The instructor is a talented, energetic 24 year old millennial. Zo graduated from KCAI a couple of years ago and is a poet and performance artist. Turns out, she's from my hometown (Columbia, MO) and we both went to the same high school, 20 years apart.
At the first class, we discussed the question "what is a manifesto?" And then, not surprisingly, we wrote our own. This exercise was a challenge for me. We looked at a few examples and spent a lot of time with Claes Oldenburg's "I am for an art" manifesto, which he wrote in 1961. For those of you familiar with Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum, Oldenburg is the artist who created the Shuttlecocks.
I struggled with my manifesto because I couldn't wrap my head around the the definition of the word and how it applied to me, to my life. When I hear "manifesto", I think "Ted Kaczynski." It's difficult to see yourself in such a violent, troubled man. Manifestos seems inflexible, too. Fixed and uncompromising. Zo, however, talked about a manifesto being a declaration, a personal mission or value statement, which softened it a bit and really helped guide me. I thought "What is most important to me?" And the answer is people. The people I love are the most important thing to me. Then I thought about what I value most, beyond things with heartbeats. And those things are, among others, safety, happiness, gratitude, and inspiration. So, without further ado:
MY MANIFESTO: Where I Am
I am for being a small girl sitting on my father's lap while he reads to me, my
head against his chest, his heartbeat in my ear, for this is where I am safest.
I am for painting side by side with my mother, the air sweet with linseed oil
and beeswax, for this is where I am happiest.
I am for sharing long, leisurely dinners with family and friends, with stomachaches from too much food and too much laughter, for this is where I am most grateful.
I am for sticking up for the little guy, giving food to the hungry, care to the sick, and a refuge to the weary, for this is where I am most human.
I am for making peace with the past, for this is where I am most forgiving.
I am for sipping coffee in my favorite chair, with my sleeping kitty in the crook of my arm, for this is where I am most content.
I am for the roar of the salty surf, the smell of pines, and a wild and rocky coast, for this is where I am most inspired.
I am for lying back in cool grass to ponder the stars until sleep takes us or the dawn sun rises, for this is where I am the most wonder-filled.
I love my manifesto! Obviously, I used Oldenburg's "I am for" structure but I added my own flavor. If Claes has a problem with this, he's welcome to leave a comment.