My Dear Students, June, 2020. •. Remote Learning
When we rise to face a new day within the whirl of despairing global realities; working and learning within the confines of our house, our rooms, our narrow periphery—it may seem in some strange way that we are spinning in place. Amidst so much unexpected confusion, pain, and sadness, your education experience, for now, has unexpectedly become pixelated and splattered with emotional roller coasters. While you are learning, you are also trying to figure out what is going on in this world, how you fit into it, and what you can do about it. With such varied circumstances, it is certain that some are more directly and deeply affected than others. We wrestle with emotions that are cut deep from the wounds of our families, our friends, our histories. I meet you with as much pep as I can muster because it is difficult for me too—to see you waking these days with tasseled hair, bleary eyes, and with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
Nevertheless, I try to teach you art—'sculpting' of all things using air-dry clay that we mix with mud found in our backyards. We make animals: frogs and chameleons to be exact. We talk about symbolism and how many cultures around the world consider them to be totems of renewal. I hope in some small way these experiences will bring you closer to nature and provide you with a brief moment of peace. We find, however, that woven between the solace and play of creating you must also face your mistakes, trial and error cycles, frustrations, smoothing out bumps, and repairing deep and superficial cracks. We pull in strategies not least of which is a sense of humor and a willingness to accept that we are all trying to do the best that we can. You notice that this process holds a mirror up to life. And, because of what I know about Art, I want you to believe, as I believe—in the magic of Art; in the power and language of aesthetics; and in the alchemy of materials. I want you to notice that turning a malleable blob of clay into something imaginative can open your heart to sensations that have nothing to do with pixels—yet, has everything to do with the nature of your Spirit, with touch, with experiencing the world and what it actually means to take an intelligent, heartfelt creative leap that translates your emotions into form.
As your last pieces take shape and find their place in the Schoology Album, I am touched and proud to see that you have learned so much. I hope if not now, then sometime in the future when you look back on this historical time and talk about it with your families, friends, children, nieces, and nephews you will also think of some of these experiences and how our Land Art video moved so many people with your sentiments and our Once Upon a Time: in the Land of the Frogs video made people smile when we all needed that the most. I hope you also enjoy the culminating video I just finished for you called Rise: Ceramics I-IV, 2020! Art can heal. I know this from the depth of my soul. I appreciate sharing this time with you and I am so moved by your willingness to learn under these very surreal and horrendous circumstances. May you stay strong, healthy, and kind—and may you always remain open to learning new things.
With much Love and Peace to you All, Ms. O.