While the comedic leafblower debate rages into its twenty-third year,  and all of Sonoma surrenders their personal information so they can catch a Nidorian, a group of select students are in the Sonoma Museum experiencing camp Wabi Sabi.

In the writing studio on Monday, students began by thinking about origins, and the stories contained in the objects around us. Specifically the wood they would soon use in the art studio: Where did it grow? What other purpose did it serve? What history was contained in its journey?  The idea that inanimate things in some fashion bear witness allowed campers a creative portal to story.

On Tuesday, after roughly fashioning their decks in the art studio, they redrafted them into a more polished form, applying a templated shape. In the writing studio, too, we worked on shape, and ways to purposefully design a story’s narrative flow. Circularity, the lego-ing of idea, zooming in and zooming out, funneling the narrative from greatest to least…each structure was applied to campers’ unstructured imaginations.

By Wednesday the kids were really finding their flow, and–creativity unfettered–got inventive with language. They wrote a lyric, poetic ode to a particular place, then peopled that place with oppositional tribes. We talked about how tension is essential to narrative, how opposition is the fuel that drives story forward. From character to setting to word choice to idea, oppositional pairings were the objective. In the art studio, too, opposition was key, with campers fashioning airy sculptures set atop a weighty base.

On Thursday campers moved toward finishing their decks, designing templates to use as embellishment. With the idea of positive and negative images fundamental to the lesson, they produced a wide-ranging collection of ideas: tentacled monsters, blooming flowers, felines, grafitti…each deck as unique as its creator. That idea followed them into the writing studio, as well, where they worked on ways to represent light and dark. Can a character affirm by way of denial? Can we see what something is by seeing what it’s not?

Friday, in addition to tackling a few new ideas, we’ll finish up the art projects and polish a favored piece of writing. The habit of revision is fundamental to both disciplines, and campers will be allowed time to re-draft. When we “Paddle Out” for the last exercise of the week, each student will present a piece of art from both disciplines.

They ride Bongo Boards in the plaza at lunch, they learn through doing, they are strangers on Monday and friends on Friday. Camp Wabi Sabi, surf camp in Sonoma, come see the magic happen on Wednesday when admission to the museum is free.