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OneWorld Classroom

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Siyum Sheshebai Kyzy, Grade 7, Kyrgyzstan
Recently the students at The Phoenix School received a package filled with amazing pieces of art created by kids our age from all around the world. The older kids were assigned to select a single piece of artwork from the bunch and without hesitation I chose a beautiful hand sewn pillow from Kyrgyzstan. This piece of art was so simple, and yet amazing I didn’t know any better way to describe it then to create a story. I intended for the story to share my thoughts about this pillow and to help explain how art does not have to be simply a drawing on paper, or a sculpture but real objects that are used in everyday life.

The Art of Practicality Olivia, grade 8
Lost, confused, hungry and tired I lay down on the dirty ground. My mind reels and sends my body spinning. How did this happen? How have I become so lost in the tall mountains of Kyrgyzstan? As I try to regain my strength and stand back up my eyes catch sight of people walking slowly, with their backs hunched. The women are loaded down with colorful fabrics, and the men are all carrying long sticks, bound with leather strips. I am now on my knees calling for them, but no words are able to escape my parched mouth. I wave my arms and try to move my body as much as possible, but still my efforts seem to go unnoticed. As I lay back down I see a young girl, about 13 years old spot me and the pack of nomads head in my direction.

After walking for what seemed like days, the pack consults, their lips moving, and heads bobbing in obvious agreement. We are to make a camp here, for the livestock is plentiful, as are the plants on which they survive. Men start to raise the sticks. As they expand I see a tent begin to form and the women lay the embellished cloths on top. This yurt, their home, is complete after only an hour of assembly and I am now asked to help them lay down their finest rugs which are so bright, vivid and intricately sewn that I can hardly even bring myself to lay a finger on the delicate threads.

Finally I assist them in spreading the rugs on the hard floor, and decorating their yurt with their finest pieces of felt, beads, braids, and animal skins. Finally, we set up the woman’s corner on the right and men’s corner on the left. I, of course stay in the woman’s corner to help cook a dinner of goat’s meat, and beans. With my stomach now filled with rich succulent foods, I can observe my surroundings and talk with the people who have kindly taken me in.

She sat there with the smooth, vivid cloth in her hands, manipulating it in ways I have never seen. Her hands like butterflies flying effortlessly, creating something so magnificent. She looks up at me and smiles, I smile back. This is the young girl who found me when I was lost and brought me in so humbly. I thank her for what she did, and she looks away. I understand she is shy, so instead of trying to make contact I go to sleep. My head rests on the hard floor, my eyes close like heavy doors, my breath slows, my body sleeps.

I am awoken by the smell of breakfast cooking and the smoke rising up and out of the yurt through the tunduk. Something does not feel like it had when I first laid to rest; my head has been cushioned under a finely sewn cushion, a padirshka. I gaze at this beautiful piece of art, its bold colors, perfect symmetry and smooth silk feel. My eyes are trained to this amazingly simple yet extraordinary thing and I realize that this was what the girl had been sewing just last night. A gift for me, but why? I have not given her anything, but her kindness is so strong she made this simply to cushion my body on the hard ground.

After freshening myself I find the young girl creating yet another padirshka and ask her of its importance, and why she is so fond of sewing. Shyly she responds, explaining that her mother had taught her everything she knows about the careful art, from the different stitches to the different colors and patterns. Then she quiets, her mother had passed away during the last time they had moved and sewing is the only way to keep her mother’s spirit living in her heart. Moved, I ask her to teach me the art and she obliges. Together we pick out fabrics of orange, red, and purple, bold colors, strong colors. My hands clumsily grasp the needle, and create crooked stitches, a mess of thread and disappointment laying in my hands. She re-assures me that it should not have come out perfect the first time, but it is still art. I listen while she explains that art is something that is not perfect, but something that you have created from your soul, something with meaning and purpose and that I had created art. Now I feel strong, whole, and a part of these wonderful people, all because of these simple pieces of art.

Pihliani Sibuji, Grade 6, South Africa
Canvas of Heat By Jeffrey, grade 8

Art is all around us and is part of every culture around the world. For some it may be paintings or drawings and others use art as part of their every day life like hand made pillows or even clothes. In many cultures these arts are passed down from parent to child but are being lost in the modern world.

The Phoenix School is participating in a global project called Oneworld Classroom that sends the art of children to other children in another country so they can experience diverse art and different cultures. The piece of art I received from this project is a very simple drawing from South Africa that really speaks to me. The picture is a crayon drawing of two huts the color of indigo and lavender with a Y-shaped path connecting them. A tan and barren landscape dominates the background with several trees and their long shadows strewn across it.

The scene makes me think of standing in an arid plain with a mighty orange sun glaring down at me, cooking me with its scorching gaze. There is very little shade to take shelter under so I cautiously venture into one of the huts, not knowing what might be in silent waiting for me. Every time I look at the picture a wave of heat pervades me even though the air currently surrounding me is very cool.

When I look at the picture I can’t help but admire the way in which the shadows of the trees and the huts stretch across the landscape telling me that it is near sunset or sunrise yet there is no sun visible in the picture. As I observe the trees I see that where the sun shines upon them they are bright green and brown but become darker and darker as the move into the shadow until the side opposite of the sun is the color of ebony, giving the picture a very realistic effect.

The Y-shape path in the drawing has intrigued me ever since I learned that the Y-shape on the South African flag means people coming together. Maybe I’m being too complex in my thought but I would definitely like to ask the creator of the drawing the meaning. To me the picture shows great, vibrant colors and uses of shades and shadows.

This project has given me hope that art will not be lost in this age of technology but rather embraced by everyone sharing their art and sharing their culture.

Creativity ~ The Language of Learning! The Phoenix school is a PK-8th grade,co-ed, day school located in downtown Salem, MA. Learning begins in one large, brightly colored space divided into smaller, specific learning areas full of books, materials, and technology. Our mission is to develop global citizens who are compassionate, creative and technologically proficient individuals in a dynamic and interconnected world. Students, teachers and parents of diverse backgrounds join together to integrate the knowledge, values and leadership necessary for students to participate actively within their families and communities, now and into the future.

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