For The Artists

“The job of an artist is to take those masks, the paper ones, and rip them from the walls.  Behind the iPhone, photo, tunes, the leather purses and the diamond wristwatch, are people — dying, bleeding, aching, breathing, grasping, holding tight.” by Sarah Klatt

I plagiarized “For The Artists” from my friend, Sarah.  See, Sarah’s an artist who performs slam poetry, and she’s at camp with me this week.  I’ll tell you more about Sarah in a minute.

During weeks of preparation for camp this week, I thought a lot about the how.  I thought about the mechanics of art projects.  I thought about how to appeal to creative kids.  I thought about how to tie-dye socks.  I thought about cotton-content, supplies, and equipment.  I thought about the number of yards of floss I need for friendship bracelets.  I thought about quantities of paint and beads and paper.

But, as camp drew closer, I found my thoughts turning to why.  Why do art at camp?  What’s the deeper meaning in crafts?  In short, why bother?  And for whom?

There are certain kinds of kids who are drawn to art like moths to flame.

Sure — some crafts appeal across the board because the end product is so appealing.  But I’m not talking about the tie-dye kids for now.  I’m talking about the kids for whom art has by-products that are as necessary to them as sleep, air, water, and sunshine.

There are kids who need a break from all the noise.  And camp is a noisy, noisy place.  They need an acceptable place to put their heads down and focus on something other than the hard social tasks of making new friends and being outgoing.  I’m an Internet Extrovert and Real Life Introvert, so I get it.  I need hunker-down time every day to recharge and get my Nice on, and it’s my honor to provide it at camp for kids who need it, too.

And then there are the kids who are true artists.  Kids who need art on an entirely different level.  They use art as shelter.  Art as expression.  Art as light.  Art as worship.  Art as quiet.  Art as a life-force.  Art as communion with God and with nature.

This week, Sarah is teaching a class to our campers, and she’s using art as a medium for learning.  Sarah’s also an artist in her own right.  She writes and performs slam poetry.

Slam what?

Yeah, if you’re asking that, you’re not alone.  (And if you already know, bear with me.)  Sarah described a poetry slam as a combination of rap, theatre and poetry.  And she shared her original work, For The Artists, with the staff at camp as an introduction to the “why” of art.  Why she’s using art in her class.  Why it’s important.  Why it makes sense.

I wish I’d whipped out my phone in time to record Sarah’s performance for you.  It was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was very moved.  Sarah captured, so much better than I did above, what art means when it lives and breathes and moves inside of you.

Sarah said, “The job of an artist is to take those masks, the paper ones, and rip them from the walls.  Behind the iPhone, photo, tunes, the leather purses and the diamond wristwatch, are people — dying, bleeding, aching, breathing, grasping, holding tight.”

Sarah’s graciously allowing me to post a video of the same poem (previously recorded) for you.  The words are below the vid, in case you want to read in more depth.

Tomorrow, I plan to post on Art as Light… and actually follow through on my pledge to post our craft projects.  (See?  Day One, and I’m already Off Plan.  We all knew this would happen, right?)

For now, enjoy!

For The Artists
by Sarah Klatt


For the Artists
by Sarah Klatt
Would you look
Can you see
With your eyes
From the soul to
The window
To the world
See an artist
Me with my camera
Hand with the paintbrush
Mouth ready for music
Photo snap moments
Actors let the tears come
And what for?
You say art for the sake of art
Art to make the mulah
For people who can’t live
Within the
Structures of
Taking crayons to
The lines of mediocrity
Hammers to break
White washed cups
The ones people
Hold when they
Wanna look cool
You see us with
Rose-colored glasses
Cause that’s what’s on
Your face
You want to look
At the world and
Miss the pain?
Go into four corners
And five walls
Covered in hearts
They’re round and red
But don’t look
Too hard
Or you’ll see
They’re not the same
Color, size or shape
Some have hard marks
And rips
Thin paper no
They ain’t
Those hearts are people
Real and
They beat and
The job of an artist is
To take those masks
The paper ones
And rip them from
The walls
Behind the iphone, photo, tunes
The leather purses and
The diamond wristwatch
Are people
Dying, bleeding
Aching, breathing,
Grasping, Holding
That camera sits
On the shoulders of the real
Back into the corners
Darkness that blinds
The hand that
Holds the brush
Splatters the dreams of
Held up
Locked down
Burnt out places
Those lips that dare to
Voice the voiceless
Speak words that
Cower and fear
Words of life like a
Gun that shoots
On a day a hundred
And five degrees
A thousand words per
Picture please
When you capture
That face, that smile, that tear
You prove to the world
That we’re one
And the same
Storytellers called
Actually reveal the truth
About humanity
The depravity that sinks
Below the news line
Children born
Trying to keep warm
When reality smacks
With the face of the
There are the artists
Ready to say
Sing me a song and
I’ll write you a story
That shows there’s
Beauty in broken
When the lifeless
Like a field of bones
Let me paint some
And we’ll breathe together

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4 responses to “For The Artists”

  1. So someone on my Facebook page linked to the Oregonian article about your blog, so I decided to read it. And, noted by the fact that I’ve read back to July, I’ve really enjoyed reading it. The further I read, the more apparent it becomes to me which particular Portland-area city you live in, which made me happy, because I went to school there. With Sarah Klatt. Weird to read a stranger’s blog and see a friend’s name. So I guess I stopped by to say I enjoy Sarah’s poetry and your blog. Bit of a small world, I’d say, except I’m not exactly sure who posted about the Oregonian article in the first place…

    • Thanks for reading along, Rochelle! Glad to have you along for the ride.

      And I’m almost certain you’re correct about our little town. 😉 Once you know the place, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint, right? We also went to school here and then, well, we stayed. It really is a great spot.

      Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment. I appreciate it!

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