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.


Laura McHale Holand said...

I love that you saved Chase's artwork, especially the wall drawings. You eloquently captured a sweet moment of rediscovery.

patsyann@sonic.net said...

Thank you for sharing this special post. One of your best, I think. And I love the photos.

barb bits said...

Thanks, Laura: I started out this blog idea by taking a picture of his sculptures and then I was going to give them back to him if he wanted them, or toss them, but as you can see I couldn't part with them.

barb bits said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Patsy!

barb bits said...

In an email from my Aunt Annie:

Dear Barbara: I loved your recent blog about Chase! love all your blogs, but that one touched me. I know you will enjoy your retirement and I wish you and your wonderful family the very best.
Love and hugs from your Aunt Annie!!!

My reply:
Thanks, Aunt Annie: I love that you're one of my readers, and you were touched by this piece. Your thoughts on my writing mean a lot to me. Love you too. B.

barb bits said...

From Marilyn's email

You did a wonderful and touching job on your latest about the rainbows on the closet wall. Thanks for sharing this and photo of your son and his ceramic creations. Having worked in clay in the past I can agree that it is a good way to express oneself....and is therapeutic as well. Your style is so fluid and positive when you write about your family. Nice work.

My reply:
Thanks, Marilyn, for your very kind words. I do enjoy writing about my family so I'm glad it shows.