There is Magic in the World: Mindful Play, Making Things, Anne Hamilton and the Columbus Art Museum

“For the record, woohoo! Not just art, but life- magic.” 

– Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You the Sun

I am just learning how to play again; how to make life magical. How to find the silky seedlings in dried out pods while walking and then set them free in the wind one by one.

How to grab hand-fulls of leaves and smoosh them into my face before tossing them high into the air and watching them fall.

How to whisper stories to trees while I press my hand to the rough bark and listen for an answer. (See The Silent Friends video).

It is good learning.

This last week my husband Jamey and I took Sawyer (our five-year-old) to see the Lego exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art.

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In the Lego exhibit of the Columbus downtown landscape, some pieces were true-to-life depictions of landmarks, like the “Art” sculpture outside of Columbus College of Art and Design. These were side-by-side magical landscapes of shark infested waters and magical forests. Quite fun.

After visiting the Lego models, we wandered into a part of the museum with which I really and truly fell in love: the children’s play area. Let me see if I can explain this…  It was an explosion of awesome.

I wanted to curl into every nook.

I wanted to live in its bones.

I wanted to eat it.

I know that isn’t incredibly descriptive of the experience. Let’s try photos:

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Inside of a closet-sized nook, rested a log. When I looked inside of the log, I found this tiny tree.

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In a room created by walls of rock, sat a table with bits of paper, masking tape. The rock walls had tiny rooms where people left creations made at the table for others to find- like tiny little collaborative art galleries.

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In the arms of a tree was a mirror, when I adjusted the lights in the mirror, the people on the other side appeared, at first vaguely and then more clearly.

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Around a pillar full of small shelves were birds nests, flowers, and other tiny sculptures created from bits of burlap, foil and tape that visitors had created and left behind.

I could have spent hours in this space: exploring, creating, rearranging, photographing. We did not have hours, but this exhibit has gotten me thinking…

In many ways, it seemed a more permanent space like the one I was blessed enough to help create for teachers at The Wexner Center where I did the mindful creativity workshop for a day.

The Wex, and Veronica Bentacourt in particular, had gathered every imaginable manipulative and art supply for me. Teachers had everything from colored pencils, markers and paper, to yarn, aluminum foil, bubble wrap and popsicle sticks.

(Excuse the photos. The lighting in the Black Box theater at the time was not conducive to photo taking.)

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We did this part of the workshop at the end of the day, and we ended up having to ask if we could keep the space for longer because teachers were so engaged in playing.

So, this has made me wonder: how can these spaces be brought out of the “special” places to which they have been designated?

I am thinking of the artists who leave their adhesive images on electric boxes. I am imagining a drawer in my kitchen filled with random bits and pieces and a shoebox gallery in my living room as a space for what I make with them.

I just re-listened to the interview between Krista Tippett and Columbus artist Anne Hamilton. There are so many beautiful threads I want to pull and unwind in this discussion, but for the moment, I will focus on this: there is something magical about the space of making, of engaging our hands. There is something magical about art in general- looking at it, feeling it- but in specific, when hands, and voices, and whole selves are engaged, when we are invested in making, we can feel it in our bones. It is wholeness. It is joy.

Hamilton states,

“…when you’re making something, you don’t know what it is for a really long time. So, you have to kind of cultivate the space around you, where you can trust the thing that you can’t name… and so how do you kind of cultivate a space that allows you to dwell in that — not knowing, really.”

Sounds like magic to me.

In an article about the interview, On Being contributor Mariah Hegelson states, “Creation is ever unfolding. And I guess in this way, like Ann Hamilton said, we are all makers. We all continue the creation with every ordinary extraordinary moment.”

Watch this video and see if you can sense the magic of the maker.

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Where do you find the magic in life? 

Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

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