|These are just a few of the amazing paintings done by children in the tent cities of Haiti, on the anniversary of the earthquake.|
Sometimes I get so caught up in the academics and “mechanics” of teaching art (the elements, principles, and “how to’s”) that I forget the importance of art as a means of self-expression. On my recent trip to Haiti, I was enormously blessed to get to see this incredible exhibit of children’s paintings that happened to be on display on my last weekend there. (I mean, really, what are the chances of that??!) Valerie Noisette is an American artist (born to Haitian parents) who lives and works in Haiti and organized this inspiring event. On the anniversary of the earthquake, she and her team went into several of the tent cities armed with canvases, brushes and paint, and asked the children there to paint their “hopes and dreams for Haiti”. They collected over 2,000 paintings, and displayed about 350 of them in this ambitious exhibit. While I can’t even imagine the scope and complexity of organizing a project like this, what impressed me the most was that she even thought to do it. It made me realize how narrowly focused I’ve been on the how-to’s and the history of art, with little attention given to the idea that my students might actually want to communicate something through their artwork! I was especially touched by the national pride I saw over and over again in depictions of the Haitian flag and statements like “I love My Country” and “Dear Haiti, I Love You”. Thank you, Valerie, for the reminder that sometimes we need to just let kids create… and then listen to what they tell us through their art!