Celebrating Our First Creative Teachers

May 14, 2023—Happy Mother’s Day! In honor of this celebration of the women who nurtured, guided, supported, and encouraged us—mothers, grandmothers, aunties, neighbors and even teachers—I would like to make a bold declaration: There would be no arts without them!

Our mothers were our first creative teachers:

They showed us how to make delicious meals from cans or leftovers.

They demonstrated how to dress well, even if the clothes were second-hand or hand-me-downs.

They were innovative financiers, stretching budgets to make ends meet.

And they were visionary planners, who could see our limitless potential long before we could even walk.

Our mothers were our first cheerleaders:

They paid for ballet classes and costumes; piano lessons and recital tickets; instrument fees and band uniforms; painting classes and museum admissions; acting classes and theater seats… writing workshops and book club memberships…. They participated in bake sales, clothing drives, or whatever was necessary to support our first artistic dreams.

Our mothers were the original Champions for the Arts:

They challenged us to do our best and encouraged us to never give up!

The words from my late mother that fueled my dreams were, “You can do anything!” Those words have guided my life to this day. I have always felt I had wings and could fly, and I believed that whatever I dreamt about I could manifest. I became a lawyer, arts administrator, author, and professor, fueled by those encouraging words.

I am so grateful that I get to share that “you can do anything” love with my daughter and begin the cycle anew as she pursues her dreams.

It also is important to acknowledge that some of us had challenging and painful relationships with our mothers. It is my hope that you will remember these sage words— “Art is a wound turned into light” —and find peace this Mother’s Day in the knowledge that life’s complexities ignited and fueled your creative spirit.

As always, I want to know what you think. I invite you to share a story about your original creative teacher—in the comments section below.

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