Students call attention to global conflicts with art
Art students at Running Brushy Middle School took lumps of smooth, white clay and shaped them into bones of all different sizes. As they worked, they talked about international conflicts and genocide.
They shaped clay into skulls and jaw bones, leg and arm bones. Some made phalanges — the tiny bones in hands and feet. Under the guidance of art teachers Melissa Walta and Adrienne Hodge, the students discussed topics such as the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing, and they learned of ongoing conflicts throughout the world, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.
The Running Brushy bones, 275 in all, will become part of the project One Million Bones, an effort to raise awareness of ongoing conflicts. The bones represent the millions of people who lost their lives or have survived such incidents in recent history.
For every bone donated and registered with Students Rebuild, the Bezos Family Foundation will donate a $1 to humanitarian group CARE for relief support and for rebuilding programs that benefit young people in hard-hit areas. The project culminates in a large-scale art installation in Washington from June 8 to 10.
Hodge, who is in her third year teaching, said the project offers students a sense of connection to problems in other countries. “There’s often a sense of otherness, like ‘Oh, that’s over there,’ ” she said. “There was a lot of silence when we first introduced this. Then I was blown away with how the students got on board.”
Eighth-graders Ciera Colvin and Danielle Ciapi both said they were glad to participate.
“It was pretty powerful,” Danielle said. “It’s pretty cool knowing that we’re part of a big movement, and it’s not just art.”
Colvin said she liked the project because it “showed me that there’s still something to fight for, that we can make the world a better place with more peaceful means.”
Walta said the project also opened discussions about issues closer to home, such as racism and how art can be more than just self-expression. “This showed them that art can be part of community outreach,” she said. “They began looking past themselves.”