Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Art Project

A client and friend of mine just posted a picture of her daughter's school project. It's a model of a waterside town, built into a large plastic container. There are tiny houses on a hillside next to a coast made out of pebbles. The purpose of the project, I gather, is to demonstrate flooding. It's the perfect hands-on way to teach a child about something bigger than she is.

Boy, I miss those days!

When my now teenage daughter was little, I was all about the art projects. Any time she came home with an assignment, I'd roll up my sleeves and — joyfully — jump in. Several stand out in my mind:

• The biography poster of George Washington. We photocopied about a zillion quarters, colored them in with silver pencils, and created a frame around it.

• The shoebox diorama of William Dawes, Paul Revere's compatriot. This might be an odd choice except that Dawes rode a horse. Even in second grade, my daughter let her love of horses drive ... well ... pretty much everything.

• The Christmas wreath made out of a paper plate, green streamers and holiday images cut out of magazines. (We still hang it in the kitchen every December.)

• The poster illuminating the mineral gypsum. We included several photos of my daughter, pointing to important information, scratching her head over puzzling facts, and smiling broadly at the conclusion (in hopes of getting an A, no doubt).

• The boat that was supposed to hold 32 glass marbles without sinking. (This one was a joint effort with her father, I have to say. It stayed afloat. Almost.)

• The Valentine's Day mailbox made out of an oatmeal container, Kleenex box, craft paper, yarn and googly eyes. (Can you guess what it was supposed to be? The head of a horse, of course.)

In addition to the ones for school (and there were dozens, if not hundreds, of those), we did our own art projects together on weekends. Costumes and masks and puppets and scrapbook and models and jewelry and, and, and ... 

Early on, my daughter got a little bored with all the creativity I was encouraging. But, her friends still loved it. Often, when another girl would come over for a playdate, she'd say "Can we do an art project?" My daughter would roll her eyes but go along with her friend (and her mom).

We ended up with a lot of supplies. In the past few weeks, I've been trying to clean out our basement. I've come across dried-up tubes of paint ("make your own tee shirt"), empty cigar boxes ("make your own shadow box"), boxes of beads ("make your own friendship bracelet"). There are markers and pads of construction paper, bags of glitter and glue sticks, paper dolls and little plastic horses.

I'm keeping some for my niece, giving some to the school thrift store, and throwing some (all right, a lot) away.

Audible sigh.

I've said this before. No one warns you when it's the last time you'll read Good-Night Moon. No one warns you when it's the last time you'll watch The Little Mermaid (or, in our case, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron).

And, no one warns you when it's the last time you'll do an art project together. 

That's probably why I've kept all this junk in the basement for so many years. Well, that and the fact that my natural inclination lies somewhere over in "pack rat" territory.

If I so much as vaguely suggested a family art project now, my daughter would look at me like I had two heads. The idea's way too lame and she's way too busy. She has high school, she has riding, she has a part-time job. In less than three weeks, she'll take (and probably pass, Lord help me) her driving test. Then, she'll be free to leave me and my boxes of art supplies behind.

Meanwhile, I continue to organize and, sadly, purge. Really, if we haven't so much as opened the "Super Spirograph," the modeling clay, or the pot holder loom in ten years, we can probably do without them.

Everyone, including my daughter, supports my basement project. What they don't know is that I have a top-secret and not-negotiable portfolio stashed under my bed.

Let me know if you want to see that George Washington poster.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.   

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