MY ART STORY by

Marilyn A. Kinsella

Fairview Heights
Illinois

KC fest 2013 2 telling Shapitaro.jpg

Woman on stage.

Marilyn A. Kinsella, aka Taleypo the Storyteller, at the 2013 Kansas City Storyelling Festival. Photo by Larry Kinsella

From an early age, I knew that I was an artist. My parents recognized this and made sure I tried music and visual arts. But, the light did not shine until years later, when I heard my first storytellers in 1981. It was like a beam of light came down from above and said, "This is it! Pay attention." And pay attention I did. Soon after, I went to Jonesborough, Tennessee, for my first storytelling workshop, and thus my journey began. Coming home I sat next to a stranger on an otherwise empty bus. After some conversing and, yes, storytelling, she looked at me and said, "I want you to think of your storytelling as an artist's palette. Your storytelling is one color on that palette, and you will want to work on it until it is just the right depth and hue. But, soon you will discover other colors on that palette, and, when you take those talents and mix them with your storytelling...your true artist will come through." Those words were prophetic. The more I told stories, the more those latent colors came to life: Creative Writing - plays, books, poetry, personal stories; Visual Arts - murals, storyboards, drawing; Theater - acting, drama choirs, directing, and more. When I look back, each one was inspired through story, even music: One day, while telling stories at an East St. Louis day camp, a young girl came up to me and asked, "How do you make music with your words?"

For 34 years I've called myself an artist, but it is through the grants and support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Storytelling Network, and the Illinois Arts Council that allow me to be an artist. By recognizing storytelling as its own unique art form, storytellers are able to bring storytelling to the underserved in inner cities and rural areas; to bring storytelling to the public through festivals, workshops, and concerts; and most importantly to bring storytelling to schools through residencies, literacy workshops, assemblies, and after-school programs. Once children hear a story told, they make a heart-to-art connection. The retelling of that story comes to life through creative dramatics, murals, music, and dance. As a bonus, storytelling provides the first step into literacy. Thanks to you, we storytellers are able to shine the light of story for the next generation of artists.

Marilyn A. Kinsella
Taleypo the Storyteller
Fairview Heights, IL