My part in these workshops is to lead the art component. We made file folders and time schedules that will be part of an art installation when the program is complete. It will be on display at UNC, Duke and the Artscenter in Carrboro. I will post more when the project is closer to completion. Right now Hidden Voices is collecting stories, art, and writing a play, so lots to do before it is ready for the public.
Last night was insomnia night and I couldn't stop thinking about these letters that were read. It made me think about who I would write to and what I would say, so I though I would write my own letter.
The teachers were given prompts to help them get started so I will use those. Here goes:
the prompt: describe the student, what they did, what they said, how they looked
locate the moment in time, space, year, environment
what you said, did, or thought
This is just to say
You were the smallest kid, the most lively, the most beautiful, the most attention seeking student I had in class. You were in my summer camp art class at the Community School of the Arts in Charlotte, NC and the year was 2003.
You were the biggest distraction in class and kept all of the other children from getting the attention they deserved because you got it all. I remember your name because I must have said it 100 times a day. Diondre sit down, Diondre don't do that, Diondre stop talking, Diondre what are you doing? , Diondre why aren't you doing your work, where is Diondre, on and on it went. It was so unfair to the other kids, because you were such a huge distraction to me, trying to keep you safe and interested while also trying to keep you from bothering all of the other well behaved kids in the class. It was so unfair to everyone. Then one day, I had enough and I snapped. I took you into the art supply room, shut the door and sat you down. I remember making you look me right in the eye while I told you that when you went into first grade, the teachers were going to get sick of you and you would fall through the cracks because no one was going to have the time to pay attention only to you. They would develop a dislike for you, because you were being so obnoxious and you would sit in the principal's office and then you would be off on the wrong track, have a history with the schools and not get the education you deserved because of a prejudice the teachers would have towards you due to your record of being a trouble maker. I saw this happen in my daughter's schools enough to know how it works. I told you these things and then you cried, and then I held you tight. You told me you didn't like art, you wanted to play basketball, but your grandmother was on the board, and you were there for free, because she wanted you there. But you didn't want to be there.
So we went back into the classroom and I wondered how many other kids didn't want to be there, but had to be because their parents had jobs and had to put their kids in summer camps all summer. You were tired and you just wanted to play outside.
So we did other things besides art. We made drum sticks and we made music, and we ran around the room like we were crazy, and you laughed and you settled down and you were not bored because someone was making you do art. Not everyone wants to do what the schools want them to do.
I still remember your beautiful face, and how you said goodbye to me at the end of camp, and I wonder where you are now and if what I said that day to you in the supply room made any difference at all in your life. Did you sit patiently in class when you started first grade, or have you been in the principal's office too many times.
I hope you have found a good life and have a little appreciation for art....