6:56 PM

Growing Artists!

Posted by Prosy Delacruz

“ What is art? It is the response of man’s creative Soul to the call of the Real." - Rabindranath Tagore

Synergy made it happen. Actually, the caring teachers made it happen. Mrs. Epps, Randy and Meg Palisoc, the Fil-Am and Chinese-American founders of this school made it happen. The entire school body made it happen. They chose to create a nurturing space to grow these elementary students to their fullest potentials, including coaxing out the artists within them! And the students got their medals symbolizing work well done, after 17 judges made time to evaluate their work.

Synergy converted a space inside the church to be a temporary art gallery, with classical music playing in the background, a colorful bouquet of yellow daisies and trays of goodies: fruits, cheese, crackers, no frills, simple, just elegantly served in trays. A powerpoint presentation continuously showed the students working on their paintings.

Unlike Paul Cezanne, whose studio overlooked the hills of Provence, a studio built by his banker father, these children worked on art inside their cramped classrooms in Los Angeles, a not so special space dedicated for art. Unlike Cezanne who had the luxury to paint each morning, until it was time to meet his friend, Zola at Le Deux Garcons Café, these students were given limited blocks of time to finish their work. What a charmed life Paul Cezanne lived -- an artist and a banker's son. These LA students didn't have the charmed life that he had.

Mind you, Synergy shares space with a church: Mondays to Fridays are for them while weekends are for the congregation. How can anyone even find a nurturing space or the privacy that they need to complete their work? The closet perhaps? How about the playground? Under the teacher’s computer table?

While hunched below, bent on their knees, paper on the floor, a Synergy student artist carefully paints to simulate Georgia O’ Keefe, Van Gogh and Pollock's work. As she shares her story, she believes without persistence, she would not complete her project.

Another student artist describes how he took the risk of voting for his classmate. He felt he was good, but his classmate did not want to submit his work to be displayed. So, by voting for him, he thought he was helping him recognize that he, too, is a good artist. I love that these children are being trained not to be competitive, but to be supportive of each other.

Another student artist describes how water swished, splashed, and spilled on their paper. They hurriedly worked together, yes together, to contain the damage. Water spills combined with splashes of paint to simulate the work of Jackson Pollock.

Could it be that accidental mistakes become abstract paintings? Hmm, maybe, but perhaps not. Could it be that the support one gets becomes the source of her inspiration to create art? Who really knows what inspires an artist?

Take a look at this artwork -- matted, not framed, but just the same, its beauty comes through! More importantly, the child’s inner joy, perhaps even her self-esteem grows.

Inner joy is achieved when one connects to the Universal Source. I was talking to Nicole Arizcorreta and asked her how she felt about painting. She told me she was happy to see it displayed.

I encouraged her to paint more. I told her that if she painted regularly, she will feel more connected to the Universal Source who gives us blessings. I was not sure if she believed in God, but as I was talking to her in English, a man translated in Spanish to her mother.

Her mother’s eyes welled up. She looked fatigued from a long day's work. Yet, she was fully present, alert, and interactive. She stayed until the awards program ended.

When I asked why she was teary-eyed, she said that she felt honored that someone noticed her child’s work. I reassured her that her daughter seems gifted. I shared that I liked her painting a lot. And perhaps a small investment to buy her watercolors and paper might help her child stay motivated to keep on painting.

“Look at your daughter’s eyes”, I pointed them out. “Her joy is from within.” I am not sure how it translated into Spanish, but as I glanced at her mother’s eyes, still teary, I too got affected.

I felt privileged, being part of this moment: a child happy to see her art work displayed, even fussed over with a ribbon, a mother’s pride and delight with her child’s performance, and the translator and myself vicariously absorbing the happiness of their human connection.

I felt a sense of gratitude towards the school’s founders for insisting on educating these underprivileged children, setting their spirits free. The children of workers who assemble furniture, cook in restaurants and wash dishes. The children of workers in the bottom of the food chain, and yet being educated by Synergy as though they were children of royalty.

It struck me at that moment that this was the true meaning of having “ no child left behind. “ If only the residents of the White House or the House of Congress can witness what I am seeing and fund them with the same level of resources afforded to our military establishment.

In Holland, their country’s media creates educational programs focused on families and children. Television helps students solve mathematical problems and teaches them how to read. Students are given financial incentives by the government, ranging from $150 to $300, to complete high school, then college, and even after college -- to learn about other cultures by traveling to different countries. What a progressive vision -- focusing the country’s resources to educate Dutch children.

And we are not that far off here in Los Angeles. Here in LA, we have a multi-racial community celebrating the success of Synergy’s students, as well as 17 volunteer judges from different sectors: church, entertainment, non-profits, writers, and some important public figures from the arts community.

We were greeted by the warm smiles of the student council officers, who served as Synergy’s ambassadors of goodwill, welcoming judges as we arrived. All 17 judges showed up, relishing the positive atmosphere of synergy, of hope, of learning, wowed by the positive energies of well-behaved students.

For our judges’ panel, we agreed on a criteria based on three factors: how the artwork evoked our feelings, how they simulated the originals and how they incorporated their own interpretation or innovation.

For a while, I thought I was in heaven, seeing multi-racial students, teachers, parents, guests, community and judges relishing each other’s company, getting along for heaven’s sake -- people with different ethnicities, genders and religions. It was bliss! It was grace for the day! This is the best of Los Angeles and one only needs to make time to witness how a diverse group could get along to create joy!

This afternoon, the colors of the rainbow were brown, black, white and yellow, linking arms to form a complete circle of evolved humanity and helping each other succeed. The Universal Source would be pleased. Indeed, this is the city of angels.


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