Kildonan-East Collegiate is working to develop creativity alongside a sense of social justice.
Art teacher Angel Audrey welcomed the chance to work with artist Alejandra Diaz once again after Diaz worked with students through the Manitoba Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools program during the last school year.
Audrey helped get 150 Kildonan-East students, complete with individually-designed peace T-shirts designed for the event, together for the Walk For Peace at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) on Sept. 20. Approximately 50 students from Robert Andrews School also participated while John Henderson Junior High School, Hampstead School, and Munroe Junior High School all held their own events and are also participating in connected peace-related arts projects.
"We (Diaz and I) were thinking ‘What are we both really passionate about? Peace,’" Audrey said, noting she was thrilled to participate in Winnipeg’s first-ever Peace Days celebrations and will participate on the planning committee for next year. "(We want students to know) what they can do to do their part for peace in the world. Often they think it’s just war happening in other countries and it’s so far removed from any of them."
The project will continue as students are making sculptures that Audrey hopes will one day grace the halls of the CMHR. The idea to create sculptures came after students studied the work of Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, who was especially active during the Second World War.
Diaz, who specializes in Mexican papier-mâché sculptures called alebrije, said getting students involved in the medium should create some beautiful pieces. Grade 12 students are working together to create large, life-sized human sculptures while younger students are creating smaller ones on their own.
"You don’t have to be that specialized," she said. "We are expecting really great results."
Manitoba Arts Council arts education manager Susan Israel is enthused about the project, and will be presenting on it at the Arts Smarts conference in Toronto in November.
"I want to present this as my exemplary project," Israel said, noting the concept of using the arts to teach a non-arts subject is the conference’s focus. "This is a great example of arts integration at its finest. It’s amazing art, they’re working with a professional artist, and they’re also linking to the museum."
Grade 10 student Theora Patterson feels it’s helpful for her to learn about global issues in an artistic context.
"It’s really opening it up a lot better than in English (class) because I think I work more visually," Patterson said. "Words can express this, but so can art."
"You’re letting something inside you shine through. In other ways, you listen but you don’t understand," added classmate Tania Wiebe. "Here, you understand, comprehend, and express."
Wiebe added she’s learned how many people in the world don’t have a voice to make a pitch for peace, so she feels the project is a way of speaking for them.