Creatology – the study of creativity; a discipline approaching the creativity’s processes, techniques and forms. If scientists ever wanted a micro-environment for studying creativity, they certainly could have started at the Stafford county’s Fine Arts Festival today which featured student and teacher art and performances from over 30 schools and educational programs. I had the unexpected pleasure of attending this phenomenal event and was taken aback (in a good way) by the sheer breadth and depth of creativity borne from Stafford county. I certainly wasn’t expecting to see more than 20 types of art – glass art, paper mache, sculpture, pen & ink, water-color, acrylic, collage, mixed media, oils, mosaic, weavings, resists, installation art, clay art – from a potpourri of subjects, styles, emphasis and perspectives.
From the moment I walked through the door I realized I was IN creativity when I spied (hard to miss) the large Installation art exhibit setup in front of the entrance – inspired by the works of contemporary artists Judy Pfaff and Katerina Grosse and executed by North Stafford High School art teacher, Nadine Flood, and her students- where attendees entered a large “plastic room” painted with abstract swirls of color and walked a swirling path of sticky note “reflections”. Almost serene, the feeling I had, as I walked the path, read the reflections and listened to the musical sounds of Tibetan singing bowls. What a great idea!
The festival featured both visual as well as performance arts. Performances by local school chorus’, instrumental and percussion ensembles provided attendees with a feeling of excitement and even patriotism. One school in particular, Stafford Elementary, honored the U.S Armed Forces with a medley of songs from each branch of service such as “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” (Army), “Anchors Aweigh” (Navy), “Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder” (Air Force) and “From the Halls of Montezuma” (Marines).
One of the greatest pieces, I felt, was in a location not visited by many I suspect. At the end of a long hall , on the wall, a puzzle measuring at least 24-feet long – each small piece created by a Falmouth student – representing the truth that as individuals we may be different but when together, we’re whole.
As my day was coming to an end at the Festival I met a well-known local artisan, Cathy Herndon, who gave me the scoop on the art scene here in the Fredericksburg area. As I furiously scribbled down all she had to say about the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts (FCCAVA) , “First Fridays”, “The Art First Gallery“, the “Then and Now” invitational exhibit, and upcoming classes, I inwardly cheered, “YES, finally!” For I had searched for connections into the local art community but had no real luck up until today. Cathy’s works are actually on show now at the The Art First Gallery – along with co-artisan Johnny P. Johnson – whose show features a “water” theme.