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Why Art Matters, Even in Poverty


Why Art Matters, Even in Poverty

Alison Stine

In the toy aisle, which is inconveniently next to the bread aisle, I tell my 5-year-old son we are not getting a truck today. I tell him we buy what we need, and not more. I tell him I have enough money for food, but nothing else. I tell him I don’t buy treats for myself.

“You buy art supplies,” my son says. And I’m stumped.

"What is living in poverty if not constantly being creative?"

Because of course he’s right.


Touché Mama Stein! Just one thought - Appalacian recycling can become highly personal cords of 'found object' assemblage sculpture. That splintery porch sound like there's potential for some serious fun installation art!


Moving piece, Ms. Stine. Good reminder, too. Keep on keepin' on!


Although not in Appalachia, I was an impoverished single mother, too. So I know a lot about the kinds of creativity and ingenuity that unintended path calls for!

These are lovely sentiments, Ms. Stine:

"What is living in poverty if not constantly being creative?"

"When I feel like I have nothing, I can give my son the gift of creativity, the gift of imagination, the gift of spending a happy hour painting cardboard on the porch."

I never had more than $100 to my name and sometimes it was inordinately difficult if rent and utilities came due at once. But I also noticed that so long as I had an attitude of being WILLING to give, that opportunities presented themselves literally in the nick of time.

Sometimes my phone would not be working and I'd run into someone who wanted me to do a job. The synchronicity proved amazing to the point of miraculous.

I couldn't get my car fixed when the transmission was going so I tried to park it ONLY where I could exit without having to go into reverse. One time someone managed to park in front of me--blocking a driveway--and by the grace of God, on several tries (each time the car inching closer to the offending vehicle!), it managed to go in reverse to get me out of that squeeze.

At other times the car just wouldn't start up. I took a metal stick from the baby crib, opened the hood, and from time to time used that stick to get a spark going that WOULD start the car. I laughed and told the kids it was my magic wand.

People that have a lot usually have little appreciation; and those who have little are forced to see the blessings in what they DO have.

I think those were the most spiritually gratifying years of my life because I was so attuned to the WAY that Spirit answered when needs arose.

Depending on attitude, there can be beauty in just about any situation... if one knows how to seek and find it.

When I moved to Key West with my 2 daughters, we lived in old navy housing (turned over to private owners) that had such lousy flooring that if I wore high heels, they'd pierce the shoddy floors.

I used to tease my daughters that when God ran out of gifts, he gave money; and that while they had little of that, they had looks and intelligence which money could never buy.


Art for our sake


Art saves lives. My wife is a painter.

Poetry saves lives too.

Art communicates best when it is rooted in the nitty-gritty of life.


People who create art are the wealthy ones. Many people sell their souls to make themselves rich and do what with the money but buy art and view art and listen to music. They have it all except that one essential extra in a human life... The ability to create something beautiful. They envy the artist's creativity. They are jealous that the artist sees more deeply many things that they would walk by and never notice. They know that they don't have what you have given your son. A much bigger and richer world where having money doesn't help (okay it buys more art supplies but it doesn't know how to use them). A simple pencil in the hands of an artist can create a masterpiece. Your family is rich but just not with money.

BTW... Picasso and Georges Braque shared an apartment when they were creating cubism. They were so poor that they had only one winter coat and so they would go outside on alternate days but never together...lol. Their art is worth millions. Those 'bums without a peso to their names'...lol.