Today my family and I traveled to Governor’s Island for a Family Festival, that was supposed to include bands and face painting, but that part was cancelled by the threat of rain. Instead we all received free bike helmets from the NYC Department of Transportation which was thrilling, saw a civil war re-enactment, and walked around the beautiful yet imposing brick buildings of the island on old cobble-stone steps. Then we happened upon the Children’s Museum of Art’s tent.
They had a big plastic tub (the kind used for photography) filled with what they called Flubber. I believe they said it was Elmer’s glue with water and some other substance I can’t remember. There were about 5 kids happily sticking their hands in the tub and working away with the gooey, sticky Flubber, painting it with dot paint, and then sticking it on Bubber, a bird made out of an old plastic water cooler container. My kids loved it, especially my oldest, who was so totally in the moment with the stuff. I couldn’t tear him away.
Then a Mom came by with her kid, and she herself started playing with the Flubber. At first I was a bit grossed out, I mean these kids pick their noses and do other yucky things with their hands, but here she was happily playing around with the goop. But then one of the facilitators brought out more fresh Flubber, and then I finally allowed myself to play with it. It was very cold and goopy, and I felt like I had triumphed over the voice in my head that said I couldn’t do it.
It made me think alot about the ways we self-sabotage our creativity. The voice that says we can’t do it. And how a simple thing like using your hands to manipulate a material can just take you so far out of your worries and the everyday and into the flow. When I was in Art Therapy class at SVA one evening my teacher brought out two large plastic bags of what were basically kid’s type crafts she had bought at a dollar store: play-doh, paint in the velvet painting, etc. We all just sat there. Then the discussion started and she asked how we felt. I raised my hand and said I didn’t feel I was allowed to do this. But then we all dove in and it was so beautiful, so messy. She said when you’re feeling stressed just try this.
It’s been a really stressful week for me, so I guess I needed this reminder to get back to the simplicity of just making art and not worrying about the outcome. It really does work wonders on your mind, your stress level, and for your soul. Tomorrow I’ll make some art with the kids without any expectation, with just the joy that a child-like mind can bring to the table.