Finding our better selves through art

There is nothing better in Denver than a day in June, so long as it doesn’t give audience to that one more snowfall. It is a time to bloom and reflect, and the point when Colorado Academy students wonder about where the year went, how they managed to take part in all those productions, recitals, and art showings, and if they can possibly wrap their brains around the full experience of the past ten months—months which were an integral part of their becoming artists.

The feeling is almost always one of ennui, of both celebration and the longing for more, and of taking stock of what it has meant to work and achieve and still wish to re-write, re-wind, and re-consider the artistic choices which gave their lives texture over the span of this academic year. After all, each and every true engagement in art will always provide to us—our better selves.

Robert Browning said, “…a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?” At this time of year, we honor how our students have lived these dreams that urged them to aesthetic realizations and prompted a love for something which will always be greater than themselves, and which will continue to define them and the breath of their burgeoning world in art.

Upper School performance of Les Misérables

‘This blog is for you’

So students, if you will forgive the imperfect rhymes, this blog is for you— for your voices and instruments we proudly laud you—for Dirk Smirk, Black Comedy, and a show called Xanadu—from your towns to Our Town, Les Mis, and plays in 24, for the Dance Concert, Wild Things, short one-acts, and more. You made photos, films, 5Ups, and the tender Art of Play, and you flaunted All-School Arts Festival on a snowy Monday.

We heard Elgar and Mendelssohn, Corelli and Bach—Kamasi Washington, Snarky Puppy, and bands jazz and rock. Singing filled Schotters with voices bold and slight—songs of moons and of rainbows—Chanteurs’ Sudden Light. You called us to hear words of peace and some strife, but left us secure in our Rhythm of Life.  As you move on to summer, hold fast in your hearts, to be truly enlightened you must first Fear No Art!

The parade of elephants at "Rainbow Connections"

The parade of elephants at “Rainbow Connections”

‘Live’

Our students are indeed sublime, but they don’t get there alone. They are fortunate to work with a generous faculty of arts teachers who never stop asking the question, “What is important here?” about educating young people in the 21st century. For this I am humbled and grateful.

I would like to share a tenet I learned many years ago from American playwright Eugene O’Neill. There is a scene in his work Marco Millions, where a granddaughter is leaving her grandfather to travel far away, not to see him for a very long time, or perhaps forever. He says to her upon leaving that he will give her the only advice one human being has the right to give another human being. Then he says one word—“Live.” I was 17 years old when I read that scene. It remains with me still.

So, to my students and teachers who have worked so graciously with me these past four years, I too, say—LIVE—live well, live truthfully, fear no art, and most important of all, always, but always, put your attention on the other person. For those of us who persist in seeking our “more”—to be more creative, more accomplished, more inspired—who have heard the muses calling our names and who really do believe in the magic and power of art—here are some poignant words our Kindergarten and First Grade students sang this spring in performance:

I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it

It’s something that I’m supposed to be

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.

Peace! Love! Art!

Doc