Anne Civitano and I went to the Delta Arts Center Friday night to see the Biggers exhibit and Nathan Ross Freeman's Authoring Action. I go to see Nathan's teenage authors whenever I can and always marvel at their high level of performance.
Friday night was a bit different. 4 authors who had chosen one of the paintings to study, and then written lyrical essays or poetry that applied what they found there to their own lives in contemporary society.
Each performer began by saying, "I AM . . ., in a voice that resonated throughout the gallery. We in the audience were so stunned by the passion in the first girl's piece that we didn't know whether to applaud. But with each performer the applause grew longer and louder.
We heard some great ideas, some great phrases, but what Anne and I talked about on our way home were the "I AMs." We think of the teenage years as a troubled search for identity—wanting to fit in, trying to find where we belong. And we had just seen and heard 4 young people who knew who they were, who believed in themselves and in what they had to say. Believed in their right to be and to say. Believed passionately.