I’m just returning from an amazing trip to New York City. I came to attend Faith Ringgold’s “Anyone Can Fly Foundation’s” benefit (http://acffessay.blogspot.com). It was held at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling (https://www.sugarhillmuseum.org) in Harlem. That’s the district of Harlem where Faith grew up. Other artists grew up there too, but we didn’t learn about them in history books. Instead we learned about European artists and rarely about the avant garde. They all made nice art, but we missed so much. Faith has made it her mission to include more artists of African Diaspora in the Canon of Art. Now we know that artists of color have been making powerful works of art for centuries. Faith’s foundation wants to make sure that our school children know that great art was not created nor does it need to be created in a bubble.
I am always inspired by Faith. Our friendship began about 10 years ago. She has broadened my perspective and given me a reason to make art that, “speaks.” She has introduced me to amazing artists that I share with my students ALL year long. I don’t just share about them in January during, “Black History Month.”
Faith has taught me to fly. She empowers everyone around her to reach for the stars. Why not?
I painted a painting for her event. It is of her..flying..spreading love all around her, but especially to the children. She really loved it and I’m so happy that I could donate it to her mission. We took a picture together with the person who bought it. Before I left the event, Faith looked at me straight in the eye and said (with a fist bump), “It’s really a wonderful painting, Melody.” At that moment, I felt my feet lift the ground.
In what ways do we inspire our students? Do we demand a little too much sometimes? Are we afraid to stray from our own agendas? Do we spoon-feed our own ideas to them? Or do we help them to express their own voice and solve their own art problems? Do we teach them to fly? Or do we pull them down? Sometimes, all it takes is a positive word..a note of encouragement..or even a fist bump..and soon they’ll be reaching for the stars! I ought to know….