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About the cover

 

D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e    March 2008



Lowe Card Wins

Local artist Ann Lowe's newest creation stokes the imagination — for therapy, creative child's play and lively adult conversations.

 

After five years of brainstorming and research, painting and fine-tuning, Silver City artist Ann Lowe is excited that she will soon have in hand a very special deck of 32 cards. Her Imagination Story Cards are a tool she hopes will find its way into classrooms, art therapy sessions, resource libraries, counseling rooms and even living rooms.

Artist Ann Lowe's paintings that became her Imagination Story Cards. (Photo by Donna Clayton Lawder)

"I developed them as a way to spark story telling, imagination, creative conversations," Lowe says. "They're useful for people of all ages and for many different purposes. They can be used as a therapy tool or a creative game for children. They can be a way to unlock the imagination for all kinds of artists, and they're a fun party game for adults because they stimulate conversation in exciting ways."

In her Silver City home and studio, Lowe holds up a huge sheet of glossy paper with a series of brightly colored rectangles with abstract images. Each is on a field of soothing blue, the abstract images highlighted in a translucent white oval, reminiscent of an egg.

"These are the proofs!" she says with a broad smile. "I can hardly believe it." She pulls out a box and opens it to reveal smooth, laminated creamy-white cards, about five inches by six. "Feel them," she invites. "This is what they'll be like. Aren't they just wonderful to touch? And soon I'll have the real thing, right in my hands."

The cards will be available for purchase by early April, she says, through her special Web site and at local stores. She will showcase them at her upcoming gallery show and studio sale May 3, which will include special events using the cards.

Lowe explains that there are a number of ways to "play" with the cards. The deck can be used by one person, small groups and, since there are 32 cards, a group of up to 32 people.

"You just shuffle the deck and lay it face down. Then the first person draws a card and describes what he or she sees. The next person draws a card and does the same," she explains. "And you just keep going until you go through all of them. You take turns telling stories by saying what you see in the cards. It's different for everybody. And there are no wrong answers."

Lowe says she plans to market the cards to art teachers, art therapists, alternative and mainstream schools, psychologists and counselors of all stripes. ToyTown in Silver City will sell them, she says, and she hopes to get into novelty toy stores and bookstores where she thinks they will be of value to parents looking to engage in creative play with their children. The cards also may have value to reading and writing teachers, as they encourage verbal communication.

She also is talking with a doctor at The Mind Institute in Albuquerque regarding using her cards in his experiments into what makes people creative.



Taken from a series of paintings she did on small boards, the images, Lowe says, are unique in their open-endedness. "I did a lot of research into cards and found a lot of realistic story cards out there — you know, with a picture of a chair, or a dog, and the child tells a story based on that object. But I didn't find anything like what I'm doing, where the images are so open-ended," she says. "That's why I call them imagination story cards, because instead of starting with a known image, the person sees whatever it is that they see and tells the story it brings out of them."

Focus groups — conducted over the past several years in local schools, special therapeutic sessions and even a dinner party or two — brought her good feedback and some exciting results, Lowe says.

"It's amazing what comes out," she says. "Some of the things people see, and the way they express themselves, well, it's just breathtaking sometimes."

Most children see pictures in the abstract images, pictures they then put into words. Sometimes adults, Lowe says, get stymied and fail to find images.

"I think they think of it like a Rorschach test," she says. "I try to get them to relax and just think of it as a tool to open the imagination. No deep, dark secrets or tendencies," she adds with a laugh. "Children are freer because they don't have our baggage."

Lowe adds that the cards can be a balancing element in all types of school settings, a welcome change of pace from memorization-based learning.

"It's an activity. There's no competitive aspect to this. No points or scorekeeping," she stresses. "There aren't any rules, so you can play with them any way you want. It's a great tool to give yourself permission to think whatever you want to think, to go somewhere in your mind. It's certainly great for kids, to help them grow up being more imaginative.

"And the imagination," she adds with a smile, "is a great place for adults to go, too." — Donna Clayton Lawder


Imagination Story Cards can be purchased for $15.95 online using Paypal at www.imaginationstorycards.com beginning in April 2008. They will be featured at Ann Lowe's gallery show and studio sale May 3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 1316 West St., 534-0005.

 



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