Art on the Move: Resilience-building through Connecting & Creating; Creating & Connecting

Angela Jernigan
Jun 26, 2018 · 5 min read

Fear of tests, sibling conflict, relationship repair in friendship, and school shootings.

All discussed in an afternoon… with an array of delicious art supplies spread across the table at our favorite kitchen away from home… Saul’s Deli in Berkeley, California.

This is Art on the Move, where my daughter, her close friends, and anyone else who is free to join us, gather every Monday afternoon to be moved by art as we connect and create, create and connect.

Art on the Move was born by necessity, out of tumult. Last summer when we suddenly had to move out of our house & give away all of our belongings because of a black mold problem, among the heartbreaking things I walked away from was my studio of mixed media art supplies-which I had collected for myself and shared with kids through camps and classes for the last several years.

That studio of deliciousness was a big part of my personal resilience in life, but I didn’t know that fully until it was no longer mine.

Until then, I did art with kids because it was fun. Fun for me, fun for them. And years ago when I was a single mom with a toddler facing a long day ahead without me-time in sight for days, strapping on aprons and applying layers and splatters and designs of color to a cardboard box was a way we could both have a fun afternoon. You know if you’ve spent long stretches of time with your little kid(s), it’s important to figure out what nourishes you both. Art was that for me: mutual nourishment and delight for me and my kid. As she got older, I invited more kids to join us.

When we walked away from everything we owned last summer, one of the surprising gifts was that we got to see what matters most to us. Beyond physical safety for us and our little dogs, and beyond being in it together, we found out in those first few days what few little items we needed to feel hopeful, nourished, and lighthearted — even in a hard time.

For my daughter, it was a few favorite books. The kind that had become like familiar friends. She needed to have them close, especially now. For my husband, it was a few stones of serpentine… a rock that he loved to carry because it spoke to him through his palms saying something like this: healing is happening, can you feel it?

For me, it was a bottle of fluid acrylic and a few gel pens. I didn’t even need paper. As soon as we bought a few groceries, I had what turned out to be my new favorite surface to work on: brown paper bags.

Even beyond those first few days of perching in a temporary apartment, I discovered this year that I needed a few art supplies with me almost all the time. So I carried this little kit, which expanded to include some rubber stamps and ink pads, sharpie markers, and India inks. It was my little bag of delight that made me hopeful to have with me. As hopeful as my big studio chock with supplies had ever made me, it turns out. And boy, did I need it.

Art on the Move became a thing in our life. This little kit I carried everywhere, whether I would have time to use it or not.

But of course it was more than a thing. It was symbol, a promise. An act of whimsical defiance in an impossible situation.

And this school year, Art on the Move has been about gathering every Monday afternoon that we can, with whoever is free and interested, at Saul’s Deli to connect and create, create and connect.

And what I’ve seen is that art matters to people young and old. Perhaps most in difficult times. Which at this point, we pretty much are all marinating in.

Art on the Move is a container in which we hold all that we hold, following the impulse we all have together what we have, and create.

Creating art says there is always, no matter how insanely tragic the circumstance, a spirit of repair, of change, of new life whispering and nudging and beckoning — using the language of delight — something amazing is still possible, even out of this.

Doing it together is how we build resilience in impossible times. When balancing our attention with the colors that call out to us, the textures that soothe, and enliven us, we can begin to take little glimpses into the challenges our lives have presented us with: science tests, family conflict. And yes, the growing awareness that violence happens, even in schools.

There’s a lot I still don’t know about what’s ahead for me, for my family, for any of us in these times. I am still not taking new clients or teaching new parenting classes, not until things on the home front are more secure. But what I do know is this: it doesn’t entirely matter what happens to us, it matters how we are with one another — and with ourselves — in the tumult. Because we have been through a grueling couple of years as a family, as a nation, and yet resilience, connection and hope are still more than possible. From there, the future remains open.

And in the meantime, you know where we’ll be on Monday afternoons. Please join us, whenever and however you can. At Saul’s Deli on most Monday afternoons.

Or join us in the spirit of Art on the Move from wherever you are…. by putting some layers of color and texture on cardboard box or brown paper bag, following the whispers of your own heart saying, yes, yes, yes.

And as you create and connect, connect and create, from wherever you are know this:

We are in it together, and something amazing is still possible. Even from here.

Angela Jernigan

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Mother, minister, artist… In 2018, I am listening to and following those women who know How to Make a Way Out of No Way...