Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hidden Muse

Wall art by Chase Toboni
If you’re in need of inspiration clean out a closet. Recently we installed carpeting in our house and that meant clearing the floor in our closets. Years ago, one wall we never had the heart to paint over was in my son’s room. Chase, at age four, had a passion for scribbling, and we decided to give him the inside of a closet wall for his doodles. While he doodled he seemed to be at peace.      

Chase has a mild form of autism and repetitious activities are the norm. Coloring seemed something he could do. Rainbows, in particular, appealed to him. He drew them religiously, and who could not be pleased when viewing a child’s rendition of a rainbow? Birthdays, holidays, and gifts for no other seeming reason than to announce to the world that he was among us. What a simple thing to give someone, an upside-down smile of happiness.

Years later, in high school, a teacher suggested he join a ceramics class. Chase seemed to have an interest in art, and his teacher had caught on. Art calmed him down. It was one way he could be included in a normal classroom. He seemed to enjoy clay and he produced these ornamental objects. They may look a bit ungainly but they are expressions of the soul, just like any creation.

I proudly displayed these objects for a time, but later wrapped them in newspaper and stashed them away in a paper bag marked Chase’s sculptures. These few forays into the art world also produced a brown mask-like sculpture of me, which I put outside in a planter box, but it later broke. According to my son, it was me in the morning, my hair all scraggly coming out the sides of my face like short ribbons of mud. He called the piece, “Mom’s Hair.” Good subject, bad look for me. That’s how it ended up outside. Wish I had stashed it in the closet too for safe-keeping.   

Chase in 10th grade with his ceramic pieces.