“The mustaches did it!”, said Emma. The mystery emerged from a cartoon mural created by 4 young artists, Alexis, Kiera, Emma, and Phuong.

In creating a 3 week summer school enrichment program in Burnaby, Canada with my pre-teens, (year 4-7) I left the young artist to their own devices and what astonishing kaleidoscope of characters, puppets, stage set, back drops and story lines emerged.

Showcasing murals in the hallway piques the curiosity of the students, with a special visit from Owen, a grade two student determined to join the class next year. Taking their muses, the young actors and actresses performed in character for the Primary students.

In prior years, the students have become scientists and designers, planning their survival structures, building scale models and then with an assemblage of recycled cardboard, fabric, wooden twigs, poles, tapes, string, ropes, paper, and plastics: behold full size yurts, tents, lean-tos and tippees are erected.

As an artist and educator, reflection during and after implementing program is foundational to my practice. Doing and discovery prior and in situ, as I create an idea and run with it, engages students in meaning making, and co-creating of the workshops. In doing so I become the electrician with a concept and layout for conduits, organizing hubs in our studio space where students feel comfortable, choice of raw materials are supplied, and with a the spark, the creative juices flow, the imaginations pulse, alight with glow moments. As the adult facilitator remaining open to the creative unfolding and marveling at the multiple responses I too glow.

Glow moments connect us to a higher state of mind, alive in the moment within the creative process, beyond the deadline to the expressive task at hand, whether working as a team or individually. The energy sustains as I get lost in mentoring child artists and my own studio practice.

Allowing the child in us to make mistakes and find the solution within, to get messy and be content with the creative process, to see there are a number of plausible solutions, to not judge our work before breathing life into it, champions our the expression of our talents and voices.

If our future citizens are able to play with ideas, to look to a variety of outcomes and be able to embrace uncertainty, then they are empowered to respond to the myriad of choices they will face globally and locally, with an Earth that will shapeshift.

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Karen J Myskiw is an artist, designer and educator whose practice spans the disciplines of visual art–painting and photography; landscape and garden design; and mentoring children and youth through innovative creative practices.  As a foodie, her passion lies in healthy local eating, and finds expression in tasty delights. She is one of the Founding members of Artists Rendering Tales Collective Inc, is a Board Member of IMAPON, and is Principal of JardinsDESIGNS.

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