Monday, December 17, 2012


"It is your ability as a creative person to envision positive change that will make a difference." Patricia Johanson  

Today is Monday, December 17th, a brand new day.  I came into my classroom prepared to be there for my students.  Newtown is next to my hometown in Connecticut and I know people who are grieving and processing still.  As I hold my son tighter, and work with my students, my thoughts are with the families and the community in Newtown and I hope they work together and help each other heal.  As an art teacher, what can I do?  Art is often a tool for inspiration, creativity, fun, and beauty.  Art is often used as healing.  I had a Kindergarten art class today.  Instead of letting myself be stricken with grief, I found myself working hard to be stronger, positive and forging ahead.  It will not be easy for many of us and we will all recover differently.  Those teachers in Newtown were heroes as they thought of their students first and showed their love and compassion no matter what.  I still believe we can all make a difference.  What will you do in your classroom to prepare our students for the future and process their healing?  This post below is part of my healing process. 
Chagall, The Three Candles
President Obama Speech
Vigil for Sandy Hook

"And we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear.

And we know we can’t do this by ourselves. It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we’re all parents; that they’re all our children.

This is our first task -- caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged. "

Chagall's Peace Window
 Marc Chagall - Peace Window, United Nations, NYC, 1964
Earlier in the year our High School art class kicked off the curriculum studying Russian Art, and Marc Chagall.  We learned about Chagall's difficult life and his purpose as an artist to heal and promote peace.  He also began working with stained glass late in his life and one particular piece our classes studied was his Peace Window.  My classroom has a smartboard/LCD projector so I was able to display the Peace Window onto the board, and turn off the lights in the classroom.  The effect was powerful.  Students were amazed by the serenity and the chills that came about, and discussed their reactions to the artwork.  Students discussed how art can be healing for both the artist and his audience.  Students created their own symbolic imagery of what brings them peace and designed a faux stained glass window.
An example of a lesson plan using Chagall's Peace Window can be found here.

Chuck Baird, You are the Light of the World

Chuck Baird - You are the Light of the World, 2002
Chuck Baird suffered from cancer at the end of his life and it had a profound impact on his later artwork.  He concentrated on the beauty of life and the light within.  K-12 students created a design for our school yearbook incorporating ASL art in honor of Chuck Baird.
More about Chuck Baird's work can be found here.
This means "Support" in American Sign Language by Chuck Baird

Community -
Community is an important part of our school's belief system.  It is a time for us to come together and support one another.  Our Executive Director sent us a school wide e-mail reminding us to be there for our students, support them as needed and know that our school counselors are available to support them.  After school today, we will have a staff meeting so we can support each other as well.  More about our school and its core values can be found here.
"We love Peace," UNArt for Peace Winner, Age 7, China

Art as Healing -
Art has been used as a form of communication and expression for as long as man has been around.  Artists and their artwork can inspire themselves and others to begin the healing process.  Art Therapy is an example of how art can help people recover.  Today some of my students simply became relaxed by working on their art projects.  One student made a card to the "20 Angels" before returning to her art project.

"Art is a wound turned into light" Georges Braque


  1. I am going to be reading this post a few more times. I especially love the Braque quote which I'd never heard before but believe fully. I have always been an artist and my siblings have not. My brothers have had their fair share of ups and downs. During a terrible downs a pschologist asked my brother if he had any siblings. When he said he had a sister, he immediately said, "she is an artist, isn't she?" My brother thought he must be be psychic but he just reads people well. Artists are able to make their wounds part of their work instead of internalize them and let them fester into darkness. I think it has been my saving grace to claim myself as an artist, I do believe we are all artists if we allow ourselves to be. Being artist is being human. Something we all need to practice. Thank you again for your post. I will also be looking at this Marc Chagall piece maybe with my students. At first I was thinking maybe Picasso's blue period but it doesn't quite connect for me. This is very powerful.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I hope the Chagall peace helps your students. Peace Education through the arts might be good for us to do every year.

  3. Just found your blog and hope to see more great stuff from you this year!