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

(Wilson Harkins III)
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.

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