By Taekia Glass, ART 180 program director
As I was preparing to write this, in honor of my fourth year being on staff at ART 180(!), I revisited emails from my earlier time as a program leader and as a mentor. (Yes, I have emails from 7+ years ago. I am long overdue for a purge, but these are emails that connect back to memories that sometimes get lost.) I sorted through a few pictures and rummaged through things around my house that remind me of the years my family and I have been a part of it.
We have bracelets, art created at First Fridays, pieces of the “What Do You Stand For?” self-portraits, mugs created by former teen leaders, and many other ART 180 keepsakes.
One thing that has lived with me the longest, lives in my wallet.
In my wallet, I have one item, one that doesn’t lend itself to allowing me to rack up points toward discounts or free food. It has to be six or seven years old; the ink is smeared and edges frayed. The back bears the ART 180 logo and the front has a picture with an accompanying quote from a young artist that reads:
“They say you lose your imagination by the time you’re six but I still have a wild imagination. This painting is something I’ve always wanted to make. This is about having the future in my hands.”
Every time I rediscover this card I am awestruck by the simplicity and depth of this truth. This is the only card in my small wallet that does not make promises, but simply offers a reminder of how time, compassion, and art can leave a lasting feeling on the artist and the viewer.
No matter how many times I clean out my wallet this card is always the lone survivor. There’s a strength within it, in the knowledge that this young person inspired, supported, and ultimately pushed me to recognize the path that had been in front of me, waiting to be discovered.
As I reflect on my time within the ART 180 family, I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunity to know the organization, with all its various moving parts, so completely.