Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Transforming Power of Art and Nature

As an author, mother and lawyer, I am interested in how children and teenagers develop their identities within family, community and the world at large.  In my books, my characters hail from Caribbean islands, or NYC Caribbean and African-American communities. They overcome obstacles imposed upon them by poverty, censorship, government takeover of their lands, immigration issues, and crime.  They do so by developing their individual creative talents and being exposed to art and nature.
It is a widely accepted view that Art and Nature provide positive avenues for people dealing with pain and feelings of loss and loneliness.  My personal interest is how it all affects children and teens. Developing creative intelligence and exposure to beauty, whether in nature or in art, are some of the greatest gifts we can give our children to help them feel connected to something greater than their immediate surroundings. I found this great site with articles for parents and teachers on these exact topics.

In Flowers in the Sky, Nina is transported from her isolation in Washington Heights, a perplexing world to her, when she sees the gorgeous paintings of Vincent Van Gogh at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Wheat Field with Cypresses.  She grows beautiful flowers on her fire escape to bring beauty into her stark living conditions. 
In The Colors of My Words, Ana Rosa learns that writing down stories and poetry sets her free even in a country where censorship may reign and governmental oppression inflicts upon her family a great tragedy.  The beach is Ana Rosa's refuge from all the sadness and confusion around her. 
With my books, I hope to empower and inspire children and teenagers to develop their own creative/artistic/personal talents as the best antidote to a confusing, complex and sometimes tragic world.  To use the words of the eminent mythologist Joseph Campbell, my ultimate goal is “to learn to live joyfully in the sorrows of the world.” If I can show our children how to do that, too, then my life’s purpose is accomplished. 

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