CWB – USA artist Brendon Gawel writes about how love flows in both directions, and can look like clowns performing for kids, and kids cheering on a car full of clowns.
Today we perform in a refugee camp near the Palestinian border. When we arrive, there are a few children in the streets and we ask them for directions to the performance spot. The kids happily show us the way by running alongside the car. After the show, we keep playing—it’s all impromptu games, dancing, and general silliness. Eventually we have to go, but even as we pack up, the kids still want to play. They run next to us while we slowly drive down the narrow road to the camp exit, laughing, making silly faces, and saying goodbye by waving and imitating the show. It’s an incredible send-off.
It’s hard to explain the work we do. People who are not experiencing crisis can understand the immediate need for food, shelter and medicine. But in the U.S., we don’t put much value in art, joy, and play…those aren’t typical “American” values, even though they contribute to our emotional wellbeing. No doubt, our physical wellbeing must be cared for first. But then what? That’s where clowns can come in.
Our partner organization, Clown Me In, has a motto: “Send me where love is needed.” And that’s what clowns are able to do. We can have an effect on an emotional level, and share emotional wellbeing with our audience. If we jump up and down, sing, dance, and play, maybe other people will feel ready to do the same. Just as often, that love flows back at us, and it looks like a group of kids who’re ready to cheer on a car full of clowns.