These are pieces of my father’s story. I chose to use oyster shells as the pages to write it. The “book” will be assembled into ancestor chimes with bells and will hang in a tree in Carkeek Park in Seattle. It is part of an group installation called Rootbound Heaven and Earth curated by the Center of Contemporary Art Seattle. My piece will be facing the Puget Sound where my father’s family once raised oysters.
I’m very excited about a class I am teaching in Half Moon Bay next week. In this Inter-generational Storytelling Class, Coastside Children’s Programs kids and Coastside Adult Day Health Center seniors will join together to develop a collaborative oral story. They will then make it come alive visually through creating a mural.
Storytelling is a multicultural way of communicating that I am interested in bringing back into our culture. Stories have been told for centuries by storytellers of India who would create story tapestries that they would travel with from town to town to share their tales.
Another example is kamishibai, which dates back to the 12th century, when Buddhist monks traveled Asia with pictures to enhance their stories and lectures. The modern version of this developed in downtown Tokyo during the Great Depression, when thousands of people were suddenly looking for work. Between the 1930s and 1950s in Japan, it was common to see kamishibai storytellers in parks, fields, or on street corners – wherever children gathered. It’s estimated there were once 50,000 kamishibai storytellers in Japan. Unfortunately, as television and movies began to lure children indoors, these storytellers gradually disappeared.
This storytelling project will integrate various kinds of creativity and collaboration, from speaking, and sharing, building on each others input, to painting, and sharing a canvas. The mural that the artists in the class create can be displayed and used for retelling the story in the community. Hopefully we will find a great place to display it.
IMy goal is for this is the first in a series of storytelling workshops because we all have many stories in us to create and share no matter what age we are. It will be exciting to explore this vehicle further through creating sculptures, photography, video, and movement.
I had put out a call for “mother stories” around Mother’s Day and Shirley McClure responded with a story below. Thanks Shirley!
I remember being with my mom before I went to kindergarten and her teaching me how to write my name and a few other things that were about numbers. She spent time with me also showing me how to trace line drawings of horses and shapes. She was an artist and had a “Great Artist” correspondence course, which I later used to help me solidify my sketching skills. I had forgotten she spent that time with me and how much my ability to draw came from her from the start.
She did sketches that were assignments for the Great Artist course, and lots of drawings of us, her daughters when we were babies and young children, that we came across years ago, and that my sisters have. She had aspirations to be an artist and my dad supported her until she got a job which took her away from being involved with the family and then, because we were in the Air Force and had to move every three years, she gave it up. But she would doodle and draw while on the phone, and I picked up that habit too, and it led to me being able to do some self expression during the long years of school when I was bored and numb from sitting in classrooms. While I was care giving her, she began doing a lot of drawing. I have yet to find her drawings, but when they turn up I will find a way to do a show of them for her, the artist that never got to do a show.
Since Mother’s Day is coming up, maybe you are thinking about your mom like I am.
I’d like to invite you to write a story, an experience about your mother. It could be a story you heard or an interaction you had with her. Anything really that you would like to share. You could add it to the comments and then it will be shared with who ever reads this blog and anyone you want to send the link to.
I’ll start off with a story about my mom…
I really have my mom to thank for me being an artist and an art teacher. When I was around 3 or 4 years old, she was trying to find some kind of activity that I would like to do. First she tried swimming. I think she really wanted me to learn how to swim because she wasn’t so hot at it, even though she grew up in Hawaii. Well, I did not do too well at that. (Though I did learn eventually, but that is another story). Then she took me to ballet lessons. I was not too graceful, kinda an ugly duckling type, so that did not last too long. Well, what next? How about art? She took me to a wonderful art teacher named Donna. Donna was very kind and patient. I mostly remember drawing cats and dogs. After that I was constantly drawing. The refrigerator was covered with my art. All my aunts got letters stuffed with my drawings. As I grew older, my mom the teacher, would have me work on her bulletin boards in her class room. I learned to work large. The subject matter was anything from season themed to lessons on geography or science, what ever she was focusing on with her students. I’m glad she kept at it at an early age, to find the right fit for my interest and talent.