Once a month or so, I get together with a group of women fondly known as “The Art Ladies”. I joined their established group about ten years ago, and in the decade since, they have influenced my everyday life in countless ways – from my wardrobe (introducing me to jeans, prints and color) to my artistic pursuits (collaging, sewing, embroidering, encaustic) to my overall outlook on life (Life is too short! Do it! Wear it! Love it!). We range in age from 70 to 17. Our little group has been through births, deaths, moves, divorce, chronic illness, retirement and more. Through all of these trials and tribulations, art has held us together – both as a group and as individuals.
Here I’m talking about art with a little “a”. Paper and glue, needles and thread. Some of the Art Ladies exhibit their work, some sell it, but most of the stuff that gets made is just for personal satisfaction. This past Saturday we all gathered to collage corrogated cardboard houses. Everyone brought a stash of paper, doodads and whatnots, and we spent 5 hours ripping, cutting, painting and gluing. Conversation ranged from the existence of heaven to the superiority of Mod Podge over Gel Medium. And although we love getting together to work on a single project, this seems to happen maybe once or twice a year. Typical monthly gatherings take place at a centrally located Barnes and Noble, where we meet on a weeknight to pour over the latest magazines, share projects, ask questions, solicit opinions, and just be with other people who have more paper, fabric and bits of rusty metal than any normal person should.
I reached out to this group of women when my oldest son was a baby and I was desperate for a community where I could be something else besides just a mom. And although The Art Ladies know my children, this is a place just for me: a creative, safe, accepting, encouraging, familiar place. It is so much more than paper and glue, needles and thread. It is more than art. It’s home.