The classroom next door has a heart on it and I thought it was beautiful. I thought it added a touch of love to a functional, old blue door. So I took a picture of it, added it to my collection of hearts and posted it on Facebook. Then I heard the story.
The class next door has 10 students and 3 teachers. Some of the students don't communicate with words, some don't get around by walking, and some are emotionally dented, not wrecked, just dented. It is difficult for them to be in other classrooms. I have the privilege of seeing them Monday through Friday, whether if it's in the form of a wave, or their attendance in my art room.
I've never met the student who made the heart, but his teacher told me the story. When he came to school on the first day of February he was determined. He is non-verbal and communicates with his actions, gestures and signals. He is likely to repeat the words you say to him. He is autistic. That morning he gestured to his teacher, rather urgently, that he needed a paper, a red marker and a pair of scissors. She gave him the supplies and he went to work. He quickly created an exquisite heart. The teacher complimented him on his creative endeavor and went back to work with the rest of the class. A few minutes later she noticed he was gone. She thought this was unusual, but assumed he went out to use the bathroom. He did return promptly and when he did, she asked about the heart; who it was made for, and if he made it for someone special. But he had forgotten about the heart by then. It was time to get back to his daily routine. For a moment, the heart was forgotten.
Later in the morning the class left for brunch. When the last student left and closed the door, no one looked behind. It wasn't until they returned that they saw what happened. The heart was on the door, not the inside, but the outside. It was placed ever so carefully, centered, at eye level (his), secured with four pieces of tape. The student, in love and excited about the gifts of February, was speaking to everyone that behind this door, there was love. And the best way to communicate that was not to talk, he couldn't say how much he felt loved and wanted to share love, but with a few simple supplies, a piece of paper, a marker and a pair of scissors, he made a heart.
You see, it is true. Art is love. Love is art and life is artful, no matter how you look at it.
Dedicated to my sister who dedicated her life to teaching children who needed a little extra love.
Today, the last day of February is her birthday. She would have been 59.