The Washington Post Magazine: First Things First Washington Post Magazine
First Person SingularWhatever Happened ToEditor's QueryTrend ReportCloser InspectionDate Lab

Editor's Query: Tell us about a time when an artistic endeavor led to an unpredictable result

(Wilson Harkins III)

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
Sunday, April 18, 2010

While my daughter, Devon, was in middle school, I started feeling sad that my little girl was growing up so fast, and I wanted to find a unique way to remind her that I loved her. I remembered that we used to do art projects together, cutting out pictures from magazines to make collages. So, I decided to surprise her every weekday by creating a collage small enough to fit into her lunchbox.

I used found objects such as bottle caps, buttons, glitter and images and sayings from old calendars and magazines.

Devon's lunch buddies loved my art, and I showed the collages to some close friends, who encouraged me to share them with the public. Their reaction to my work surprised me. I had never considered myself an artist, and I wasn't even the crafty type.

I had visited Artomatic, the annual arts D.C. festival, in 2008 and recalled the exhibits by established artists and newcomers. So, I decided to give it a shot last summer and set up my own booth. The response was overwhelming. I sold my first major work at Artomatic and have received more commissions.

What started out as personal messages to my daughter has become a life-changing endeavor for me. I stopped putting the collages in Devon's lunchbox when she became a teenager -- messages from Mom aren't so cool in the high school cafeteria. But my gifts to her have also become a gift to me: I can now call myself an artist.

-- Lisa Harkins, Arlington


Tell us about a time when the answer you were looking for was right in front of you all along.

If you have a 100 percent true story taken from your own experience concerning the above query, send it to or The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company

Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity