Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Never Forget The Roots

The one seed that never stops being watered. Growth doesn't end with age. I will breathe and live in art forever. That's my happily ever after.
I'm home in Dayton for holiday break-- a much needed reprieve from stressful strenuous situations that reached to a critical breaking point. After assigned readings of Bell Hooks and Adrian Piper and trying to discuss those readings, personal attacks on race misconceptions burst inside overly heated seminar classroom last Monday. I found myself lost and shamefully led astray, needing compass and true direction. Conflicts that I shall not write into. In fact, since last night's Ferguson verdict, my mind has been stewing in pain and numbness. A wicked spider weaved a manifestation of anger filled thread into brain, layering thickly upon my heart. To bear witness to photographic images of a distraught family not receiving justice blew world to shattered smithereens. This case brought out the best and worst in the anonymous humanity. Internet serves as both fundamental education and grisly horror. For behind cyber screens are either powerful passionate activists dedicated to obliterating our country's massive problems or obscenely dangerous villains wanting only steadfast segregation.
Thus, a trip to Belmont High School this afternoon soothed like a healing balm, an elixir caressing inner wounds. Inside my former high school art teacher's classroom, Mrs. Carol Rogers that is, was once second home, a refuge (when she taught at Colonel White High School for the Performing Arts). Sounds of laughter and Damian Marley play loud. Happiness soon impregnated doubt, especially conversations about former students turning to arts colleges, refusing not to let their talents diminish. In other words, they were not statistics. 
Today I watched diverse teenagers, this up and coming generation of all sorts of different backgrounds and minorities. They chatted together whilst printmaking, drawing still life, or painting banners. I wasn't thinking about world news or social media or what happened in that classroom last Monday.
As I observed and learned:
I didn't see monsters or demons.
I didn't see "things" or "its" to fear.
I didn't see "black eyes filled with hatred."
I didn't see 3/5 of a human.
I didn't see threats.
I saw truth and promise.
I saw light, laughter and goodness.
I saw so much hope for dreams fulfilled.
I saw future artists, inventors, teachers, geniuses, and whatever they choose.
Most of all, I saw flesh and blood peoples deserving a chance just to be. 
Students worked with renown local artist James Pate to create large scale black and white portraits of phenomenal leaders-- Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. They each had a section of the grid and used charcoal on white paper to successfully render amazing, realistic renderings. I hear that Mother Theresa will be next in line for such a prestigious honor.
Bison mural unveiled last year also led by Pate. Three panels combined of individual student portraits form traditional Belmont mascot. Charcoal and chalk with red and blue (school colors) acrylic paint mixed with Mod Podge create a captivating composition that hangs in the school's main hallway. It was quite wonderful to see this being created by a bunch of enthusiastic students and playing a small part. There's truly nothing like working with youth who enjoy art. Nothing.
Student rolling up a woodcut print.
Wood cut close up entails a hand clutched basketball diving into the net.
"Without value you couldn't see anything," says Pate to one of the special drawing group-- a group for advanced young artists during last period. "If everything were the same exact color, there would be no contrast and no way to draw it. You can cheat nature if you understand value."
Their composed seemingly simple still life was plastic fruit, a cup, and wine bottle.
Students in action with charcoal.
Another student cuts out New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony.
This print came out wonderfully all due to this incredibly intricate line work. Short lines verses long lines in varied direction. Thick lines and narrow lines build intriguing highlights. Lots of precise decision making reflected here. He captured facial gesture, the very essence of this famous basketball player.
No words for special bonds forming between an art teacher and her fellow students. Mrs. Rogers has been a monumental figure in my life for seventeen years now. She's one of my dearest, truest friends and loves each and every one of her students-- has a memory like one wouldn't believe. It's amazing to see her each year, activating classroom, sprinkling her witty, humorous charm into the kids. They all love her as much as I do.

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