Art School Teacher: Composition Lesson First

When I give them each a pile of coins, 
some of the students immediately start arranging, 
others sit waiting for directions.  
I wish I could be more patient and just sit quietly, 
waiting to see what they will do.  
But I quickly grow uncomfortable 
with their discomfort of my discomfort 
and say, yes! arrange them.  

It is Twyla Tharp's suggestion in her book 
The Creative Habit on which the class is based.  
I chime the bell and we stand 
and walk, witnessing all the arrangements.  
I put a pile of stones by each paper 
and chime the bell again 
and we all sit in new places, repeating, 
with rubber bands, then pushpins.  

It is quiet, everyone focused on arranging.  
Afterward, some report arranging with a story in mind.  
Others used the objects to paint a picture or to make patterns.  
The girl in the red flapper hat 
who confessed to being a perfectionist 
says it made her feel like a kid again.  
Here we are all equals.  
All arrangements are non-perfect.
All arrangements are interesting.  

Could that be why kids are so thrilled playing in the sand?
Is there a human instinct more basic than the desire to arrange?  
What more is any art, than arrangement?

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