Making art fascinates all children, both doing it themselves and seeing adults do it. "We Are All Making Art" took advantage of this: I sculpted children in eight Milwaukee area public schools while students watched, asked any questions that came into their minds, and did their own artwork. I used their art as part of my own sculpture so that there's a marriage of mine and theirs, and I called the sculpture "We Are All Making Art."
Whenever I'm in a museum, I'm always dying to touch, and guards seem to sense this and watch me very carefully. Touch, to me, is almost as important as looking. After I finished painting "We Are All Making Art," I went to an auto body shop, had all the children in the sculpture clear-coated, so touch became possible without a permanent patina of fingerprints. I mounted each individual figure on a lazy Susan so they are easily turned. Whenever the viewer wishes to see a different angle, it's easily accessible. And the sculpture keeps on moving, as does any classroom of children.
We Are All Making Art currently on display at the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, 929 East Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee WI.
I've always been fascinated by the way in which Tibetans roll their prayer wheels, and this moving becomes part of their prayer. It adds sensation to the mover, again through touch, and that influenced me in designing a sculpture with so many lazy Susans.
The most stimulating part of working in the public schools was getting to know the children. I spent many hours with each child, and his life experience became part of my own. I'm sure this was reciprocal, for I express myself freely when I sculpt. These playful and intense conversations helped each of us learn about each other and ourselves. I tried to express in the sculpture not so much how the children look, but more how they feel. That's what my search is about in my work.
I also paint the sculptures with the person's inner being in mind. I see color auras through what the people wear, through their hair color, through their flesh tones. In the act of painting, I try to feel the sensation of the person.
In 1994 I had a sabbatical and spent a month in Israel. It was my first visit to that country and came about just when the Israelis and Jordanians were signing their historic peace agreement. I have relatives in Israel who took me to the places they thought would interest me most. The highlight of this adventure was a few hours at Neve Shalom. This community was established as a peace center where Arabs and Jews live together and their children go to a completely bilingual school. They learn each other's languages and customs and enjoy being together. I felt right at home. The children had done drawings depicting how they experienced the peace accord, from different points of view; all this artwork was hung in the same room.
We Are All Making Art on display at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam school, Doar Na Shimshon 99761 Israel
My objective at Neve Shalom was to do a project similar to my Milwaukee project, this time of Arab and Jewish children making art together.
At Neve Shalom I realized I saw the future for Israel, a model for peace, perhaps not in my generation, certainly in generations to come. I had just completed "We Are All Making Art." I thought it would be wonderful to do a sculpture of these children making art in Israel, living life together and enjoying making art together.
[Suzanne's 1994 and 1997-1998 Neve Shalom journals.]Click any thumbnail below to view a series of medium images. Click on the medium image to view a series of larger images.
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