Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Expanding Horizons

From 2002 until the spring of 2004, Joanne and I were living in Nova Scotia so that I could create another art peace for me national art project entitled “Canada: Glorious To Be” -

The artwork for this project was nearing completion so I decided that it was time to find a place within the community of Wolfville to donate it to. In both Manitoba and British Columbia the artworks for this project were donated to the local elementary school so I thought that this would be a good place to start, here in Wolfville.

I walked into the school and soon I was speaking with the principal. He was truly amazed by the scope of this project and he was delighted to accept my donation of this artwork. However, this story is not about this artwork…

The principal then began telling me stories about some of the activities that the school had organized that were designed to educate and inspire the students to realize that the world is in need of our help. He then told me about another such workshop that was to take place in about a week’s time. The school workshop was called ‘Expanding Horizons’ and it was designed to give the students a variety of influences by people from the community who are working towards social, environmental and political justice. I was inspired!

There were to be close to thirty guests at the school on this day. Each guest was given a classroom to use for the entire day. Each room was filled with one class of students for one class period. After one period was finished the students would go to another class for a different workshop. This meant that each guest would be visited by about five classes by the end of the day.

The principal of the Wolfville School told me that one of the guests had just cancelled, right before I walked into the school, and he asked me if I would like to fill this vacant spot. Of course, I accepted!

Now, to this point in time I had gained only a little experience of teaching and organizing workshops for students, so I was a little nervous. This new challenge was forcing me to plan an art event that close to 120 students would participate in. My mind began to churn with ideas. Do I structure a class around an art event that would be completed by each class, resulting in five finished art creations? That seemed like a rather daunting task and I had a hard time pinning down any solid ideas.

A few days later I had a plan.

I designed an art project that all of these classes could participate in, ending with one painting. Each class would add their bits to this painting and by the end of the day all 120 students would have worked towards the completion of one grand design.

The finished painting would be an image of the Earth, moon and sun. The students would add their little bit to just one area of the painting. Now, what was ‘their little bit’ to be?

I began each class, not with a lesson, but with a question period, so that the students would not just be sitting in their chairs listening to me rattle on about environmental and social issues. Instead, I got them to tell me what they knew about issues concerning clean water and air, war, poverty, expanding deserts, disappearing forests, etc. After this portion of the class was finished, I asked them to tell me what they thought should be done about these issues. Soon, the conversations turned towards the topic of ‘World Peace’.

In turn, I had the students raise their hands if they could think of just one sentence that began, “Peace means…” Once the students had created their sentence I had them come to the front of the class – where the artwork was taped to a chalkboard – to print their sentence onto the art. If they wanted to print their sentence in the ocean part of the design, they would use a blue marker. If the student wanted to print their sentence in the sun part of the design, they would use a yellow marker.

The day went well and the artwork progressed rapidly. Near the end of the day a group of student volunteers visited each participating workshop class to present each speaker with a few small gifts to show the schools appreciation. I was surprised and delighted!!

I realized that my particular art creation would not be finished at the school by the end of the day. Yes, all the ‘peace’ sentences were printed throughout the artwork but there was a lot of white space surrounding these words that needed to be filled in. I took the artwork home with me, for three days, to complete the last stage of the plan. Simply, I used a very small paintbrush to fill in and around the student’s words using colourful inks.

I returned to the school, with the finished artwork and the principal was very pleased. It was sent to the framers that day and a few days later it was hanging in the entrance hallway of the school.

Here are a few of the other sentences that are now a part of this creation…

Peace to me is a world full of cooperation
Peace is a world where there is a cure to all illness
Peace is a world full of fun
Peace to me means no fighting
Peace to me means no racism
Peace to me is when everybody shares
Peace to me means for everybody to have no need to think about violence
Peace would be no hunger
Peace is being OK with other people’s opinions
Peace is awesome!
Peace is respect, love and honesty
Peace is no more pollution
Peace is a world without doubt
Peace is where everyone has an equal chance to succeed
Peace to me is a world with resources available to everyone
Peace is a world with more of Jim’s peace Stik-ers
Peace is a world without war, poverty and greed
Peace is a world where you can live in happiness
Peace is when no one lies to no one
Peace comes when fear is gone
Peace is a world with no homework
Peace is the uniting of all global societies
Peace to me is to have freedom
Peace is a world with trust
Peace is enjoying life
Peace rocks!!!

‘Nuf Said!!!!


1 comment:

tamm0449 said...

I admire your work with the students and you picked a wonderful subject for the children to work with. You made them think about what they were going to write and what they were going to paint. Thank you for opening their minds up to something so creative. The end picture is remarkable.
Thank you for encouraging the students to look into themselves for the meaning of peace. It was a wonderful theme.
Tamara Lesley (Tamm)