This summer my daughter attended a summer arts camp for budding young artists in the area, and an open house exhibit was held last night for all of the proud parents/paparazzi. I had been hearing all month about her creations, and her paint splattered clothes were evidence that she was truly and perhaps madly inspired. She is a fashionista and likes to design her own attire, so I am not going to lie. It crossed my mind a time or two that the clothes were splattered on purpose and when I arrived, I scoped out the exhibits and backdrops for very specific colors on the spectrum that I myself had scrubbed from her wardrobe. We just threw out the fabric SPRAY PAINT here since my walls have been shaded a nice Caribbean Blue by her talented apprentice/younger brother so this suspicion was not totally out of reach.

The big piece I had been dying to see was a large chess piece sculpture created from a glass jug, paper mache, plastic plates, styrofoam balls, and of course paint. Someone drank A LOT of wine to have emptied those jugs, yet I had not even been called. I would have volunteered my services for such a worthy cause if only I’d been asked. The day she came home and described to me her theme for this series was a proud one. She envisioned a series of chess pieces created around insects. Her first inspiration was “To be… a bee” and it was not a question. A queen bee represented her personality well and would not be too difficult or time-consuming to create in the amount of studio time she had alloted. Her second idea? A spider as a king piece. Why? Because it might easily freak out her brother should she sneak it into his bedroom in the middle of the night. Her third and final vision was my favorite though admittedly would have been difficult to construct. This masterpiece was conceived around the bishop figure for her class’s game board, and when she asked me to guess what insect would represent this piece, she folded her hands together and bowed her head. A PRAYING MANTIS was to serve as the bishop. That’s MY girl!! Take a bow, Honey! You have come a long way from the little thumbprint butterflies you made for me and have left a print on my soul that is as unique and individual as your creations.

She attended classes in 3-D sculpture, 2-D sculpture, and Cartoons & Comics this summer and had art on display from all of them last night in the gymnasium. She had constructed a board game with a heavenly theme and little angel game pieces where the object was to get into the gates of Heaven. Too bad the corner broke off as she was running away with it from Brother today. The poor little devil. She sculpted a giant Tetris game piece constructed of tin foil and blue water colors that we have discovered STAIN and may induce my own “Blue Period” if I discover it on my walls next to last week’s Caribbean Blue fabric paint. My little Picasso hand painted a set of dice and a hot pink and orange set of game tiles that were displayed with her cute little age and name for all the other parents and family members to see. We took pictures of her last night in all her glory standing in front of her maze she had designed, colored and hung. We were struck by her refusal to follow suit with her deck of cards picture in that she chose to draw a princess “like her” instead of a queen and decorated all fours corners with green shamrocks for luck instead of traditional black clubs. It was a proud night for all of us as this summer has been one of change, but our little family and the pride we show has remained a constant even though we may have joined a different club in the statistics.

Today we discovered a particularly proud achievement when we arrived home after collecting all of her artwork at the school. When she set up all of her creations for us to Ooh and Aah, she discovered that her hand painted Mahjong Tiles were missing. At the bottom of her bag, in their place, was a special note tagged, “Mayor’s Choice Exhibit.” The tiles had been put aside for an exhibit to take place in November and we had to grant permission for them to be displayed. “Are you KIDDING me?!?!,” she exclaimed. “This could be my big break!! Hurry, Mom! We have to go back to the school and sign the paper!” If you know me, then you know how the scene unfolded; Hysteria, jumping up and down, running out to the car to race to the school before it closed only to discover I was wrong about the times and actually could have waited several HOURS and still made it through the open doors, blah, blah, blah. We didn’t get to actually see the tiles again, or at least we were too excited and acting like cool tortured artists when we got there to ask, so I had to flip back through the pictures I took last night to check out those tiles again. I mean, I know they were good. EVERYTHING my angel creates is good, but I couldn’t have really described them to you as my focus had been on the large, flashy, attention-grabbing Queen Bee and the Heavenly board game. How was it possible that the Mayor-worthy piece topped those? Well, it’s all about individual tastes, right? She in fact told me that the Chinese symbols she had painted on the tiles meant “Beauty” and someone had seen her beauty that was reflected in her art. There wasn’t even a huge boastful announcement in neon colors like we would have expected. It was just a plain white note in an old brown grocery bag that we didn’t find until we looked deep inside. It was hidden under all of the flashy stuff. Her Beauty will be on display for everyone to see months from now, but then it always is. This time someone just recognized it and gave her an award for it. That ancient Chinese symbol means that The Beauty Dynasty my grandmother created lives on through another generation.