A Meditative Warmth

This is a blog for Sticky Art Lab. Four years. Just thinking about it so far, how it all started and how far it has come. Four years ago, we opened the door with two tables and a few stools. Some paint and easels, markers and donated paper. Day after day, even today, we still hope it will work, we hope the people will come. And they do. Then they don't. And they do again, until it feels a little more like a community. Friends meet friends. People meet people for the first time. Something for kids, something for grown ups, for teens, for grandparents, aunts and uncles. Lots of people visit without any idea of what it might be. Others think they had it figured out. But maybe this happened: they were surprised. In some small way, surprised. By how small it was, how fun it was, how overwhelmed they were by too many amazing materials, how much they learned by just having the freedom to try something new. Our projects are not always perfect looking, in fact sometimes quite scrappy, but a good hour went by and all the synapses in their brains were firing for taking a risk and thinking outside of the box. When do we get a chance to do that? Some come back the next day. Some never come back, that was enough excitement. But maybe this happened: they left with a renewed appreciation for organized chaos. Or, they left with a little bit of warmth to be in a place where so many good things have happened, where they felt welcome no matter what, where so many hands have come together to make and build. Albeit, very sticky hands.

The space has a kitchen sort of area, at the back, a corner that couldn't become anything else. That's where the crew hangs out. One makes a cup of tea for the other. Snacks are prepared, lessons are written while leaning on the counter, then dashing out to the stack of materials. "Don't we have that mylar stuff?" "We could make it with onion bags!" "What is this?" And it's our job to put things out for the folks that come to tinker. We put two things next to each other as a suggestion of what can go together. We call it suggestive proximity, which sounds like you say it with a wink, but it means we want the builder to have the aha moment. We build the project and lay out the studio to empower the user. (Yeah, I know it's good, you can use it). It's how we should be learning, kids and adults, by playing, by exploring. And maybe this will happen: We might let go of needing to be the expert of everything. We might learn that we don't have all the answers and that it is valuable to make a mistake and be able to work through it. We might learn to work together and ask questions of our neighbors, pitch an idea, feel connected and belong.

After four years, we are here still. We hope it will work. We are always looking for new things to do. New ways to think. New ways to see things. We like cardboard a lot. It's all over the place and it's very useful. Go out and grab some, and challenge yourself to make a city with little holes cut out for windows, make a costume with arm bands and a helmet, make a shelter, put a blanket in it and stay warm. A robot, a spaceship. A dollhouse, a sculpture. Make something without thinking about it too much. You might be surprised at what happens. You might learn something new.

 

-from Rachel

Rachel Knudson

Sticky Art Lab, 1682 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA, 94703, United States