Sara Bywaters-Baldwin is a local artist in Culpeper, VA with a big vision. Over the past 20 years, her art has evolved as well as her desire to share it with others. Sara is married with two little girls and a supportive family. A visionary who loves the Bible and everything in it, she is drawn to things that are characteristically healing. She finds inspiration everywhere and enjoys finding quiet moments to create. Painting is her favorite medium because of the rich colors and elements of surprise, but she also loves mixed media for the way it helps make connections and create new directions.
"I find life to be a lot like art: a process that cultivates insight and encourages flexibility and growth."
Sara's artwork can be purchased in her Etsy shop here, and she is currently developing Willow Circle Art: Art Speaks, a platform for using art in groups to express, communicate, connect and heal. "There will be options for group work and facilitation through business, teams, family, adult and child art," that will "take form in workshops, retreats and camps." Pricing options will be offered based on the plan and partnerships with local organizations like Culpeper Baptist Church where she works as part of the pastoral staff.
"I'm a firm believer that our personal art speaks if we listen. When we create, our bodies produce something material that is informed and authentic to us. When that work in progress or finished work is before us, it becomes a third party that we can relate with and communicate with in ways that make sense to us personally and can change the way we relate to the world around us. Sometimes it's even just in the process of expressing that we learn something that frees us or helps make room for new growth in our lives. I love working beside others, facilitating and seeing this happen for people."
Sara's Faith in God and belief that change is possible inspired her to begin this journey with the "Art Speaks," aspect of her business. "I love the connection between creativity and spirit. Transformation is something you can actively participate in through art making of all kinds. Facilitation allows someone to be with you and witness the process of art becoming a guide. Creativity is a skill you can always take with you and a teacher that will always be present if you make room to listen to your inner self." She believes group settings are so important because they answer a real need for belonging and contributing in our culture.
"We spend a lot of time at work, volunteering, raising families, etc. Why not have the best experience in those groups by growing and changing together? It's a great feeling."
Over the past 10 years, Sara has facilitated art circles in both Canada and the US, working with non profits, churches, specialized groups, families, adults, teens and children. She has several wonderful partners that help when a project calls for more resources. "Our most recent pilot was with SAFE, Culpeper Baptist Church and Amanda Findley, LCSW which was a powerful experience for survivors of Domestic Violence. We focused on mask making. The project "Changing the Face of Domestic Violence" continues in a neighboring county this Spring due to the successful encounter of communicating with self, group and community beyond words. It's the small ripples that create waves of transformation through our lived experience."
So why Willow Circle Art? Sara explains, "A circle is connected and when it is 3 dimensional it can hold things. There is an element of unity and togetherness. The willow is a tree of strength, fertility, metaphorical spirituality and healing. It's historically known for it's bark that was used medicinally, it's fresh twigs that are soaked to release growth hormone as a rooting system for new plants, and it's ability to thrive in challenging conditions. Willow Circle Art combines all of these elements when people who support one another come together through the medium of creativity to increase flexibility and growth in their lives. It's a beautiful thing to witness!"
As for the future: "I do see it growing. There are so many talented artists out there that I would love to train as facilitators within their own particular medium. I don't think any community can have too much art. Creative people have always known they feel better after making art or crafts, but there is a stigma around the idea that we have to be good at it or really skilled - which keeps a lot of people from exercising something that is a key part of problem solving and being flexible to change in life. I see Willow Circle Art embracing the need to be with people and grow in resilience right we are by using creativity as a tool to communicate with ourselves and others by finding personal meaning in what is created. There needs to be an avenue where we break through the need to be perfect, listen to the hearts of ourselves and neighbors, and benefit from the very act of seeing things in a new way. I would love to have many avenues for people of all ages to find meaning and voice through the art they create with others."
Want to learn more? Contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org