In elementary school at Bolinas-Stinson Elementary, we had a rich and beautifully creative arts program. We had ceramics, potting, jewelry making, carpentry, collage, drawing and painting throughout our day. I remember getting through the academics, maths and sciences, quickly (and very successfully) so that I could get back to my drawing time. We moved to Oakland for sixth grade and I lost my way, the structure was totally different. We still had creative time during indoor recess or earned free time, but there was no focus on creativity. I lost my way.
Junior High was a steady focus on academics with a few opportunities to study Drama or Music, but no visual art. I struggled to find a place for myself. I struggled to focus on the academics and, though I managed to succeed, I struggled to do it. I became very conflicted about my career path. A doctor, a lawyer, a business woman...an Artist was never an opportunity that was suggested or considered.
Berkeley High School tried to protect its arts programming, but there was one 'art class' for painting or drawing, otherwise it was music, theater, and photography. My school graduated some famous musicians, but generally speaking, the school was focused on academic excellence, Maths, English, History, Science...again, I did well enough, but struggled.
It was not until college, given the choice about my own focus, was fine art available to me...but by then, I think that the damage was already done. I had no faith that a creative life could lead to success and even after receiving a BA in Fine Arts, I went on to convert myself back into the business world where I battled it out for the next 20 years. Sure, I had some impressive successes, but I never felt excited by my work.
Not until, that is, this past December (2012) when I participated in my first ever Open Studio show. That night I felt, for the first time in a very very very long time, a kind of pride and confidence in myself and my work product. Along with these alien feelings, came a calm and happiness that I hadn't ever known before. My efforts produce a product that makes people, pure strangers, happy. Wow.
Imagine a world in which people were encouraged to pursue their true gifts...their bliss. I share Robinson's idea that this imagined world would be a healthier and more peaceful one. I love Maths, I love science and I love history and those that feel compelled by them should follow their inspiration there, and I also believe that those of us who need to dance or sing or paint to express our bliss, should be encouraged to go there. I believe that there would be less fighting and dying and stripped dead earth....I think that it does have to come from a shift in our education system and a global return of the arts to our consciousness.