The Arts as Nourishment

By Brian Hutcheson, Director of Fine & Performing Arts

According to the Seattle weather blog, it rained 28 out of 31 days in January, tying the record set in 1953.  It was also the 7th wettest January on record.  On December 21st, the Winter Solstice, the sun set at 4:20pm and continued to set before 5pm through January 27th. There is a reason many holidays in December focus around light as we navigate the darkest time of the year, but we’re now deep into February with the joy and light of the holidays long past.  It is not uncommon to hear from many people about the struggle through these dark, short days and it brought to my mind one of my favorite children’s books by Leo Lionni, Frederick.  In this story a group of mice are collecting supplies for the winter and one mouse among them doesn’t appear to be helping.  This is Frederick.  His companions continue to ask him what he is doing while they are working so diligently to prepare.  Here are a few key snippets of their dialog:

“Frederick, why don’t you work?”  “I do work, I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days.”

“And now, Frederick?”  “I gather colors for winter is gray.”

“Are you dreaming, Frederick?”  “Oh no, I am gathering words. For the winter days are long, and we’ll run out of things to say.”

And then the winter days came.  As expected, the early parts of winter were full of good food and good conversations, but as winter endured the supplies dwindled and the conversations decreased. It was at this point the mice turned to Frederick and inquired about his supplies.  Frederick steps up and guides the mice through memories of the golden glow of the sun shining.  He paints a visual picture of the blue periwinkles, red poppies, and yellow wheat.  Finally, he weaves together words to form a poem praising the four seasons.  His fellow mice feel warmer, see the images he creates with vivid color, and ponder the magic of his words.

In the darkness of our winter days, the arts serve as nourishment.  They warm our souls and sustain us, they bring laughter and tears, and they help us navigate the complex world in which we live.  Our recent Upper School production of You Can’t Take it with You, brought many laughs, highlighted the value of community, and reminded us to take joy in the moment. The upcoming art show and music concert will showcase the work of both Middle and Upper School students involved in a visual art or music classes this trimester.  From the songs of Stevie Wonder performed by the Instrumental Music Ensemble to the folded paper sculptures of the Paper Engineering class, the work will highlight human connection, teamwork, and creative exploration.  The winter isn’t quite over so I invite you to join us on February 27th starting at 5pm to see our students perform and present their work.  Come find nourishment in the sights and sounds of our student’s artistic creations!