Syria Crisis

The following text has been shared from one of my students’ blog posts.  Her observations and reflections convey the importance of providing independence in our learning environments.  I am proud to share her thinking on my blog, and must commend her for being brave enough to let me post it here.

The Differences

Before starting this assignment, I hadn’t realized how different art classes were going to be between high school and elementary school, although I should have. Even after we were given our first assignment I was oblivious to the alteration between schools. In fact, I didn’t notice the changes until later on, when we began the Syria Crisis project.

The first difference I noticed was probably the most difficult one to over come, which was that we never used to express our thoughts and ideas through our artwork. The assignments we were given were always limited in ways where we didn’t have to put much thought into what we were doing or trying to create. So when the time came where I actually had to express my ideas, I found myself lost. I’d never been particularly good with art, or sharing my thoughts, so having to put the two together was a challenge in itself.

The second difference I found between the schools is that there are so many more options in high school. We used to regularly stick to drawing and cutting, but then all of a sudden we were surrounded by things we rarely/never used before. It was interesting being able to pick what you wanted to experiment with and use for your project, although it was kind of intimidating as well, having access to all of those new possibilities.

The third and final difference ties in together with the first two, and that’s having responsibility over the design. Of course we’d occasionally had to come up with our own design for art projects, but never the same way we had to for this assignment. Alongside having to express my ideas, and having those new possibilities in high school, coming up with a design from pretty much nothing was difficult, and to say the least, frustrating for me.


 After uncovering those three differences between the art classes, my opinion on the Syria Crisis project changed. I realized it wasn’t going to be as easy as I had been expecting, and for the most part, I was right.

The problem with my planning was that I spent too much time thinking about the design and what I wanted to do, rather than what I wanted to use. I know the design itself is probably more important, but a big part with why I was struggling was because I didn’t know how I should design it. It wasn’t until about halfway through the week did I start experimenting with different materials.

After that, I had began to develop a preference towards what I wanted to use, (printmaking) so I began to think up some ideas for the actual design that could work with that material, and what message I wanted to get across about the refugees.

I spent another while trying to come up with something, but unfortunately, nothing. That’s when I decided to take a different approach. Looking back at how we were kind of connecting our artwork with what Picasso did in his painting, Guernica, I decided to do a little research on it.

I found out that a lot of his painting revolved around symbolism. For instance, at the top of the painting there is a light bulb with light rays extracting from it. At first glance, it looks out of place from the rest of the artwork, but it has a deeper meaning. The word light bulb in Spanish is bombilla, which out of context, in English, is bomb. So although it looks like a good thing in contrast to the surroundings, it is actually representing the bombs that were released onto the people of Guernica.

Taking the idea of using symbolism, I decided to do something along the same lines and use symbols to represent the pain and suffering Syrians are going through, but after what seemed like forever, all of my ideas looked plain, boring and just didn’t get the message across.

At this point I had only about three days left before the assignment was due, so I was pretty determined to think of a design to use. I went home that night, and actually forgot about the deadline until I was just about to go to bed. I spent the next hour browsing the internet in hopes of coming across something that could make my mind snap, which is exactly what I found.

After reading a few news articles about the Syria Crisis, I realized how popular the topic was over media, yet how no one knew exactly what they were going through. That’s how I came up with the words; Seen & Heard but Not Understood.

I figured it was simple yet it got the point across well, so all I needed was a picture to go along with it, and for some reason my mind seems to work better at 2am on a Thursday morning then any other time I actually need it to function properly, because it didn’t take me long to decide on using a face of a Syrian, only I couldn’t actually draw a face very well so I stuck to the blank outline.

The next two days I prepared to get the mirrored outline of my design onto the piece of rubber in order to begin carving the picture into it. I was fortunately able to finish with time left over to do the first test print, so that’s exactly what I did.

It turned out better than I expected, and was surprised that after most of my time was spent coming up with nothing that could help me with the project, I still managed to think of something reasonable, and actually finish it in time for the deadline.

Many thanks to Angel, who allowed me to share her written reflections on this blog.



This entry was posted in Art Education, Education Reform, Growing Success and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Syria Crisis

  1. lisamnoble says:

    This is such a powerful piece. I really enjoyed the honesty of working through the transition to high school art, and the way you admitted that you hadn’t managed your time terribly well, but you still ended up with something you’re proud of. I’d really like to see a visual of your piece at some point. I think it sounds very powerful.

    Thanks so much for writing this, and to Ms. Rose for sharing it. I talked about it to my 12 year old son today (who is a talented artist) and he admitted that the open-endedness of the project would have been very difficult for him to manage. But as we walked and talked, he described that design he would have created – a globe filled with eyes in different stages of waking up – so thank you for the opportunity to share that creative process with my son.

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