerly the lead singer of the Doo-wop group The Cadillacs, and the students in my school adored him. In kindergarten I was cast as “Baby Beluga #3” in our (mandatory) grade-wide play. I was extremely shy, so this show, I vowed, was my first and last. I had one line. “Your line was my favorite!” Mr. Carroll said afterwards.  Those simple words of encouragement opened up a vast world of creativity for me.

—Tamar MacKay, Publications Assistant

My father grew up in Dublin in a well-to-do family whose children all studied Botany at Trinity, and his father refused to pay for his education when he announced his choice to attend art school in England. My mother, in a family full of businessmen, decided to be a potter. Both of them moved to America to pursue what they believed so firmly to be true—that they could make a living creating things by hand.

My mom taught me how to draw Islamic scrolls, and recognize Chinese dynasties through glazes. My father taught me how to carve wood, how to understand people by examining what chair they used at their dining tables. My parents always reminded me that it was creativity that would open doors to the world—and that unique perspective led me to Brown University, to Europe and West Africa, and now to BAM, where I get to facilitate how the arts can be used to connect peoples and cultures thousands of miles apart.

My parents showed me the world through the lens of humans expressing themselves, and they demanded that I have the courage to do the same.

—Sophia Shackleton, Project Coordinator, DanceMotion USA

Who were these outrageous guys who could do any damn thing they wanted? They wore their hair confrontationally long, they had the hippest clothes and seemed to be the wittiest commentators since Oscar Wilde. The young gals screamed, shrieked, and cried everywhere they went. They never seemed to do the same thing twice. Oh yes, the Beatles wrote and performed the most incredible songs about everything (whether I knew it or not at the time) that really was important to me.

—Louie Fleck, BAM Archives

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