Thursday, May 8, 2014

How My Mom Gave Me a Love For the Arts, Part Three

In the week leading up to Mother's Day, we'll be sharing a handful of personal essays written by The New Victory Theater/The New 42nd Street staff members. We gave them instructions to interview their moms about how and why the arts were integrated into their childhoods and received back these touching stories! For young mothers and parents looking to introduce their own children to the arts, join us for Baby Rave happening May 7-18 at the Duke on 42nd Street! Happy Mother's Day!

by Ben Weber

My mom writes me an email every day. She's been doing this for years. Here's one she sent me last week.

Hi Ben,
Happy Friday! Enjoy your day off today and good luck with all your activities this weekend! I love you very,very much!
much, much love,
p.s. Enclosed is a HUGE,WARM hug and many warm & loving thoughts!

By now, I have thousands of these thoughtful, loving offerings of text. I find them so nourishing and inspiring both in life and in my artistic practice.

With Mother's Day coming up, my colleague at the New Vic asked me to talk to my mom about how she included the arts in my life growing up. So, I recently had a conversation with my mom about my creative childhood and her relationship to art:

Ben: So I’m going to ask you a few questions about how the arts were important to you as a parent.

Mom: Oh, we took you to arts stuff constantly. I remember we took you to an outdoor [Milwaukee] symphony concert and you were conducting right along with the orchestra.

Oh man…

You were always very creative—from painting rocks to making little books. We went to the Washington D.C. sculpture garden and dad took all those pictures of you posing in front of the statues.

Why did you take me to all of this cultural stuff?

We liked it too. We took you to a Raffi concert when you were three.

Did you like Raffi?

We loved Raffi! We played you all of his records at home.

Do you consider yourself an artist?

No. I’m not an artist. I’m a teacher. I like to help people. But I’m not an artist.

But you enjoy art...

Sure. I enjoy flowers but I’m not a gardener. I enjoy sweaters but I’m not a knitter.

These emails you write me, I consider them works of art.

I just see it as an expression of love. And art…art is just part of a rich life.

Thank you, Mom. Your love for me is a work of art.