SchoolArts Magazine

November 2017

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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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 31 If These Shoes Could Talk These children kept walking in these shoes, enduring unimaginable hard- ship, right up until the day they were murdered. If they had a chance to grow up, what might they have done with their lives? To each of my students, I assigned the identity of a child who experienced the Holocaust. Each student was to consider the hopes and dreams of that child who would never be able to realize those dreams for him- or herself and create a sculpture of a shoe to honor them. Those shoes were worn by people who suffered persecution and starvation but still kept walking right up to the very end of their lives. If those shoes could talk, what would they tell us? Stepping in Another's Shoes Each of my sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students received a child's identity card from the American Holo- caust Museum website. They each r ead their biography and got to work building a shoe. Students took notes as they worked, explaining their creative choices, as I had also asked them to write an artist statement. Since many victims died as toddlers or left little information, I encouraged students to imagine that the child they were studying was a lot like them. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked. "Make your hopes and dreams their hopes and dreams. They cannot speak for themselves. It is your job to speak for them." Engineering The completed shoes were to be made using plaster bandages to give them enough strength to be displayed in a pile. Some students wrapped their bare feet in plastic wrap and then coated them with plaster. A few held their feet rigidly in an upward position as the plaster dried and then used tin foil and plaster to add a heel afterwards. Many others brought in old shoes and wrapped them, first in plastic wrap, and then in plaster to create a cast. Some students traced the soles of their shoes onto cardboard and then Students shared their imagined future for a child who would never grow up and connected their work with the person the were honoring. built a solid form using newspaper and masking tape before making a cast. Others chose to build solid sculptures that merely looked like shoes. A few built 3D shoes using tag board, cardboard, and masking tape CONTINUED ON PAGE 44. An actual pile of discarded shoes that were taken from Auschwitz concentration camp victims.

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