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Beginnings of Art and Community

It’s December 1 and the snow has finally arrived in Muskoka. I’ve been looking forward to it but it’s actually been kinda nice that we haven’t had the extra work of shovelling until now. I have had a number of minor (but disruptive) health issues over the past 8 weeks but I do believe I am on the upward track now!

I mentioned before that I am very intentionally leaning into my art-making as a next step in discerning in and through The Butterfly Project. I was given the opportunity to write a reflection on hope for the first week of Advent and decided it was a great opportunity to include art.

Some of you have probably heard or read my reflection, but in case you haven’t, New Ventures has it published on their website.

I also was asked by my friend Marcy, who is the Ministry Director at The Door Youth Centre in Huntsville, to help her come up with a creative way to thank her supporters this Christmas. Naturally, I thought of art. I had some BIG ideas, some have to wait until next year, but this is a perfect opportunity to bring art and community together.

In a previous blog, I talked about how making art can positively affect a person’s mental health. It creates opportunities for friendship, affirmation and support. This is particularly helpful for those who are in crisis because a crisis can leave people feeling isolated and alone. One particular program I looked at designed by an artist and an occupational therapist, showed that supportive relationships combined with the physical environment, were significant in providing safety and the opportunity to take risks. Art making is also a safe method for personal expression and self-discovery, gives people a sense of achievement, and plainly provides a distraction.

The Door supports a diverse group of kids, between the ages of 10 and 19 and from my perspective, is an essential service to the community of Huntsville. Like most cities and towns, there is no shortage of hurting people, of all ages.

I created an image of a door and using my printing press, blind embossed the cards. Blind embossing is what is referred to when the image is raised up out of the paper.

On Thursday night at youth group, the kids and I will decorate the door. Making and giving away art is a way of giving of yourself. Using an image of a door does symbolize The Door as an organization, but by using a blind emboss approach, emphasizes it’s the community that makes up The Door that matters the most. The people, not the organization. The art the kids will create to decorate the door both symbolically and literally show how the door simply wouldn’t be the same without their part in it. Each youth who visits The Door matters deeply to God, as do all those who work to keep this ministry going.

The hope is that the kids will not only enjoy making some art, but it will give them a greater sense of belonging, a boost in confidence that even a small mark, like a simple stamp of mistletoe, makes a difference.

In turn, as Marcy sends out these heartfelt creations to her supporters in the coming weeks, they too will have a sense of the value of their involvement with The Door. It takes a village as they say. The real gift is that everyone who receives one of these cards, won’t just have a piece of fine art, they will be holding a piece of The Door.

My experience with this sorta thing is that this concept will be wonderfully enriched and expanded as we sit together making art. I look forward to telling you about it and sharing with you some of the kids creations.

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