Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Peacebus – Window Decorations

Since the beginning of this school year, I have been delighted by the overwhelming response by my elementary students to create ‘peace-art’ for the school bus.

During the first few weeks I was giving each student one of my peace Stik-ers for each peace of artwork handed in to me.

I quickly learned that the students loved these art activities so I decided to create an art competition – to motivate them even more. I had made special T-shirts to give away as prizes for this competition.

I was amazed when – the day after the competition was over – a student handed in another peace of art for the bus. I asked her if she knew that the competition was over and all the winners had already received their prizes. Yup! She knew. She just wanted to create some more art anyway. I was delighted and gave her another peace Stik-er!!!

You see – that’s what I’ve unintentionally done – I’ve created a busload of artists that just don’t know how to stop!!!! LOL! I think it’s great!

So – here’s my problem… I was having a most difficult time keeping up with the amount of artwork that was being handed in. Every time a student hands in a peace of artwork I become busy preparing it for display on the bus. It’s not a very difficult task, but it does take a bit of time – and with all the other activities going on in my life (buying a house, moving, walking for cancer research, walking for world peace, performing at talent shows, etc, etc) I was slowly falling behind.

To prepare a peace of artwork for the bus I first have to scan the image onto my computer. Then the image has to be resized, resolutions changed, colours enhanced and borders added with the name of the student, grade and the date. When four images have been done like this, I then have to lay them out onto a regular sized sheet of paper before I head down to a local printing shop. There, I print the page before I cut each image out individually. Then I place the four images into a laminating machine and then I have to cut them into individual images again. FINALLY – they are now ready for the Peacebus!!!

Since I was so far behind in preparing their artworks for the bus, I came up with an idea that would allow the students to continue to be creative without involving so much of my time.

I decided to create another competition, asking the students to create ‘window art’ for the bus. When a student handed something in, all I had to do was tape it to the window - - - no scanning, layouts, printing, or cutting - - - just place and tape!!! Easy!

I had suggested to the students that they could cut out a peace symbol (on paper) and simply colour it in. I quickly realized that this might be very challenging for them – especially the very young students – cutting out the four small shapes within the symbol. Then one of the students showed me her artwork and I found the solution. Mikayla had simply cut out of a piece of paper into the shape of a heart. She had drawn the peace symbol within the heart and coloured in the remaining spaces with colourful lines and stars.

Not only had Mikayla created a wonderful peace of artwork… she had created two! On the reverse of her main design she had filled the back of the heart shape with thoughts concerning our world. On the left side of the heart she had drawn a car with pollution coming out of its tailpipe as it drives past a garbage dump. On the right side she drew our world without pollution with children riding their bikes in a peaceful park filled with sunshine.

I held up her artwork to show the entire bus. I praised Mikayla for being so creative – for finding a better solution than the one I had presented to the students. I suggested that the rest of the students should be inspired by her art, pointing out how much easier it would be to create their art using this format. Soon, the artwork started flowing in!!!

Since this was an art competition, I knew that I had to create some kind of prize for them. I wanted to create something that I could give to every student who participated. I always like to tell my students, “Since I could not decide who’s artwork is the best – cuz it’s all so wonderful – I’ve decided to give every student who participated a prize!” This statement is always met with a thunderous applause of approval by all the students.

Instead of using some of my artwork to create a prize, I decided that I would use Mikayla’s art to create a colourful poster – highlighting her imagination and design skills. I knew that this would make Mikayla feel extra super special… and I was right!!!! I was inspired by the song “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” but I changed it a little to create the saying “Put A Little Peace In Your Heart”.

Even with all of this excitement, not all of the students participated – but that didn’t bother me at all. I still wanted them to be included in this event, so I also made some stickers – copying the poster design – to give to every single student on the bus. That made everyone very happy!!!

All of the artwork that was handed in to me was very wonderful. I could really see a great effort and love for art from all of these participants. One student really blew me away when she handed in a ‘stained-glass-window’ design.

Danielle handed in this peace symbol, all cut out with a real funky outside edge that flowed like the waves upon the sea, and a sheet of yellow tissue paper glued onto it. The inside of the peace symbol is filled with colurful words spelling ‘peace’ and ‘love’, stars, suns, happy faces with silly smiles.

When you are sitting inside the bus and the sun is shining through the window you can see this yellow tissue paper glowing as the bus is filled with this bright colour.

I took a picture of Chelsea’s very creative art before I put it on the bus – to make it a bit easier for all of us to see. Chelsea told me that it took her almost three hours to create this design, and you can see the obvious dedication. She explained to me exactly how this art was to be put on the windows, “Mr. Jim, the word ‘No’ is supposed to be on the top window, surrounded by all the negative things in our world. The word ‘Yes’ should be put on the window below it, with all the positive peace messages around it.” I put her artwork on the windows just as she instructed me to. It looks fantastic!!! Surrounding the word ‘No’ are peace symbols with phrases like “No eating at McDonalds”, “No war”, “No cutting down trees” and “No violence”. Surrounding the word ‘Yes’ are peace symbols with phrases like “Use less electricity”, “Recycle” and “Plant more trees”.

The other reason why I wanted to create window art for the bus was because unless you were a passenger on the bus, you would not know that my bus is The Peacebus. As I’ve mentioned, all the artwork to date is on display on the inside of the roof of the bus. Now, with all the windows being filled with sunshines, happy faces, rainbows, stars and lots and lots of peace symbols, anyone with eyes could recognize The Peacebus coming down the street.

Not only am I sharing inspiration with the students who ride my bus, I’m sharing their inspiration with all of London! Since this window art project started, I’ve witnessed people young and old pointing at my bus and smiling as I drive past.

You see, it doesn’t take much more than a bit of positive inspiration, a peace of paper and a few colourful markers to show the world that you care about our future. So what are you waiting for… this story is now finished… so shut off your computer and create some peace art for your car windows, house windows, office windows and you too will shine with ‘the peace that has swept over all lands’!!!!!!


1 comment:

choose-the-path said...

Such a lovely and inspiring post, thank you so much and looking forward to seeing your bus soon!