June at Patchwork Central was full of arts experiences for kids. The month began with Art Garden Week I with Susan Fowler leading our signature mix of storytelling, visual arts, gardening and cooking.
From there, we moved into two Sculpture Weeks led by Christian Smith. Christian works primarily in wood. Participants toured Patchwork’s sculpture collection and viewed some of Christian’s recent work. Then they set to work creating their own sculptures in wood: bird/fairy houses. Each house began with a sketch, then the construction of the underlying “bones” of the house. Next, participants used a wonderful box full of wooden odds and ends, glue, hammers, nails, a drill press, screws, and electric screwdrivers to fit their house to their vision. Last came a coat of paint. The results were fantastical and unique.
Dance Week came next, in partnership with the Children’s Center for Dance Education. Sadia led the group in a variety of dance experiences from across the world including ballet, Polynesian dance, and Spanish dance. The group also found many ways to leap across the patch of sunlight cast by our big circle window. The week wasn’t about perfecting form or preparing for a performance. It was about finding joy and expression in movement no matter who you are. Everyone had fun.
These lessons in art served as a backdrop for lessons in life: working together, persistence, problem solving, understanding others’ perspectives. In addition to participants learning from their instructors and each other, participants learned from a group of volunteers from The Arc of Evansville who were here to make snack for us each day. These adults looked, moved, talked, and acted a little differently than most adults the children would encounter in daily life. But toward the end of the first Sculpture Week, the Arc staff member accompanying the Arc volunteers reported a wonderful conversation that her small group had with one child.
The girl approached the team as they worked in the kitchen and said, “We have people like that at my school. They’re different, but not bad.” Then she went on to ask one of the Arc volunteers about how he prefers to communicate. “Do you talk with your hands?” The Arc staff member was very impressed by her sensitivity and understanding.
I am glad that Patchwork is a place of exceptional learning and a place where diverse people can come together to learn from each other.
Notes from 40 Years at Patchwork:
After Patchwork’s Meetinghouse burned down in December 1983, the Patchwork Community did not wait long to reopen its programs, activities, and worship. The group used meeting spaces spread across the city. Within a year, the group purchased the house next door at 116 Washington Ave to use as a temporary home for Patchwork’s worship and offices, Neighborhood Economic Development Center, the Center for Community Renewal, Shalom Seminars, After School Children’s Program, and the food pantry.
In the February 1985, Beverly Knox Taylor wrote in Patchwork’s Stitches newsletter:
January is a month of re-evaluation for us living in community as we have reflected on our lives together this past year. A major theme surfaces each time we discuss what it means to live in community. That theme is “family.” Community is family for many of us. We experience a common bond of love and caring which goes beyond friendship, which goes beyond belonging to the same group or the same church. We accept responsibility for the well-being of each other. We accept each other’s varied styles…Patchwork Community provides me with an alternative family network which helps me to be authentic. I want and need a place to share my values, my beliefs and myself…. A place that is among people who strive to be honest in their beliefs and in their living. I feel at home here—with community as family.