Where every talent can flourish

Every person has got a unique potential that will flourish if given the chance.

This uniqueness leaves traces and clues in many ways and context, that we can eventually reconnect for trying to see its “big picture” (or vocation or any way we want to call it).

It also reveals itself through the creative process with materials. Nona Orbach has observed this phenomenon and named Spiritual Blueprint the unique imprint of a person that emerges while creating or playing with materials. Like Nona wrote in her book “The Good Enough Studio”, it is the essence of any creator’s actions, visualizations, thoughts and feelings that are conveyed physically in the making of art.

Picture by Nona Orbach: observing the Blueprint of a child and noticing the recurrence of symmetry

The atelier is the “perfect” environment to let this process of self-expression flow, like an oasis without judgements or expectations coming from “outside”.

A so simple and essential statement can revolutionize our educational approach, including the way of observing and interacting: is the curriculum and the various learnings the real final goals or rather, they are tools for supporting each unique expression and research?

Are the interests of the child a tool for the learning process or rather, is the learning process a tool for supporting the interests of the child?

I suggest to adopt the second perspective, and the open studio is probably the most suitable setting for it: a space that provides a multiplicity of materials that can be freely used. Thus, the free choice of what and how to use is a crucial aspect, but not a guarantee: how is the relational space? Is it really communicating acceptance of all forms of expressions and diversity? It can be just by a glance, a word or a silence… As educators or studio managers, we should be aware of what both the physical and the relational space are communicating and offering.

So, if the open studio is actually the best solution, what about offering a selection of a few materials or thematic workshops?

I think no solution is good or bad itself out of a specific context (for example, considering the characteristics of participants, number, age, etc.). Limited conditions can stimulate creativity sometimes. So it is mainly about how (rather than what) and also for what goal.

Of course, we should always consider what is the range of choice and freedom within a specific proposal: can different identities find their ways?

For example, during an activity with stripes of paper and stapler, is a child allowed to play only with the stapler, if this is his interest? Perhaps, observing the same child in time, we will notice that he is often involved in exploring mechanisms and tools…

In fact, time is a key element: throughout time, we can connect different clues into an organic net that will gradually take a shape, constantly evolving and enriching.

Even if we offer a few hours workshop, this perspective can assist us for making that short time a meaningful piece of something bigger. Maybe we will not see the flower blooming, but we can trust the seed and give it some water, knowing that it will flourish, sooner or later.

Cover picture by Nona Orbach