For the girls in Nigeria…
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
A few months ago, Kathy Halton, our Studio Art teacher met with me to discuss a project that she was working on with her students. It engaged each girl in the process of determining a social cause about which she was passionate and representing her cause visually, using clay as her medium. As the girls began to define their topics, Kathy wondered whether I might have some concerns about the ultimate display of these sculptures because the subjects being shaped into art objects were difficult and potentially disturbing. Of course, we, ultimately, decided that these explorations in thought sculpted into art would have the potential to make us realize truth in most provocative ways.
And so, the girls went to work…
This past week, I was invited to that studio II/III class to listen to our artists describe the results of their work --- in process and in completion, in individual struggle and in group support. The most striking strand that ran throughout their presentations, for me, was the unanimous sentiment that each girl’s work could not have been accomplished without the input of everyone in the class. In fact, as each student articulately described the form and content of her sculpture, the encouragement and support from her peers were palpable, creating a full understanding of the artistic process --- the profound truths identified in the specific cause/social issue she had chosen to illuminate through her creation. All in the group seemed to have a complete and empathic comprehension of each artist’s vision as well as a deep desire to ensure that she, ultimately, was successful in sharing it in her object d’arte.
So, here they are --- the thoughts and the sculptures --- providing a platform for the issues about which our girls are concerned and raising awareness in us all --- to help us realize truth and, in so doing, shape a consciousness that might help to eradicate some of the problems that they identified. (Words in italics are the student-artists’ thoughts.) If you would like to hear from the students themselves please click here.
A pink bow, a chain, a bar code, and a cigar box, illuminating women’s rights, the treatment of women globally, and sex trafficking.
A Paper clip as an entry to a self-harming addiction. It affects too many people, and it can’t stay hidden in the shadows forever…
A shell and a deer antler, surrounded by a mirror as a way of exploring our desire to achieve perfection, whether in looks, performance in school, or in relationships… and knowing, in contrast, that we should love our imperfections because they define our unique and essential differences.
A large red hand holding a delicate baby shoe, surrounded by a broken glass-studded clock as a disconcerting image that represents child abuse and its effects over a life-time.
A little squirrel that symbolizes determination and will in the face of life’s constant, and occasionally overwhelming, challenges. Sometimes it feels too small to ride the ride, but that won’t stop him from trying again and again.
A severed heart containing two wedding rings and a ribbon, depicting marriage, divorce and its effects on children
A stack of coins, some taller than others, sitting on encyclopedias – with human figures reaching toward suspended coins, symbolically allowing only the economically privileged students to attain an education --- portraying the distinct feeling of hopelessness and despair when one’s goals feel completely unattainable… and widening an educational gap that is a catastrophe in our world.
A coiled empty basket of layered clay, representing adoption. The fragility of the fired clay echoes the delicate, emotional side of adoption, and the heavy weight of the clay connotes the harsh reality and the metaphorical weight of the issue.
We often turn to art not only to provide perspective, but also to help us heal and give us solace when events seem to surpass our ability to comprehend them. While listening to our girls’ explanations of their sculptures, I was really moved by their astute, critical thinking about such perplexing issues. I hope that you are as touched by their wisdom as I was --- their art, in many ways, is a call to action for us all.
All good wishes for a lovely weekend,