a dangerous journey

for the last 4 weeks i’ve been spending an hour, every monday, with 4 beautiful art makers.  we’ve made mandalas, sculpted our dream worlds, played with paint, and told stories about who we are and what we love.

these artists are all young – between 8 and 12 years old – and are all girls.  in our short time together i have seen sweet moments of courage and honesty; there has been a lot of silliness and laughter; i have witnessed juicy moments of discovery and unfettered creativity.

today was our last week together. we drank tea out of small glasses, made free form mandalas with watercolor pencils, and talked about things that mattered from our day and our week. i brought up the idea of life being a journey. of every day being new and different from the one that came before it.  some days we feel like we’re on the top of a mountain. other days, the bottom of a valley. still others, teetering on the edge of a cliff.  some days ask us to be brave. some days let us be silly. some days make us swoon and dance and relax.

we talked about how being an artist can be a dangerous thing. how there are risks involved sometimes. how sometimes we have to be really brave. we have to be willing to be ourselves, and tell our stories, even if it feels like nobody else understands. these may sound like big words or heavy topics for a table full of young artists. and maybe, in some ways, they are.

but as i watched their faces, and listened to their stories, i felt assured that they understood somehow what we were talking about.  one girl told me about her mom who, she said, makes the most beautiful drawings. but she hides them, or throws them away, because she doesn’t think they’re any good. another girl talked about not wanting to make art anymore because other people didn’t like the kind of art she made.

letting ourselves spill open, telling our stories, painting the pictures of our lives…these are dangerous choices. to do this with honesty means making ourselves vulnerable. it means taking the risk that we will be misunderstood or maybe even rejected. it means being willing to believe in ourselves, to believe that we have something worth saying, and maybe more so, something worth being heard.

4 weeks isn’t a lot of time. and there are a lot of things i wish i’d had the time to do and share with these young girls. and maybe some of these words were too big today. but maybe some of them were just right. i want these girls to be proud of their stories and the things they create with their hands and their hearts. and i want them to know, no matter what lays ahead, they’re not alone on this dangerous journey…spilling open 003

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015