'My first Job out of college was working at a day center for homeless women in Chicago. I was the art and activities director there. I led groups of women in art instruction using a variety of materials and methods. We usually all sat together at a large table in the common space, women were invited to be involved but it wasn’t a requirement. I had several women that were, by all means, what I consider to be Artists- women that were compelled to create and who I consistently found arriving at the art table. As an artist, that is what we must do-push through the everyday blocks and consistently arrive at the art table. Women that, often because of circumstances beyond there control, found themselves living on the streets, in temporary housing and in regular states of flux. This was, without a doubt, a defining experience for me in my life and I met many courageous and inspiring women.
Arlene was the name of one such women, who I found, often, sitting at the table painting. She would always paint landscapes of pine trees and running streams of fresh water. She owned nothing of value, had barely enough to live but she had her watercolor paints and paper and she would paint. She would come to the center and sit at my table and pull out her watercolors and paper and paint several paintings as she would sit. She showed me stacks of watercolor paintings that she had painted and carried with her in her laundry cart. Her passion for art-making was unshakeable. She relentlessly pushed through any blocks that undoubtable were in her way and impetuously made her art!
She pushed through it. She had passion. I am grateful for having met her, and think of her often. I want to dig out that kind of passion for my art making process and, everyday, push through life's daily blocks and find my way to the art table.