There was an electricity in
the air so strong one could feel the power of it. The children in the two
week art class all at once pulled all they had learned together at this
time. The struggling discipline of going through learning shapes and
shading techniques all at once jelled in their minds. It was like they were
in perfect unison as much as soldiers marching to cadence. Enough paper
couldn't be handed out as they finished one after another drawing. There was
exhilaration that seemed to say, “We got it. We learned. We did it!” The
feeling was so strong I could hardly contain my happiness. I wanted to laugh
and to cry at the same time.
The joyful little cartoon
characters they were designing themselves were shapes for sure. There was an
alien whose balloon was to say, I come in Peace.
“How do you spell peace?”
The little girl had been the most withdrawn but now was working with
sparkling eyes while she struggled to design a character like she had, no
doubt, already seen. That didn't matter. She was remembering, recording and
wishing to learn to spell. What more could I ask.
To get them out of the
building into the world of sunlight and shadow meant that we had to fight
the wind while we tried to use scrap fax paper. If the wind caught the paper
just right it was like teenagers throwing toilet paper. There was no end to
the unfurling of it and the resulting battle to fold it again. There was no
blackboard in the building so all work had to be done on a shaky easel which
threatened to fall at any moment while we worked on it.
I really couldn't afford the
book of Remington and Russell's artwork but swallowed my guilt in buying it
as the class was totally, immediately, enamored with the paintings depicting
their ancestors. The quotes Russell left were read. Something seemed to
click in their minds. What a wonderful legacy this man, Charles Russell,
left to far away descendants of the people he painted. Did this man truly
understand the value of his own contribution.
Most of the time had been
with me trying to shout over their noisy chatter but the last day was so
quiet we could have heard a pin drop. They worked so intently there just was
no time for visiting.
We finished up the class with
them having lunch at my house so they could enjoy my small in home gallery.
The video of me painting the post office mural was not of such good quality
but they intently watched it. The video of the Tallgrass Prairie with the
huge, shaggy, buffalo brought right up to the front via the zoom of the
camera left them looking around at each other wide eyed. The four minute
video on my brother's film aired nationally of Native American Dance was
absorbed as if they were a sponge.
What a joyful experience but
sad too as we waved good-bye to the children. There was no withdrawn sullen
looks now, only bright smiling hopeful faces were there.