When I Grow Up… A Collaborative Mural for Children

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Mar 142015
 
Collaborative Mural for Children by BZTAT

“When I Grow Up…” mural by BZTAT and friends

Last weekend I participated in the annual SmARTsplash event at the Canton Cultural Center for the Arts. For the past couple of years, I have been hired by ArtsinStark to create a “Dialogues” mural with children at the event. It is an activity that I enjoy, because children being creative is so fun!

The entire event offers a number of creative activities for children and also showcases performances and artistic creations from various groups in Stark County. My mural is one of those activities.

I wanted to do something that captured the essence of childhood aspiration, so I used my mural to ask the age old question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I painted the background and the child images beforehand. At the event, I and a volunteer helper asked children that stopped by to draw a picture of what they wanted to do when they grew up.

I emphasized to my volunteer helper that I wanted to say, “What do you want to do…” instead of “What do you want to be…”. It is a slight distinction, but an important one. I wanted them to focus on what they wanted to do, because they have no real choice about what they will be.

After they drew their pictures, I glued them into the background of the mural, and I put a wash of color over them. As you look at the mural you are drawn into looking at all of the children’s aspirations.

As I glued the images in, I listened to the interactions between the children and the adults with them as they drew under my volunteer’s guidance. There was an awkwardness, as parents tried to explain the task to their youngsters. Their explanations often fell to traditional gender roles, girls being asked, “Do you want to be a teacher or a nurse or a ballerina?” and boys being asked, “Do you want to be a policeman or fireman or a doctor?” I say awkwardness, because they would quickly throw in some less gender specific roles after realizing what they had done.

Let’s face it, it is not easy to change our traditional ways, especially when it comes to raising children. We tend to fall back on what our parents taught us, even though intellectually, we have strong opinions different than our parents’ ideas.

I was encouraged, though, because the children, male and female, recognized that they had options that were beyond what was available when I was growing up. Two girls (apparently future entrepreneurial partners) drew pictures that said, “I want to make a bakery!” and an equal balance of males and females drew pictures of themselves as scientists. There were many children who wanted to be artists, actors, singers and sports heroes. Local universities might want to take note of how many children wanted to be veterinarians. And a number of boys said that they wanted to be “dads,” recognizing that family roles were of great value.

The purpose of a “Dialogues” mural is twofold. First, the goal is to create a dialog between the artist and the community as the artwork is created. Second, the dialog is continued as the mural is viewed by others. The first part is now complete. The second part is about to begin. The mural will be displayed in my gallery at Second April Galerie and Studios at the next Canton First Friday. After that, it will travel to different schools in the community and other locations for viewing.

I hope you get a chance to join the dialog.

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

Contact BZTAT about having a Dialogues mural created for your event!

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Blogpaws West: Pets. Pet Lovers. Pet Art. What More Could You Want?

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Sep 142010
 
BlogPaws West Mural

BZTAT with her "Hand to Hand, Paw to Paw" Mural BlogPaws West 2010

When you have an experience as great as BlogPaws West 2010, it is impossible to put into words. I will say a few, then let the pictures tell the story.

I arrived a day early to Denver so I could get things prepared for painting the mural. I had mailed my supplies to the hotel in advance, however, they ended up arriving 3 days late! Luckily, there was a wonderful art supply store nearby. I ended up purchasing all new materials.

The mural image consisted of a dog and cat superimposed on a large heart for the background. Since the theme was about celebrating the worldwide community of pet lovers, it seemed an appropriate image.

The dog was a portrait of Lorenza,  who was recently rescued and adopted in Canton, OH. The cat was a portrait of Mickey, whose human (a rescue volunteer) suddenly died recently, leaving her beloved pet without a home.

At the start of the conference, Mickey had no home. Conference attendees took up the charge for his plight, tweeting and retweeting for support.

When I arrived back home to Canton, I learned that Mickey had been adopted to a new loving family!

Creating the mural while interacting with some of the most interesting and inspiring people on earth was a treasure for me. I was deeply moved by the comments people wrote for the mural as well as the stories they shared during the process.

I thank Tom, Yvonne and Caroline, the BlogPaws founders, for allowing me to use their event as my studio for 3 wonderful days.

And I thank all the people who shared and contributed to the mural.

I will soon be receiving professional photographs of the mural, which I will share in this space. In the meantime, enjoy the slide show below to get a real taste of what BlogPaws was all about.

Would you like BZTAT to create a “Dialogues Mural” at your event? Read more here.

Why BlogPaws is so Important to Me

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Sep 022010
 

This post originally appeared here on April 1, 2010. Since I am going to the second BlogPaws conference in Denver, CO next week, I wanted to share it again (with updated links). It is especially poignant for me since I will be speaking at and creating a mural at BlogPaws West.

BZTAT

When I was child, I was painfully shy. I am talking pathological anxiety, excruciating and terrified of people kind of shyness.

Even though I have been a mental health therapist for 19 years, I still do not know where the shyness came from. I do, however, know what saved me from it.

Animals.

Having family pets gave me friends of whom I was unafraid, and who showed me unconditional love. My pets also gave me something that I could talk about with people, alleviating some of my social anxieties.

I am 48 years old now, and I now feel fairly comfortable in most social situations. I even have found comfort in speaking in front of large groups. Even so, I still rely on my love of animals as one of my mainstay conversation topics.

So it is no wonder that I gravitated towards pet lovers when I stepped into the vast sea of social media.

Through my blogging cat Brewskie Butt, I have met hundreds of pet lovers from all over the world, and I have developed friendships that are very deep and meaningful through online interaction. I have even had the opportunity to meet some of these people face to face, enjoying a more full experience of our shared love of animals.

Next week, I will get the chance to  meet many more of these people and other new friends at [BlogPaws West], the [second] ever pet blogging conference, being held in [Denver, CO]. I can’t wait!

I am looking forward to the event as an opportunity to expand my professional network as a pet portrait artist and blogger, and I am hoping to learn some new skills to enhance my online presence.

More than anything, though, I am looking forward to meeting people who share the love that I have of animals on a personal as well as professional level.  And, I am looking forward to meeting some of their pets also, because many people will be  bringing their animals with them to the conference!

Robert Brault said, “The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude.”

I believe this to be true. We allow pets into a very special place in our hearts that is unguarded and unfettered. Friends who understand this best are the ones I most want to allow in my company.

So you see, painting pets is more than just a niche art style for me. It is something that connects me to the world from a place deep within my soul.

And that is why meeting up with fellow pet lovers at BlogPaws is so important to me.

I hope to see YOU at BlogPaws!