The first event to bring our mentoring community together after a long pause was organized through art. Flowers and waves. Jessica Sou donated her time and skills to teach a painting class for our mentoring organization (see photos above). Pendleton Center for the Arts is also right with us by inviting kids and adults to come and explore their creativity outside at Pioneer Park on Saturday mornings. This situates our gathering in spaces either directly in nature or representative of it. Is this just a coincidence or is there more to the healing powers of art and nature that have pulled us?
Considering what Jesus had to say on the topic informs our sensibilities...in Luke 12:27 NIV, “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Clearly he saw a beauty in nature that speaks to art imitating life. I don’t find it surprising then that healing follows the appreciation of this life/art nexus. Any doubters? Where do we see evidence of this dynamic? A grateful appreciation has been demonstrated in the work of Free Arts For Abused Children of Arizona. Their Director, Jennifer Flowers, describes it this way:
“The Free Arts model is based on resilience research from the Harvard Center for the Developing Child that states that positive adult relationships and active skill building are integral to resilience building in children. Art is a way to help children express their thoughts and feelings, regulate their brain activity, and understand their identity. Creating art together can help build and strengthen relationships between mentors and mentees as well as between peers. The impact has been clear throughout Free Arts’ 25-year history during which time more than 125,000 children have accessed Free Arts’ services". If we accept this legacy of art-in-life, whether or not the art is representing the beauty of nature, we can recognize a good model for mentoring.
It’s fantastic to have local resources and artists that demonstrate our potential as they share their work. One such local inspiration is seen in the work of Hiroko Cannon, a Pendleton artist well known for her realistic nature scenes focusing on simple subjects she even finds in her backyard. (See more here: Hiroko Cannon on display :
On the heels of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage month it is especially encouraging to take note of her contribution to the community in Pendleton. Her subjects found in nature demonstrate the beauty we can all appreciate as a blessing as we focus on the community of mentoring this spring!!
Learn More: Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month: https://asianpacificheritage.gov/about/
Learn more about Free Arts here: https://www.freeartsaz.org/
-Contributed by Suzanne Church, AmeriCorps Mentor Coordinator