In Her Own Words…
By Jenifer Fox
As a young girl, I was drawn to solitary places: the beach in wintertime, the uppermost branches of a tree, my closet turned into a fairy fort. I didn’t seek these places in order to be alone but rather to contemplate the meaning of life, not knowing at the time that was what I was doing. To me, there is an improbability to what may be considered ordinary and every day that continually fills me with wonder. It is this sense of wonder that propels me to engage in life. Art, to me, is the relationship between the improbable and the resulting wonder that something can and does come alive in a way that is both rule bound and totally free. To the extent that humans are involved in this paradox is what defines us as artists. When we teach children art, we are doing far more than offering an enrichment course of study. We are instead framing the world as a wonder-filled place where they can experience life as an act of creation and appreciation. Without art – without wonder – there is no avenue to meaning and life without meaning is not worth the effort. Nothing in life is ordinary. Through art, the observation of life as well as the involvement, allows a person to create a unique presence in the world.
I entered into the world of education with the belief that every person has something to say that nobody else can. It’s the guidance of teachers that bring children to the brink of understanding that they have something unique to offer the world. As Berkshire Country Day School springs into a new era, we do so with a mindfulness of the power of art to change how people view the world. Artistic appreciation and artistic creation are at the center of our philosophy on how to be good citizens and compassionate humans. Because art is an act of sharing, and community is a value that we cherish for its ability to transform our sense of self, we begin this new decade with a focus on art; art for the sake of discovering what it means to humans. Art is not an added extra in the educational experience. Art is not even just paintings, drawings, or products to adorn one’s space. Art is a way of being in the world. It is a way of sensing and appreciating the details that position us in shared spaces. Art is both personal and public and art is one of the most prominent expression of shared values in any culture throughout the world and throughout centuries. It is certainly a shared value of people who choose to live in this artistic corner of the world.
My intention for BCD is that we continue to discover ways for children to render meaning and value, not to “get ahead in life,” not for academic and economic success—those are simply byproducts of a good education. A real education is one that allows a person the inner strength to deal in a healthy way with whatever happens to them throughout their life. This takes creativity, learning from mistakes, coming up with something new, and remaining involved when things become tough or dull. Artistic appreciation and expression embody all those virtues. Art both heals and inspires. It consistently makes everything new. That’s why “The Art of Spring” is a great theme for our upcoming gala. As we look with fresh eyes on the value of a BCD education, we are able to see that given a bit of creativity, everything can appear hopeful and abundant with possibility. That’s how I view the school as a whole and each child as a contributing member of that community.