An Exhale of Color

The first days of autumn in Phoenix often feel more symbolic than actual.  As friends in other parts of the country start pulling out their sweaters and long pants, we’re celebrating the occasional day when temperatures dip into double digits.  Even so, there are other signs that the season is changing.  Sunflowers that have withstood summer heat are drying up and turning brown.  Plans are underway for planting our winter gardens.  A few trees are starting to show signs of changing colors and/or dropping leaves.  One sure sign of autumn at the Seed is tie-dye/tile painting day in late September.

I’ve written about this event for the past several years and have included the links below.  I’m not sure what else I could add to or say differently from what I’ve posted in the past.  The details and steps necessary for participation are posted in the office and around the school.  Tie-dye experts are plentiful, eager to offer advice.  What I’m inclined to write are just a few thoughts that summarize the significance of this event for the Seed, and for me personally.

Once we settle in to the new year we all participate in a school-wide study of nutrition.  It’s like an inhaling breath where we draw attention to what we need to sustain our physical bodies, so we can learn and experience life as fully as possible.  Tie-dye and tile painting day is more of an exhale.  It’s a day when individual expression comes to the forefront, where colorful splashes of dye or glaze let the rest of the world know who we are.

Tie-dye is not a controlled form of artistic expression.  Surprise is a built-in element.  I enjoy watching families come to the table together, some slightly anxious and others full of wild abandon, to make their marks on their shirts.  During the process I hear helpful words of advice and see techniques eagerly demonstrated.  Committed tie-dye staff keep newspapers at each work station replenished and bottles of dye filled for the next artist.  Once finished, satisfied children and parents walk away from the event with their shirts in plastic bags and rinsing directions to follow the next morning.

Over the years I’ve often joked that tie-dye shirts are our school uniforms.  It’s only partly a joke.  If anything, each one-of-a-kind tie-dye shirt is representative of the individual who made it.  We want our students to have a clear sense of self, to feel celebrated as a unique human being, and know how to use their strong, brave voices.  Any experience that will help them grow in this direction we’ll include in their time at the Seed.  One of those experiences may be a colorful shirt that comes home with you next Thursday.

For past blogs about tie-dye day at the Seed, click on these links: