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Light Up the World

December 3, 2019

Local workshops

On Saturday morning I arrived at the library in my town with a car full of materials to make lanterns. Basket reeds, telephone wire, tiny LED lights, industrial size coffee filters, white glue, blow dryers, brushes and containers to hold the water downed glue. I learned how to make lanterns from artist Gowri Savoor while attending the 2017 New Hampshire state arts education conference. I am forever grateful to Julianne Gadoury, New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Education Program Director invited Catherine Ring and myself to attend.

Since that conference Lindsay Pinchbeck, founder and director of Sweet Tree Arts Center in Hope, and I have offered the lantern making workshop several times at the local and state level to all ages and backgrounds of people. This is the type of art making that is inviting to all.

When we’ve provided the workshop it exemplifies the essence of small communities in Maine. Whether it’s at the library, community center, a community event, or an arts focused facility people find joy and success making lanterns.

Kate Smith is involved in the South Berwick Lanternfest that takes place each August. This past summer she helped lead music making with a drum circle and at the end they release the lanterns down the river to honor those who have gone before.  All ages come together for an amazing day. Whether it is small or large communities art making has the power to bring communities together.

The two hour lantern making workshop is enough time to make at least one lantern (two people made 3 in the time allotted) and dry it enough to carry home. The next day the tree lighting on the town common was a chance to lead the processional with Santa following in a town fire truck. Two people returned with their lanterns decorated. I wondered if everyone would return and sure enough my heart was warmed seeing everyone with their lanterns lit waiting at the designated spot.

My takeaways:

  • The arts bring people together in a non-judgmental way and everyone feels good.
  • All ages need and want community based chances to come together.
  • People naturally work across generations to help each other.
  • Many adults don’t make art everyday but jump at the chance to do so and love it.
  • Adults are looking for opportunities to do something engaging side-by-side with children.
  • Having a follow-up chance to use the lanterns collectively is like the glue that is needed in communities.

What I’m curious about is this – what have you noticed or been involved with that includes the arts to bring people together beyond the school – in the community? Please feel free to share in the comment section below. Thanks!

One comment

  1. Love those lanterns! sorry to miss the walk it looked magical.
    What brings community together Stories and Lanterns! Sadness and joy!



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