Photo by Dan Wensley of Visual CMG
Stroll through any retail establishment selling art supplies or books, and you will see them—adult coloring books. Marketed towards older teenagers, grandparents, and everyone in between, they are taking the world by storm. In the beginning, it was easy to dismiss them as a fad that would disappear in a few years. However, as they increase in popularity, community events are starting all over the country where adults can meet, color, and explore their creativity. They have become a way to bridge the thriving arts community and those of us who are still searching for an artistic medium in which we can express ourselves.
Last summer, Tucson artist Linda Cato visited Roanoke and provided a hand drawn 16-foot mural for the public to color at 16 West Marketplace. Seventy people participated, and completed the gorgeous and unique piece in three hours. It was on display in 16 West Marketplace for about three months.
It wasn’t Linda’s first experience with this type of event. In addition to being an artist, Linda is also an educator. She believes in the power of creativity to ignite positive change on personal, community, and global levels. Her passion for using the visual arts as a tool for change-making helps her students and people from around the world reflect upon and put forth solutions to issues that face us all.
Creating murals for her students and people in the community to color not only taps into that passion, it also helps strengthen the ties between those participating. In 2011, a few weeks after Gabby Giffords was shot in Tuscon, Linda was asked to do a healing art event for kids at the site.
“I asked the kids to draw with black and white sharpies on the theme of healing and nonviolence. We cut up all of the drawings and out of that we made a composition so every child’s work was represented in a mural,” she explains. “It was a wonderful example of how a community could come together after a tragic event and use this platform. It is just as relevant with adults. You just have to ask yourself what you want to say about your community, facilitate the work, and then you come away with a piece of work that is a testament of what you are holding in your heart.”
So often, as adults, we do not have the confidence to attempt to express ourselves through art. However, a desire to do that dates back to the days when humanity told their stories through pictures on the walls of caves. It exists, albeit more subtly, today in clothes we make or alter for ourselves, our gardens, and DIY gifts we give one another. Coloring takes that desire, makes it accessible to everyone, and allows for an expansion on that creative process.
“Coloring is a way for people to connect and make something beautiful,” says Linda. “I think, on a group scale, it is really powerful. When we can connect with people in quiet ways and look towards the goal of making something beautiful together, we can begin to work towards healing and strength as a community.”
Come learn more about community coloring events and Linda Cato at Bella’s Lunch & Learn on July 19. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP and receive more information.
For more information on Linda’s collaborative coloring work please visit silverseaspr.com/content/coloring and to keep up with Linda’s projects please “like” her Facebook page, facebook.com/lindacatocoloring.