Shaping your World into The Very Life You Love
Today my kids and I learnt such deep and valuable lessons on perseverance. On faithfully staying the course. On keep on keepin’ on even when it gets rough And we learnt it from the life and art of beautiful African American Artist Augusta Savage (1892-1962).
We learnt about chasing your dreams. No matter what and even.
We learnt about using the very obstacles you encounter as a catapult into your destiny! The very person who did not believe in her dream, her father, was the one whose face Augusta used to sculpture into a stunning bus which would open for her the heavy doors of the 1930s prestigious arts world and proof her exceptional talent to create and teach art. Sounds like an amazing homeschool day right? Well, it didn’t start like that...
Ok to summarize today actually was one of those days on which after all is said and done I closed the books and left the classroom feeling... happy. Yes, the students learnt a lot and engaged really well. But more than that...
I left the schoolroom feeling my soul just drank a dose of encouragement, my heart just grew, took a leap of faith, got nourished, became a little richer, deeper if you so will, maybe even more whole after the day was over. And so you close the book.... and smile. That sounds wonderful, right?
But this day did not start out like this. The morning hours were no array full of glamor and revelations. In fact this day began as a total disaster and that may even still be a gross understatement. Everything that could go wrong went wrong.
To top it all off, suddenly I looked outside the window and realized a grey cloud had rolled in and decided to pour down rain buckets on our little cabin like back in the days of Noah...
"What? Rain?" My already upset perfectionist self exclaimed to herself. Talking about another unexpected, unscheduled, unplanned incident today...I mean, rain, really? ...when does that ever happen in Southern California?
Well I guess today is the perfect time for it and when it rains it pours. And so, frantically I ran outside to the backyard to pick up all the toys, tools, clothes and books that the kids (and me) forgot outside last night.
As I finally re-entered the house I looked and felt like nothing but a wet discouraged teacher-mom fail, booh on all her present endevours and ...it wasn't even 9:30 yet.
"Why am I doing this again," I murmured. But just as fast as the rain showers came, they suddenly lifted and left nothing like a bright blue sky and a smiling sun smirking at me almost, too cheerful.... And so after drying up and slowing down, relaxing, surrendering all preconceived ideas and expectations and letting go of my discouragement and frustration, I put in a smile, closed the math books. And we ended up having one of the-best-most-creative school days ever!!! Who would have thought. And Augusta Savage was our teacher.
Sitting here in the late afternoon now writing this post, sipping on a tea (while toddler is sleeping and the girls are quietly sculpturing in the backyard), I'm still amazed how things changed so drastically literally from one moment to the next.
Looking back I realized this same holds true for life. Throughout life too, so often things can take a turn for the good within a blink of an eye. And then I get surprised by goodnesss.
Note to self: I just have to remind myself of the fact that no disaster is permanent the next time it starts "raining".
You know the proverbial weeping lasts for a night but joy comes in the morning.
So how did we snap out of a whirlwind of little disasters? Hm... I guess all it took for me was a conscience decision to turn away from the negative, unmet (high) expectations and focus on the many blessings (we actually need rain) and little achievements we had. And it bluntantly changed the course of our day.
As I turned to a completely different subject (bye bye math) and put a huge smile on my face, it changed everything!
And once again I realized how we can create so much of our day ourselves. That is if we are conscious, intentional and ... bravely face obstacles or jump over them.
And that brings us to today's main lesson: Arts. More precise: sculpturing. Creating sculptures and images of what we know and love.
We began our study of renown yet unfortunately often less celebrated African American Artist Augusta Savage.
After snuggling up in the couch and reading her beautiful life biography (see bellow), we looked at her works of arts and admired the talent she had.
We talked about the dream she had of becoming a sculptor since she was a little girl.
We remembered how she used to make little clay figures of chicken and farm animals when she was a young impoverished preacher's daughter inFlorida.
We discussed all the obstacles she had to overcome as a single mom until she became one of the most renown artists during the Harlem Rennaisance. She ended up becoming the director of some of the best arts institutions during that time and mentored children as well as other great artists such as Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden! She contributed so much to the world of arts.
And we talked about how the very person that was seemingly her greatest adversary became the very tool that catapulted her into the world of arts and artistry in New York.
There were so, so many lessons learnt in one small picture book. Lessons on art, history, culture and a very brave girl who chased her dream through trials, self doubt and failure.
Reminded me of our today.... After we (ok, I) determined to change my attitude towards "disasters", the rain made way to sunshine and sunshine made a way to a beautiful time of immersing into the world of arts. And we began celebrating an artist who truly deserve it. Augusta Savage.... she's one of the people I wish I could have met and have tea with in my life time. Maybe up there one day (:
Grateful for yet another historical figure for adding wisdom to our day by having lived out her days not perfectly but boldly. And I'm grateful that just like Augusta we got to sculture something beautiful out of that rainy California day.
We used different modeling clay today but liked the ones bellow best! It comes in terra cotta color and white. It's easy to work with even for little hands and made my 8-year-old exclaim "now I know what Augusta savage meant with -gooey-!"
If you decide to read the picture book on Augusta Savage (link bellow) I highly recommend also doing the sculpturing activity with it. It's such an easy, fun hands on activity for little artists to really get a feel for this area of art. My kids spent hours this afternoon sculpturing more. I began by showing them basic ways of creating figures and let my students, just like Augusta Savage's mentor told her, create what "they know best"!
after using th more professional modeling clay they spent the next week Sculpturing little figures with the colorful modeling clay. It's a great tool to foster their imagination and fine motor skills!
(My 5-year-old actually decided she was going to use me as a model, but ain't nobody got time to sit still for 3 hours like in Augusta Savage time (-; )
California based Ghanaian-German educator, writer, bookworm and mama of three. A lover of all things nature, diversity & healthy.
"Education is nothing else than discovery.
And discovery full of diversity is beautiful."
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About the author
My name is Nancy. I'm a teacher, home educator, wife, mother, writer and accidental German-Ghanaian transplant to the U.S., in love with California and all things diversity.