Saturday, November 21, 2009

More cows than people.

I have been on many two lane roads these days. Not incredibly even, bubbling up and down and swiveling through mountains and fields. On these roads I am constantly mesmerized by the landscapes. Amazingly diverse layers of colors and textures. Fields, mountains, peaks, grasses, lakes, rivers...sometimes all in a single view. I read once that Montana has more cows than people, I think I believe that. Some days, I wonder if I were to break down, when would the next car come by? By car, I mean truck, I think trucks still outrank cars in this state. No blingy trucks either, serious working, useful automobiles. If my van WERE to break down, I would want to be saved by a truck. I bet that truck could build me a new van.
In these areas, the Art Mobile gets a few looks. I get a few looks too, as most people can come up with a very interesting character to play their art teacher. I should start the presentatin with a crazy dance to play into that idea, but I don't. It is amazing how we all try to size one another up, thinking that due to our previous experiences, we'll be able to tag a person based on what they look like. Well I may get the hippy/outdoorsy/outsider/blonde first impression. But, it's always amazing to me how the outsider induced cold shoulder turns incredibly warm when folks learn that I grew up in this great state, 5th generation. My dad, Butte, mom, Great Falls...those facts take me into the real Montana zone. In many towns, if not all, I have met someone who went to school with, dated, worked with some member of my family. It helps that my dad is one of 9 and my mom, one of 7. Most still live in Montana, so if that continues, we may start to outnumber the cows.
I'm always struck by Montanans. So real and lacking in most of the frills of commercialism. Yet, until I'm one of them, I hover in an outside circle. What I bring is not a necessity in many of these places. Yes, some people crave and are incredibly inspired by art. Yet, if a family has to eat, they have to be have more certainty that the art world initially provides. If cattle need to be moved, taking time to paint a pretty picture does seem frivolous in a way. But it's the bigger picture. It's understanding our history, our lives, our story. It's sharing that story and connecting with someone, something else. So I get a lot of comments that someone just doesn't "get" art. But I would make a cattle ranch go under in a matter of days. I don't "get" cattle. We each "get" something, hopefully love and are passionate about something. But isn't communication how we "get" one another? So, in essence, art is important if only as a way to get one another; to visually communicate.

There are moments in my day when I know what I do is worth it. Every teacher can feel bogged down with problems and issues. It's when a kid learns, has an "ah-ha" moment, when what I bring to these schools seems to touch a kid. Indian Education for all is an important facet of the education system. There is much to be learned about a culture that intertwines all disciplines. Because everything is connected. All too often, we attempt to appropriately label and separate EVERYTHING. Art is a part of science, history, math...everything. Native Americans seem to innately know and practice such things. That is reason enough to learn about the culture. I had a student this week who finally saw some of his world in the Art Mobile. If you think about it, the way we learn history is definitely from a specific perspective. He lit up when he saw the ledger art, because he connected to it. That's what makes it worth it. To have a kid see something at school that connects to their life and to the learning process. I like those moments.

No comments:

Post a Comment