SchoolArts Magazine

OCT 2010

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 39 of 67

Middle School Studio Lesson beariNg WitNeSS Laurie Bellet E The Responsibility of the Artist very year at Oakland Hebrew As artists, we bear a different burden Day School, a dedicated group than typical historians. When we of middle-school students work, we bring our creativity and comes together to study the emotional being to the endeavor. We Holocaust through art. This study bring human perspectives to the raw culminates in an installation piece facts. Through our art, we each reveal to be displayed at community coman individual perspective and focus memorative events. The art curwhile, at the same time, allowing riculum at OHDS is choice-based, onlookers to layer requiring students our work with their to assume responTo truly "bear viewpoints. sibility for their art witness" involves Art carries perpetdecisions, process, making an experience ual value. Years from outcome, and evaluavisible, tangible and now, spectators will tion. Working within emotionally compelling. be able to interpret a collaborative group the emotional conadds significant comtent of our work as well as the factual plexity and reward to this art experidata of the history it represents. We ence. The following is a description have used enduring symbols that have of this year's work as developed by universal meaning. To understand students. our work does not require lengthy study. It does, however, implore us to The Responsibility return to it, to view its many aspects, of Bearing Witness to focus on its different regions, to We recognize that we are a unique re-examine the potential of what we generation. We are the last generation have expressed. to have the opportunity to learn about the Shoah directly from individuals The Art Problem who experienced it. We feel it is our We were given the task of creating artresponsibility now, and in the future, work that describes the Shoah through to "bear witness" for those who can the vision of a witness, as if we too, no longer do so for themselves. To were survivors. Early on, we recogtruly "bear witness" involves making nized that bearing witness requires an experience visible, tangible, and our eyes, mouths, hands, souls, and emotionally compelling. hearts. The scope of this realization carried great significance for us, caus38 October 2010 SchoolArts ing each of us to connect personally and profoundly with the task. The Process Our research took us through historical accounts and photographs, art of post-Shoah American artists, and the art created in the Theresienstadt Ghetto. Printmaking was selected as the medium we would use because it demands bold symbolism and a lot of physical interaction with the materials and the creation itself. Some of us traced our own hands into the work, imprinting ourselves even further into the subject. We were surprised to see at the end that we had all included eyes in our work. After our preliminary sketches were completed, we drew our images onto printing linoleum and carved the designs. We printed with black and metallic inks and had a wide color selection of paper. We each completed six prints and were responsible for personally selecting the print to be incorporated into the final piece. These final choices were made on the basis of ink quality and contrast with the background paper.

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