"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 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|
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 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