Community Art Project: Poetry ON Poetry

For years, our signature project was a big, public, weekly event in a city park, Poetry and Pottery……so, that wasn’t happening in 2020. Mark Wong, the pottery part, the staff from the Manitou Arts Center, and I had a socially distanced, outdoors, brainstorming session about what we COULD do instead. We wanted to create community and give folx a reason to express themselves.

And look what happened! The MAC was willing to be the place for the project. We decided to hand out clay during the First Friday Art Walk in September and then return the finished pieces to the creators on the First Friday Art Walk in October. Mark created an instructional video for how to make a tray and how to put words on it. I hosted an online workshop to help people to find just the right words. Mark also created about 150 balls of clay! Folx picked up the clay and information about the video and workshop.

And then we really wondered what would happen. Almost all of the balls of clay went home with someone — so we knew people were having fun with clay. That’s good. We asked for people to return their work to the MAC, and they did! Mark fired and glazed 48 trays like the ones you see above. On October 2, I got to watch as community members of all sizes and ages came to find their tray at the MAC.

Kids and adults in masks took in all the trays, taking time to read them and to laugh at the jokes. Their faces cracked open in smiles when they found their own trays. That was really fun. We did recreate the joy of creation and self expression in this new form. The community created together, even if it was separately. They got to show off their work, even if they weren’t there to take in the praise.

Some of the trays are waiting at the MAC. Mark has some ideas about what he wants to do with the “left” overs. So we may can continue this project for a while.

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