Lauren Beck

Allentown, PA

I lost my way and ignored art for many years. It was close to a decade that I lived without it. The Dark Ages. That may sound overly dramatic, but when I really reflect on it, I realize how much I was missing out on. I lost a bit of myself. I never lost my appreciation or respect for the craft, as I believe that’s ingrained in every human in some way – it was more that I lost my dedication to the act of doing art.

I excused myself from creating for years, ignoring any desire to pick up a tool and start to draw, to let go and be free. Getting married and starting my career and having babies and buying a house and two cars and a dog –those were my priorities, and to be distracted from these things was silly and childish. Doing art, that was not necessary. That came last. It was time to be serious and grow up.

As I allowed myself to smother this part of me, which had been such a huge piece of my identity, it became easy to forget. I’d be lying if I said the pull of art kept calling me back, as if it were some force that couldn’t be ignored. The truth is that it was simple to ignore. My new serious adult life, with my perfectly-timed schedule and family meal plan, was full and distracting. There was no room for more. How easily we can kick art to the curb when it’s not valued and lifted up.

It was until I started to notice other artists in my community sharing their art that something changed. Big organizations and small, individuals and groups, young and old — I noticed they all had something to share and were unapologetically and consistently showing up. I tuned into the art being created all around me. I began to wake up. Hadn’t I been a part of this community once? Could I do it again? Is there even a place for me? Spoiler: there was.

I found that once I began identifying again with the part of me that was pushed down and smothered, my path opened up and became clear. I was creating again. Sure, it was a struggle to ignite that flame again, and admittedly pretty scary to allow myself to be vulnerable. With work and determination, my passion for art did eventually come back in full force. It kind of took me by surprise. It could not be ignored any longer.

Something I’ve learned is that inspiration can spark action. Watching and experiencing art around you, in all forms, can grow a person’s confidence in themselves. It can allow one to think, “maybe I have something to contribute, too.” It can allow someone to find their voice.

I feel a strong pull to share my art and knowledge as an educator because I want it to be valued, respected, and passed on. I want to raise my children in a home where art supplies are constantly scattered throughout and music of all genres is spinning on the record player, because I never want them to know a life without creating, singing, dancing. By sharing my art in these ways, I’m hopefully passing that torch of inspiration, igniting another person’s desire for expression. I’ve finally found my way, and I hope to show others.