of chairs and scale

January 12, 2009

My husband, Arden, and I had an opportunity to attend a recent retreat for board members and volunteers of a wonderful and local non-profit organization called Georgetown Art Works. Our goals were simple: Clarify our vision as an organization, write (or at the very least agree upon the basics of) a mission statement, work on our 2009 calendar and designate specific responsibilities and opportunities for each of us in attendance. We had an incredible facilitator, a dedicated board president, plenty of food, great ideas and most importantly, a creative outlet. We made incredible progress.

The creative outlet, which was strictly optional, was to design a chair made from various materials: Pipe cleaners, wire, beads, and imagination. As we listened, ate, talked, prioritized, laughed and became better acquainted with one another, we also created a chair representative of us and our task at hand of “chairing” some event or ask.

By the end of the retreat, several completed chairs were passed around for oohs and ahhhs. Oh, how I wished I had brought my camera! Each chair was indeed unique, representative of its creator and just spilling over with artistic genius! The funniest and certainly most endearing, moment was when my husband and I placed our chairs side by side. If you know us, you’ll love this picture (I snapped this picture at home):

While mine was, well, what you might expect from me, Arden’s (left chair) was delightfully sturdy, stable, well-made… also what you would expect from him. I love the contrast the two chairs created but it wasn’t until we showed the chairs to our son, Carter, when he commented on their scale. The way he put it was something like this, “Whoever can fit into one chair can also fit into the other, isn’t that cool?” Pretty astute for a 13 year old, I think. What he hit upon is that our chairs shared the same scale. And in that moment I realized that our chairs were a perfect snapshot of our life together, me and Arden. Some similarities, some differences… well, maybe a lot of differences to those who only look at he outside, but we live our lives in scale with one another.

Perhaps that accounts for the harmony we so often experience in our household, even in these tumultuous times.

At any rate, this art activity ran deep and wide for me. I learned a lot that day of the retreat but even more about myself, my love and our life together later on.

Art is like that. It mirrors your reality, makes things clearer, gives voice to your life and times.

Art is worth doing.