Monday, June 1, 2015
21 Cents That Chain Us
I wanted to share a little more about this art piece and how it came to be. This past year, I offered an after school art class and had 12 students from the ages of 7- 12 sign up. The class was about finding your inner visionary and we discussed some of the artist featured at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. If you have not been you should check it out.
Anyway, I wanted the students to push themselves to create "something" out of trinkets and left over pieces of things others had abandoned. I wanted them to connect with the material and put something on the canvas that represented them as an artist.
This led me to lead by example. About the time the class was taking place, there was a great deal of media coverage about the Michael Brown shooting. I learned that young black males were 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than their white counterparts. This is not OK with me.
As I went in front of the students every week, I would bring this canvas with me so they could see it transform into the final piece of art. We talked about the two Statue of Liberties in the background and how we divide ourselves. We talked about the bubbles we all live in and how that keeps up from seeing other people and learning from them as we also teach them about ourselves.
We talked about the history in the country when it comes to racism and how we all must do better and that it all starts with each of them.
There was one young man, who upon seeing this final canvas looked at the other kids and said, "We have to change all of this! We have to make things better for everybody."
It made my eyes water and my heart full that this group of 12 kids could see the meaning behind the work and were unafraid to embrace the work that needs to be done to make a difference.
The art they presented back to me was unbelievable, complex, funny, deep and meaningful. I will carry the images of them presenting their work to their parents with me always and see their faces as they told their stories.
As for me, this piece is hanging on my wall and it has become one of those pieces I am finding hard to let go. I am sure the right person or organization will come along that fits into the message it conveys. If that happens, I will sell it or donate it and move onto the next piece in the hopes it speaks as deeply to the kids as this one.
This was constructed using a bunch of different things, but the outside edge of the canvas is framed with construction strapping. I liked the way it looks and will be using it again on other pieces.
I hope you like it.