Something Small Worth Keeping And Growing / by Mary Jennings

A note about the author of this post. Lily DiBenigno is a rising Junior attending Washington Lee High School (Arlington, VA) She is very clear on her plans for her studies and career path in the future. She wants to be an art teacher to elementary school-aged children. I have been very impressed by Lily's earnest efforts to grow and develop her given talents through exposure to people, opportunities and experiences in a multitude of areas relating to art and creativity. It was a delight having her as part of the internship program and I look forward to more opportunities to stay connected in the future (if I can keep up!).  -mary jennings

Parallels with Propagation

Have you ever wondered if it’s worth it to grow something from the very beginning? To take something small, nurture it, and help it grow into something amazing? If so, then the concept of propagation might interest you. In this case, the main idea is taking leaves from succulents (which are so hip and trendy these days) and replanting them to grow a whole collection of big and beautiful plants. Now, as I near the end of my internship with The Studio Center and sit down to write my guest blog post requested by Mary Jennings, I’ve noticed some parallels between propagation and my internship experiences in the last few weeks.

Keeping a Bit of Italy

Over spring break I visited my family in Italy. We traveled to many little towns and big cities, all of which had beautiful plants toppling over all the buildings. Succulents and cacti were everywhere. At every stop, I picked a leaf and stashed it safely away. By the end of my trip I had more leaves than I knew what to do with. I smuggled them home to America and began the long process of propagation. It’s been a few months now and I have baby plants sprouting on every inch of my windowsill. These little guys were once part of something big and in time will become something big on their own.

Meeting Our Potential

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In April, I met Mary Jennings through the art exhibit, Artomatic. We both had our work on display with 600 other artist's during this amazing, volunteer lead 44 day exhibit in Crystal City, Virginia.  We worked shoulder-to-shoulder during our volunteer shifts and had a great time. I told her I was on the lookout for an internship, she told me she was on the lookout for interns. Thus began my journey in self-propagation, turning this new connection into an experience that I know will have lasting effects on my life and how I live it.  

One of the required tasks in this internship was to plan, prepare, market and conduct an event on my own. At first, this task seemed daunting, something completely outside my comfort zone. I had to remind myself an important part of the propagation process is letting the little leaf harden and callous over before you can successfully propagate it. I found this needed struggle during propagation to be similar to what I as going through at this moment. Sometimes a big part of life is pushing yourself and doing things you wouldn’t normally do, letting yourself get tougher through experiences like these. 

A Creative Mother/Daughter Day

Once I had figured out my initial idea, everything else followed. I knew I wanted to do something fun and exciting for kids. I love working with little munchkins, and my next thought was to include the mothers. By the day of the event, everything had come together wonderfully. 

The guided activity was called the “Music Box”. Each mother and daughter was given a small box to decorate, inside there was a folded paper that opens up to show 10 panels. A playlist of cute themed songs was meticulously chosen and as the music played, the mothers and daughters created tiny masterpieces on every panel inspired by each song. In no time, everyone had made some fun memories of time spent together and their own little box of hand created treasures.

Things were always poppin’ with Mary Jennings and I was lucky enough to gain some groundbreaking wisdom and witness her taking on the world for the short time I was with her. There was always something to do, and when we weren’t doing things we were meeting people. Each place I went I learned something new, each person I met was a new connection, each conversation I had felt significant, and all of these are now little sprouts just beginning to grow.  

If you want to start something small worth growing, reach out to Mary Jennings and stay informed of events and opportunities to learn more and be creative at The Studio Center (It's the cute little house pictured in the painting by Mary Jennings in behind us.)