The time had come, I was headed back to school and as much as I was looking forward to my return trip to Waterboro Elementary, first came a visit to Mrs. Brewer's seventh grade class at Thornton Academy in Saco. I have to admit, I was a tad nervous. My previous interactions with a large group of students was wonderful, but they were 2nd and 3rd graders, easy to amuse. As the students poured into the modern facility I immediately flash backed to seventh grade, these "kids" were young adults, impressionable and astute, yet chill and comfortable.
The topic they were exploring was Colonization and how different talents in the colony helped, each in their particular ways, like say an artist who could communicate with images for those who could not read. As I sat at the front of the room, under a large screen rambling on and on about my life as an artist and the oddball lobsters I've created, I noticed the group was very curious and began asking some great questions. We spent a lot of time talking about individuality, standing out from the crowd, trades, craft, and the simple fact that the more you put in the more you get out. We talked about the difficulties of occupation, adapting, and that if you're not failing you may not be trying hard enough.
We looked at many lobsters and how you can enjoy what you do. That an idea is just an idea without commitment, dedication, passion and the ability to take it to the next level. We talked about how important the arts are, whether it be in the form of a lobster, chicken, or goat, whether it's styling hair, playing banjo or writing a short story. It was a delight to have a short time with them, they were awesome, and much to my surprise I received a collaborative lobster drawn and signed by them all! Thank you guys and thank you Mrs. Brewer for the invite!
"Colab Lobster" from Mrs. Brewer's Seventh Grade Class
A couple days later I headed back to my neighbor Mrs. Finn's school, Waterboro Elementary were I had the privilege to speak in front of roughly 200 kids from K-5th Grade, and a workshop with three classes to follow. These little guys were no seventh graders so I briefly touched base on the boring stuff and quickly got right into the lobsters projected on the wall behind me. Before we got started the principal went over the rules, stay seated, be quiet and if you had a question to raise your hand, easy enough.
I recalled my visit from the previous year and how excited the kids got when they saw "Lobster Sundae" for the first time. I felt like a Beatle, or a Jonas Brother, or someone I didn't know. It was a moment I will never forget and one I was hoping for again. This time around, instead of cheering, I mentioned to shake your hands above your head if you liked the lobster and we'll see which is the most popular by silent decision. That concept started off well but slowly more and more voices, cheers and giggles accompanied the shaking fingers, then, as if Superman just flew into the building, "Lobster Sundae" stole the show. It was magic and at that point the rules went out the window as I continued and wrapped up my presentation. I took a few questions afterwards, which, for the most part ended up being the chosen students favorite lobster, and a few "can I have your autograph" thrown in to make me blush.
We headed over to Mrs. Finn's classroom which was connected to two other classes whom also were participating in the workshop. As a class the students created their own lobsters as well as some attempting the "Maze" I had brought just in case they came across a creative block. It was a blast seeing their minds go crazy via the pencils in their hands. Some got to work quickly, many Minecraft concepts as well as hearts and flowers, some took their time, really considering what they wanted to do or what the heck am I doing? One in particular was stuck, only two little ice cream cone looking doodles on the lobster. The student was upset, couldn't think of what to draw, and started to get emotional. I mentioned that in the art world you are never wrong, if you don't like what you did, start over, and that you'll never know what to throw away if you don't see it on paper. I checked in 15 minutes later and the lobster was full of color and design, it was breathtaking, then I got emotional.
As an artist growing up I never realized art's importance in young minds until my visits to schools and the comments I hear back from teachers and parents, thank you for all of them. My mother always encouraged me to draw and I always had plenty of materials to be creative with, I do the same for my two because it's FUN!