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Field Notes 04/22/16

glombaguzm's picture

Friday, 9am


I arrived to the center and found *Sam* in his station. He had four artists working on painting in squares on cylinders. *Lenny* was also there. He had done some progress on his Venus fly trap sculpture, but he wasn’t working on it while I was there. There was a new center-goer, *Mariana,* in *Sam’s* station. I could see that most of the artists were working well independently and that *Sam* didn’t have any tasks for me, so I sat down at the table and just talked with the center-goers. I was talking with *Mariana* mostly. She asked me if I was new too and I explained to her who I was and what I was doing at the center. I asked her how she was doing in the center. She said she was liking it, but that she was kind of nervous. She also mentioned that she was very excited to continue to grow as an artist. I asked her what type of art she liked and she mentioned that she liked painting a lot, more than drawing. We continued to talk about art and other projects that she had worked on. It was a really nice conversation and I felt like I really connected with *Mariana.* I think that was the first conversation I had with one of the artists where I really felt a connection, but then I began to think that this was because *Mariana* and I communicated in a very similar way. *Mariana* shared my modes of communicating and socializing. This then made me think that I was not trying hard enough to get to know other center-goers.

                  I then talked to *Paulo* who was working on painting a design that he created. He was the only one who got to create his own design because his dexterity allowed him to create intricate designs that were acceptable for the project at hand. I asked him if he was enjoying the project. He said yes, but that he really prefers to draw. I told him that I also like drawing better. He then said that the project was good though because it gets him to do something different. I thought it was great that he was using this project to better himself as an artist. By this time, it was snack time. The artists left to the cafeteria but I stayed in the station with *Sam.* Most of the art teachers were ensuring that the center-goers were going to the cafeteria. They particularly struggled with one of the artists who kept going back to the work space. Finally, they were able to get all the center-goers to the cafeteria. I stayed with *Sam* in his station and just chatted about his work and my summer plans.

                  Once the artists came back from snack, they began again working on their projects. One of the artists, *Brian*, comes up to me. He shows me a drawing he made of himself singing at a talent show. He asks me what colors he should use to fill in the drawing. I give him some thoughts but inevitably say that whatever he chooses will look good. I ask him what colors he likes and what colors he sees as working best for this drawing. He then says to me, “Well, that’s the problem. I don’t really know what would look best. That’s why I’m asking for your opinion. It’s my way of asking… for you know, that bad word.” I asked him what he meant by that. He then explained that ‘help’ was the bad word. I then said, “Help isn’t a bad word! Why do you think asking for help is bad?” Which he replied with, “Because I’m trying to do things by myself.” I didn’t really know how to respond. So I just said that I understood but that I don’t think help means that you’re not doing something by yourself. But I was saying this he was already going back to his station. A couple of minutes after this, I left to go to the train station. 


Florian's picture

Hearing that one of the artists thought it was bad to ask for help just breaks my heart. As far as I can tell, it doesn't seem like it would be in line with the Center's culture for them to have told him it was bad to ask for help. I wonder if it was an internalization of this idea that we have in our culture (especially toxic to people with disabilities) that independence is a measure of a person's value. I wonder how one could help someone (and help themselves, because this I think is something we all struggle with) to overcome this sort of internalized pressure.