"Controlled" chaos

Notice the title. That was my workshop yesterday. I can't say that there was that much control, hence the quotes. But, that was a good thing. Yesterday I led a workshop at the community center (notice I did not use the word taught). Lots of kids and a few adults brought in shirts or other garments and painted, stamped, and stenciled all over them. I made plans, and samples; I set up workstations and did demos for my assistants. We were ready when the first person came through the door at 1pm. Over the course of 2 hours we must have had 50 people. The workstations dissolved into all sorts of work happening everywhere. And, it was fearless work. I expected there would be a couple of very tentative folks who would be cautions about making the first mark. Kids just are not like that.

The stuff they did was great. They were using freezer paper to make iron-on stencils. They cut out adhesive-baked foam and stuck it to foam core to make stamps and printing blocks. They painted freehand. We were working in a really well stocked art room. Lots of the kids had been to other activities there before. Let me tell you, if they wanted something that I didn't supply they asked for it politely and in come cases showed me where to find it on the shelves. After two hours I was worn out. I don't interact with a lot of kids on a regular basis. They generate a level of mental stimulation that I'm not used to. It was great, but whew. I have a renewed admiration and appreciation for all of you out there who are teachers and parents. How do you do it?

Here's a picture of some of the folks at work. Barbara and Ann, the organizers, are standing in the back. They were great helpers and cheerleaders.

Here's a small sample of some of the work. I saw some pretty uninhibited stuff.

And finally, here's a picture of my most valuable helpers. They are the reigning Miss Greenbelts in various age groups. Along with their titles comes a commitment to a year of community service. They help out at all of the Artful Afternoons and they are dynamos: setting up, cleaning up, helping the other kids, everything. This photo was taken at the end of the workshop. Notice the benches are all on top of the tables. They washed everything in sight, cleaned the tables, then put the bench on top so they could SWEEP THE FLOOR. Amazing.

You also have to notice the tiaras and sashes. Each young lady arrived carrying what appeared to be a jewel-encrusted Lucite purse. I'm thinking to myself, "Is this some new teen fashion to which I am oblivious?" No, it's what they use the transport their tiaras, which they wore with pride all day. They were polite, articulate, friendly and have my deepest gratitude.