Creative Projects

Arts can uplift and inspire the soul and spirit of the individual and community, triggering worlds of questions, imagination, explorations and possibilities, creating a sense of joy and wonder in the process. Learning some of the skills and tools of creativity opens endless possibilities of expression to each of us.  Opportunities to participate in fostering this process are abundant.  While painting in plein air I am often approached by children who love to paint, their parents keenly listening to the conversation. The number one question I hear is “what do you do if you make a mistake?”.  They are shocked when I wipe out part of my painting or move a tree, but their eyes become happy and bright in understanding that it is all part of a wonderful learning process and that we are free to express ourselves in whatever style is natural to us.

Working with small groups of youth or adults in neighborhoods has been an interesting experience.  I find that while they may see each other daily and shout across the road to each other, they may not really know or be very comfortable with each other.  When they come together for an art project I observe them with their heads down, often not talking much with each other and sometimes making offhand comments until they start becoming absorbed in what they are doing and relax with each other.  A topic will then seem to emerge which causes them to glance up and look into each others’ faces with a new appreciation and ease.  Friendships begin forming and I think I am observing that each seems to become more relaxed and free in creating his or her own style of art.  I experienced the same while working on the development of an arts center in Namibia, Africa.

Mary Jane Volkmann and friends restoring and painting an old building as premises for the Tsumeb Arts and Crafts Center in Namibia, Africa  taking art to the neighborhoods

“Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation.”

 — Baha’u’llah

Pictured Above: left: the Tsumeb Arts and Crafts Center, Namibia; right: an activity of a neighborhood Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, a program offered by the Baha’i community in response to the needs of youth and teens throughout the world. “This program is aimed at building the capacity for moral reasoning and channeling the energy of young people between the ages of 11 and 14.”  “With a vibrant spirit and focused determination, youth from all backgrounds that engage these activities build their capacity to respond with wisdom, courage, and humility in addressing the ills currently facing society.” (see source)