Farewell Starting Artists…

This month has been full of farewells.

Farewell to Starting Artists, my home away from home, and farewell to our Cobble Hill digs, my home away from Starting Artists. When I think about leaving even more behind: family, friends, creature comforts, it seems a daunting task. How do we properly say good-bye to the community of loved ones we’ve created so far?

How do we take the lessons we’ve learned from fostering other communities to making a new home in Latin America? These are the thoughts that are running through my head as the Salvation Army picks up  donations from SA and as movers haul away the boxes from our apartment.

There is so much history stored in these boxes. Often, I would tell my students the history of the raw materials they might be using “I got those beads when I was 8 years old,” I would tell them, “I hope you make something wonderful with them.” It’s true that I am a “Pack Rat,” a habit I will be forced to break in the Peace Corps, but I believe in objects. Not necessarily possessions, but objects that hold special meaning and represent milestones. I’m becoming more comfortable with the memory of the objects that have been important to me–passing them on to good, new homes and not necessarily needing to have them in my life physically. That’s why I love photography. Photographs are a way of capturing ethereal memories and turning them into a new object. A smaller, more manageable one at that!

Through the organizing and packing process I  rediscovered a special object. In an old jewelry box I found a gold necklace from Colombia given to me by Julia, a woman who is as close to a grandmother as I’ll ever have. She met me even before my adoptive parents. She is Colombian and her family donated one of the first buildings for my orphanage CRAN. Julia gave me this necklace the last time I saw her in 2003, not long before she passed away. Wearing it reminds me not just of Julia but also of where I came from. The little Pre-Columbian figure now hangs from my neck and rests close to my heart.

I recently attempted to create a special object. As a good-bye gift to the Starting Artists family I created a book on Blurb.com with photos from the past 3 years of programs. A preview of the cover image is above. I wish I could have packed all of the incredible memories from our last 5 years of existence into this small book. Believe me, I tried! I hope the SA family will enjoy this memento from all of the programs, special events, and adventures we’ve shared through the years. We may have said good-bye to most of the old objects but we will always have the memories (and the photographs!).