Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A side note from the craft fair...

One booth at the craft fair always sells handicrafts that have been made by mentally-handicapped adults. (If that's not the currently accepted term, forgive me. I figured niepeĊ‚nosprawni wouldn't convey the meaning.)

Anyway, sometimes they have quite nice things to sell, and they charge very, very little. We have a Christmas Fair in December, and at that fair, they always sell the cutest gift tags and handmade cards. The booths are manned by the craftsman, although there is usually someone supervising things to make sure all runs smoothly, change is given correctly, and so on.

I always make a point of stopping by their booth, and it's worthwhile partly just because there is always a wide variety of crafts to look at. I spotted the little green bowl there, which I quite liked, and they were selling for less than $4. I asked them to pack it up for me, and one young woman began to do so. Unfortunately, in the process she struck it against something hard, and cracked it in several places. Nevertheless, she packed it up for me, and I paid for it. As you can see, it is all together still, but it is weakened, and it wouldn't take much for it to come apart in several pieces.

Believe it or not, that is where this drawing by Picasso comes in. I grew up with the drawing in a particular context, never knowing it was by Picasso.

My Pastor's oldest son was mentally handicapped. He was a few years younger than I was, but I first met him when I was only eight years old. Scott never learned to speak, but he was part of my church life all the ensuing years as I grew to adulthood. His mother devoted hours of time to educating him as best she could, and we all treated him much as we would have treated any non-speaking 2 or 3 year old child. He was part of our church family; we looked out for him, and many church members, including myself, donated time to implementing his various therapies. Scott wasn't a "people person," and didn't pay much attention to us!

The picture of the bouquet always hung in the Pastor's kitchen, and his wife told me, on multiple occasions, that for her, that picture represented Scott. She felt that the imperfectly drawn hands looked like the hands of a disabled child. She said the flowers represented the fact that such children had something beautiful to offer the world, if we would only reach out and accept it.

Without my quite realizing it, my association with Scott and this picture created a connection in my mind between art and the mentally handicapped. I think that's why I'm always drawn to that particular booth at the fair, and why I never fail to buy something that they've made. My cracked bowl seems to be a symbol of the people who created it. They are lovely creations of God's hand, yet fragile and imperfect in some way. They need to be handled gently, lest further damage be done. And yet, if we allow it--if we can appreciate them without minding the cracks--they have something beautiful to offer the world. I still quite like the little green dish.


At 5:34 AM , Blogger Donna-Jean said...

How beautiful! Thank you for sharing this.


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