All Minds Are Not Created Equal
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
— Pablo Picasso
I visited my local library yesterday.
Libraries aren’t as popular as they used to be. That’s because the Internet has domineered the ways we get information. Smartphones provide instant access to more knowledge than any collection of books. Now, some people are saying there’s no need for libraries anymore.
Libraries are so much more than just a place to read. This past week, my local library, the West Sahara branch in Las Vegas, offered classes for guitar instruction, yoga, meditation, language lessons, dance, acting, writing, moviemaking, winter gardening, and even how to buy your first house. That’s just for starters. My local library also hosted multiple music recitals, emotional support groups, travel narratives, book and movie discussion clubs, exercise for seniors, and several other interesting activities that enrich people’s lives. The possibilities of discovery remain endless. If something’s not on your interest list, anyone in the community is welcome to come in and start their club or host an event.
I’m a big believer in libraries. They’re a lifeline. They reflect the best of us. They educate us. They inspire us. In a smothering checkerboard of banks, fast-food joints, and shopping malls, which is pretty much what all cities have become, libraries remain an oasis where curiosities can be explored. I think we need more safe places where people can meet and talk and learn and get to know each other. We need more bonds between us and fewer isolation chambers.
That’s what libraries are for. That’s what libraries do. Libraries bring people together.
Something I saw yesterday reinforced this strong belief in libraries. It gave me pause to recognize the vital role libraries play in the lives of so many people. I’d like to share this story with you.
Inside most branch libraries here in Las Vegas are small art galleries. They’re nothing fancy. The displays change about once a month. In the past, I’ve seen galleries with paintings, sculptures, photography, and other works of art. Most of the displays were created by local artists. Just about all of them are amateurs.
I nearly passed the display by without even noticing it. But something caught my attention and enticed my curiosity to step inside and explore. Paintings were displayed upon the walls. There were close to 100 paintings in all. No one was there. The room was empty, except for the paintings, and me.
One by one, I gazed at the artworks. Some made more of an impression than others. But all were interesting and worth thinking about for at least a few moments. Each painting represented someone’s time and effort. Each painting also revealed something within the artist’s emotions that was important enough it needed to be shared. Artists must not only feel what they create. They must create what they feel.
After looking at a dozen or so paintings, something struck me. I hadn’t given much thought to the artists nor read about them in the small placards affixed to each painting because they were all local people. They weren’t famous. But then and there I learned they shared something more in common than just being residents of Las Vegas and being amateur artists.
Here’s where you get to take a short test. Let’s see if you can figure out what exactly each of these artists and artworks has in common. I’ve posted five images (one at the top of this article, and four more below). Take a guess and see if you recognize common bond of these talented artists who created these pictures:
I doubt many of you will get the correct answer. So, let me fill you in:
Each of these paintings was created by someone with a mental disability and/or a learning disorder.
Now, please go back and look at them again.
For those burdened with mental challenges, daily activities must be difficult, if not impossible. I can’t even imagine. Yet, while some disabilities are plainly obvious, when given an opportunity to express oneself artistically, I doubt anyone can tell any difference between someone who’s “normal” versus artists who are intellectually challenged. We all have emotions. We all have feelings. We all have needs to share. Fortunately, there’s a place where these small gifts can be seen and enjoyed.
Each of the paintings on display at my local library was created by someone with a special need. Many were painted by teens, some even by children. Looking at them, we are reminded art has no minimums nor maximums, no boundaries, and no limitations — other than what the mind can conceive.
I’m lucky to have had this accidental experience. Thanks to a local library, I was able to let my curiosity lead me to a new discovery.
We need libraries. We need art. We need each other.
To learn more about what’s happening at local Las Vegas libraries, please visit: LVCCLD
To learn more about the wonderful work done by Opportunity Village and the many volunteers, please visit: OPPORTUNITY VILLAGE