The writer of this reflection blog is the Chair of the HubCulture Board, Rebecca Ramos.
It’s spring. That can mean only one thing. And I don’t mean the bees having their way with the azaleas. It’s that time of year that throws all of us at Hub-Bub into mourning. Our AIRs are exiting. Ian, Ron, Kerri, and Corinne are preparing for their next chapter in the Life of a Young Artist.
We will miss them.
People think the artists are so lucky to be selected. A free apartment, a bike, and twenty hours a week to create their art. I think it is we – the Spartanburg community – who are the lucky ones.
Every summer four strangers arrive in our little town, each brimming with creativity, passion, and the possibility of what can be. All year long, they capture pieces of Spartanburg into themselves and into their art, but more importantly, they give to us. I’m not talking about their art in the Entrance and Exit Shows or their hundreds of volunteer hours working in our community. I’m talking about something almost intangible but, seen from the distance of time, can be observed and certainly can be felt.
These artists arrive with a blank chapter (or canvas, if you prefer) and they write their story of their life in Spartanburg. We see their story manifested in their art, in their choices of volunteer work, in friendships made, in blogs written, in conversation over coffee, in a report made to the Hub-Bub Board, in a visit to a donor.
If we pay attention, we can also read in their story what kind of community we are. Are we open to new ideas? Are we kind? Receptive? Interested? Do we listen? Do we mind being uncomfortable? Do we try something different, rebellious even?
This is our fifth year with the AIRs program, and I have no doubt the passion, imagination, and creativity of four strangers change us for the better. When I see ourselves reflected in their art and words, I know we are a community that values art and the artist’s process. I see we are a community that is beginning to understand artists are not on the margins of cultural development, but are central to it.
As the AIRs write their stories, we, the Spartanburg community, are still writing our own. The ending is not known. There are thousands of empty pages waiting for our words. With intention and action, we can continue to create and support a creative community, an inspiring community, a place where imagination and difference is celebrated. Already our story has been inspired, changed, with the yearly addition of our new friends. They are like that buzzing bee with the fuzzy legs hovering over the azaleas, mixing up the pollen. And, oh, the honey is sweet.