Sunday, February 14, 2010

What If?

One of the most common questions studio visitors ask is, “How did Steven discover that sculpture was his talent?” followed by, “When did he know that this was what he was meant to do?’ It’s the kind of query that you don’t get in more traditional occupations, but we hear it so frequently that we’ve developed a response that strikes Steven as, more or less, accurate.

We explain that Steven’s parents were in the Royal Air Force and that as a result he frequently changed schools. We add that he suffers from dyslexia and had a hard time catching up in more traditional subjects. It was in art, always in art, that felt comfortable.

It was art that became his constant. By the time he was ready to think about university the choice of focus was all but decided. In many ways, it’s been both a blessing and a great responsibility to have your chosen path appear so early and so clearly. Steven rarely suffers from the great debate of “what am I going to do with my life?” At that same time he feels a great responsibility to give voice and opportunity to his talent. It’s as if other careers are disrespectful toward his talent.

We found ourselves newly considering our origin story when Steven went this week to meet with a representative from Chartwell School about working with their art education program. The local school is specially designed to work with students with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, with specialized education. Steven visited Chartwell’s beautiful eco-conscious campus and met with students, teachers and members of the administration. He left full of ideas about how to collaborate with the school, ways to give to others the resource that art was for him.

But at the same time, he wondered, “What if?” “What if he had gone to a school like Chartwell when he was young? What if reading had been easier? Would art still have been the obvious path? Would Steven still be “Steven” if he was doing something complete different?

It’s impossible to know, but were thrilled to be playing even a little part in the important work being done by Chartwell. They are providing children with options for their future, with the confidence that any career, even something as impossible a sculpture, is possible.

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