Teaching art to the American
Indian children at WhiteEagle has been an experience. Not because they are
of another race but because they are absorbed by the dominant race. In just
a few days while working with them it has become obvious to me these
children are a part of this new world in which we all live. Like everything
else though times and circumstances move forward. If they complain about
not wanting to go outside because, “It is air-conditioned inside,” this does
not stop me. Once outside their old latent instincts become active and
they are busily observing the shadows on the grass with its difference in
color, the blue sky holes in the trees, and even intently watch the garbage
men who pick up the large canister to dump it in their truck.
At the beginning before the
political element had a chance to blossom through the children there were
great strides and they did quickly get some important concepts made easy
through that old master, Pythagorus.
“Wow! Look at this! Hey,
this is neato! I can do this!” All were coming from children who had been
sitting in art classes doing squiggles, doodles, hearts and various flat
designs. All at once when they began shading the shapes there opened up a
new world for them. “Hey! Look! 3-D,” one of the children was heard to say.
I was reluctance to bring
art down to the common practice of competition which seems to be the core of
our push, rush, hurry up to do better than someone else world. However the
guidelines of J.O.M. dictate and I meekly oblige. For show we did complete
two twenty-four by thirty-six inch canvases. It was difficult to keep the
paint off the floor, the tables, the children themselves. Actually this
didn't happen but with a minimum of destruction from the non-toxic
(really?) paint. We did get through that. The kids learned what a canvas
is. They got the opportunity to feel the give of the fabric as they worked
on it. I might add this is what brings life to an artist's wish to create.
Something about the movement even though it is, ever so slight, it is
The non-toxic paint so struck
down my muscles I was hardly able to walk for the rest of the day yesterday.
Hopping around to do chores was a reminder to me not to do this ever again.
As mentioned the tribal
politics reaches its powerful hand out and slaps down the beginning efforts
so little will get accomplished from here out. Nevertheless, we will use the
hard earned, quickly learned shapes for these last two days to actually
draw kid's things, snails, frogs, bears, cats, and dogs. There is no doubt
in my mind that they can now do it. Can I help it if this looking to nature
for inspiration is of their own background? I simply ignore the thought
that someone up there wants them to be more individualistic. Hearts,
doodles, and squiggles are original? These kids got a taste of what might
one day may save their own real hearts.