WASHINGTON STATE - Earlier this year I was awarded a grant by the Washington State Arts Commission for my idea to tour all of Washington's 13 designated Creative Districts. My idea was to visit each community with intentions of learning about the individual districts and how they collaborate and integrate within their region, to meet other artists to learn about their work, and to be inspired by the beauty of our state.
The Washington State Creative Districts (in the order I visited them) are Langley, Port Townsend, Bainbridge Island, Edmonds, Issaquah, Rainier Valley, Burien, Olympia, Tenino, South Columbia (Tri-Cities), Moses Lake, Chewelah, and Twisp.
To learn more about the program and my experience read my Artist Experience Report to ArtsWA.
SEDRO WOOLLEY, WASHINGTON - It has been a chaotic couple of months for us all due to the onset of Covid-19; especially for families with children cooped up at home. To help keep kids entertained and excited about learning something new, I have created a video series of art lessons as Professor Puffin. These video lessons teach kids how to draw birds, so they can begin to develop an appreciation for nature and art. I have created two initial lessons: "Draw a Bird", and "Draw a Flying Bird". The lessons are filmed here at Wesley Studios in Day Creek, and use props specially made for the classes to help keep the kids and parents entertained. You can tune in to Professor Puffin on his YouTube channel at Professor Puffin's Art Class. Please subscribe, share the link with friends and family, and share your Professor Puffin drawings with us all online. There will be more lessons to come. Stay safe and virtual hugs to you all.
CUSCO, PERU - In August Paris and I travelled to Peru for art and adventure. In addition to a five day trek on the Incan trails, we also visited Camino Nuevo to work with the kids of Manos Unidas. Our goal with the kids was to help them create art to raise funds for their school and the growing curriculum initiatives of the organization's founder Celeste Marion. The trip started with abrupt acclimatization from sea level to 9,000 feet in Pisac and up further to 11,000 feet in Cusco. After a few days of exploring the area, we began our five day trek over the high alpine Salkantay Pass; a thousand feet higher than Mt Rainier! After completing the trek, we spent a day in Aquas Caliente before heading up to see the famed Machu Picchu.
After the trek and some area sightseeing it was back to Cusco where we spent one day meeting with Celeste, the teachers, staff and children of Camino Nuevo's inclusion school. Situated to the south of Cusco, the school is comprised of three buildings and houses classrooms for ages 5 to 18. Children with a range of all different abilities and capacities are here, all happily learning and forming as normal a life as possible through training. For some of the older kids, they'll be given jobs facing the public at Manos Unidas Café in Cusco. We stopped in for a late lunch at the Café after visiting the kids, then turned our attention on finding supplies to work on our project idea with the kids the next day.
Our second day at the school was incredible and what I would consider the highlight of my art career thus far. Working with every child on the campus, we created a collaborative masterpiece that we titled Pachamama's Tree. The activity and dedicated moment per child, seemed to light up their personalities even further. After we finished the various steps of the work, we would take brief breaks for futbol, during which time one of the more endearing moments occurred with one of the younger kids. She was kicking the ball and had quite a strong foot, and launched one over a high fence. When I acted confused as to how I might retrieve it for us, she motioned for my head. I bent down and she promptly snatched my hat off my head and threw it over the fence with the ball, as if to say, "you'll figure it out now, won't you ; ) We all laughed so hard. It was a fittingly light finish to an emotionally exhilarating day.
Below you can see the piece we created together with the students, along with my own contribution to the auction; portraits of an alpaca (left), and a llama (right).
UPDATE (11/04/19): These pieces raised approximately 8,000 dollars total for Manos Unidas once corporate matches were factored in. Many precious thanks to the bidders who won these pieces.