This post was written by Kelsey Beyeler, who has been working with Athentikos since 2017 and experienced her first I Am Art camp this summer as a workshop leader in watercolors.
It is my belief that a productive relationship is one that enables creativity and inspiration rather than stifling it. My relationship with Athentikos has provided just that. Now of course, traveling with a group of artists leaves a pretty open environment for creativity to thrive, but one aspect I didn’t realize before going was that the circumstances which we travel towards are always so inspiring. It’s hard to feel imaginative and colorful during a home visit, watching a family struggle with sickness, mental health, alcoholism, or other adversities.
The issues that surround the I Am Art camps are not the forces in the world that enable creativity, they are the ones that stifle it. This is the hard side of what we do; the kids are considered at-risk for a reason. It’s easy forget that in the middle of a workshop, because in those moments the kids aren’t in any risk, they’re just kids enjoying the beauty of art. It was difficult knowing that when the workshops ended some had to walk back to situations not so colorful.
But the model of I Am Art teaches that circumstances don’t have to stifle. It teaches us that pain needs to be transmitted in one way or another, and we worked together to explore creative ways to do that. We tried washing it away with watercolors, or dancing, or letting it go during worship. These are productive responses to pain, and if you allow it to, the process can result in beauty. This is how I know I’ve found something special with Athentikos, because it has helped me generate meaningful relationships with the kids and the team, while strengthening my own relationships with myself and God.
We still have three more 2018 I Am Art Camps! If you are unable to attend a camp but would still like to support Athentikos’ mission, we would greatly appreciate donations for our upcoming camps.