A couple of years ago, when I was doing some regular work for an area art museum, my daughter, Ani, asked me if, on our next trip to visit the museum, it’d be okay if we took along some of her artwork to show the museum.
That was a tricky conversation we had to have then, about who gets to decide what hangs in museums for other folks to look at. But it wasn’t hard for me to suggest to her that we can make our own display spaces whenever and wherever we have something we’re proud of, something we want other people to see. And we have them at our house – the piano wire stretched along the back of our playroom, for one. There’s always a fresh clothespin or two there for hanging the next made thing. Our refrigerator is another, frequent home to excellently made things by our children.
Museums have, for the most part, embraced the idea that the stuff that visitors make or create is valuable. They even have fancy names for it – “User Contributed Content” I’ve heard some of my museum-y friends call it. But the stuff that the visitors make is not often given the same prominence of place as the stuff that the museum selected to hang. That’s okay. It’s their space.
What isn’t okay, at least to me, is how many students and grownups I meet who would say they don’t have anything to share, or to hang up for folks to look at because they’re proud of how they made it, or what it looked like when they finished. They’re not making stuff. And the stuff that they make by accident isn’t something they’re proud of.
We should all have a refrigerator and a handful of magnets around and available for us to use to display our next creation. We should all be creating regularly enough that we know we’ll have a “next creation.” And it should be easy for us to find and see and respond to the refrigerators of the people we care the most about.
This blog turns ten years old right around now – I’m not sure of the exact date. Since I started it, it’s been my fridge of sorts for posting stuff I’ve been wondering or thinking about, and some of the stuff I was proud of or wanted to share. I go through different periods of activity here – I’ll write regularly for a while, then drift away for a bit. Some of what I’m most proud of doesn’t make it here, because it shouldn’t be shared widely, or I don’t want it on the Internet, but plenty of it does. And having the blog reminds me that I CAN share stuff, even if I don’t.
Even when I’m not writing here, though, I am thinking about what I might make next, and I know that I can create and make things whenever I’d like to. That’s something that I don’t think plenty of capable people have – the knowledge that they’ll be making something in the future that I’ll want to share. Even when I’m my most frustrated, I carry that little bit of hope, the hope that I’m not done yet, and there’s more that I can contribute.
“How can we make sure that everybody carries hope like that?” is something I’m wondering about as I start the second decade of my life as a blogger.
What’s on your fridge right now? What’ll you put there next? And where are the fridges that we need for sharing the stuff that won’t fit in other places?