Shannon Slee of Quincy, IL shares an amazing testimonial of the importance of the Quincy Art Center in her family’s life, and the lasting impact it has left on her children.
“I’ve always been a crafty person. Whether indulging in photography, scrapbooking, sewing, crafting home décor, or other modes of art, it has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I started having children life changed drastically. Now a mother to four children ages four and under, my days are a blur of diaper changes, sippy cup refills, snack distribution, nose wipes, butt wipes, toddler dispute refereeing, hugs and sloppy wet kisses, nap time battles, and general exhaustion. My ability to pursue my love for art in the ways of the past has become a memory, limited by the intermittently beautiful and ugly chaos of parenthood.
Instead of disappearing from my life, however, art’s importance in it has transformed into something different but even more profound. In many ways I can credit this to the blossoming love my 4-year-old son has for art thanks to the “Pint Sized Picassos” class at the Quincy Art Center. A friend invited him to go to this class with her a year ago. Although he was very shy, he went outside of his comfort zone and attended with her. After the first class it was clear that he had no regrets about that choice! Ever since then, he searches for the artistic possibilities in just about everything he sees and is constantly coming up with ideas for projects. This year, both he and my 3-year-old daughter attend this class at the Art Center together and look forward with great excitement to Fridays each week when they get to go.
The endless possibilities of things they can create brings both of them joy and confidence and is so visibly nourishing to their little souls. And of course my 1½-year-old daughter, who wants to do everything that big brother and sister do, is right there with them in everything. Watching their creativity blossom has been one of the great gifts of this season of life. My oldest, in particular, uses it to express his love for parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends by coloring pictures and creating collages for them on a daily basis. My refrigerator is bursting with art—layers upon layers of pictures, paintings, and projects—on all sides.
As for me, I have mountains of unfinished projects and unscrapbooked memories and artistic dreams that are currently on hold. But I have been able to facilitate more toddler-friendly and preschool-aged arts and crafts projects than I can count. Many of the ideas I come up with for projects have been inspired by works of art the children have brought home from their class at the Art Center. I have diligently used photography to record the precious and fleeting moments of a time in my and my children’s lives that will be gone in the blink of an eye…and more than a few of those photographed moments include smiling or concentrating faces of children with paintbrushes, markers, crayons, glue, and scissors. What’s more, after a near-tragedy in our family where our son very nearly died, we worked together as a family to use art as an act of worship to proclaim the goodness of God. Art is manifested all over our lives.
While it has taken on a very different role in my life than it played several years ago, art continues to be of exceptional importance to me, and now, to my little flock. I am so grateful to the Quincy Art Center for the way they have rekindled my artistic spirit by inspiring my little ones to see through creative lenses. What a treasure it is not only to pursue art in its many delightful forms, but to do so with the people who are most special to me.”