Founders Blog - " I shall create..."

Recovering from the flu, as my brain starts to get back online while my energy is still lagging, I opened some of my favorite books and started the day reading.

The very first thing I read has prompted this blog post. I found it in Art and Social Justice Education; Culture as Commons edited by Therese Quinn, John Ploof, and Lisa Hochtritt. It was here in the introduction that I found words of wisdom inspired by – and some written by – poet Gwendolyn Brooks.

“Gwendolyn Brooks reminds us that art is ‘not an old shoe,’ soft and comfortable. Often, she claims, ‘Art hurts. Art urges voyages – and it is easier to stay at home.’ But the alternative is devastating, a loss for individuals and for societies. In her poem Boy Breaking Glass, Brooks (1987) describes a child ‘Whose broken window is a cry of art’ and imagines his cry:

“I shall create! If not a note, a hole.
If not an overture, a desecration.”

Immediately I thought of our new Art Works property, the abandoned Marche Florist building at 4800 Rhode Island Avenue in Hyattsville, Maryland. I thought about all those broken windows in what was once a beautiful, functioning and life-giving greenhouse.

It’s like a sign that this site, once a vibrant florist shop bringing joy to the community, that has become a target for frustration and vandalism, will become once again a place of joy and creativity in the lives of our community.

Image of 4800 Rhode Island Ave. Hyattsville, MD
Photograph by Juliana Molina

To all the boys and girls breaking glass because you have little or no access to your creative voices –perhaps vandalizing the world around you so you can see the results of your hands on something – I am telling you there are so many beautiful ways to express yourselves and to see the results of your creative hands and minds. Enroll in an art class at school and if there isn’t one email me at because we support you in your creative expression, in ways you can’t even imagine.

Barbara Johnson,
Founder and Executive Director
Art Works Now