Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weekends in the art garden

Over the past two years, Hasankeyf children and volunteers from Hasankeyf Matters have met intermittently for art workshops. These open-air sessions began in the fall of 2012, when Sulyon, an environmentalist performing-arts group from Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, incorporated them into their performance during the 2nd Hasankeyf Ingathering. Thanks to the children’s enthusiasm, the workshops have continued, taking on a life of their own.

Each young artist (or team of artists) starts with a piece of paper, a brush and some color – if pencils or crayons are at hand they may sketch an idea before putting color to paper.

Recurring themes have been houses (with or without parents), the river and bridge in Hasankeyf, mountains, mosques, Zeynel Bey Tomb, helicopters, and even the initials “GS” for Galatasaray. The children mix colors and try new tools – sponges, paper towels, cloth rags, pine cones.

Sometimes the painting evolves and advances with an impressive degree of experimentation, only then to gradually disappear as the paper becomes saturated and begins to dissolve into pulp. What harm can there be in using color with a sense of abandon?

Participation usually varies from 10 to 40 eager young artists, and it can take a few minutes of coaxing to get everyone to spread out where each “team” has room to paint (or make puppets, or prints or whatever new activities the visiting art “coaches” introduce).

There are often so many participants that artists work in teams, sharing brushes, pencils and palettes. When the organizers are too slow to refill palettes, Hasankeyf’s emerging leaders step in to help, which works very well until everyone decides to become a helper.

The workshops take place on weekend afternoons in the garden behind the Hasankeyf Mayor’s office, where they are free of the fixed time and space constraints of a typical classroom. Children understand immediately that future workshops depend on the availability of supplies and an invitation to return to the garden, so they are careful to clean brushes, palettes and paint spills before leaving. Water, soap suds, scrub brushes and towels provide a whole new source of excitement and experimentation.

Time and energy permitting, some of the artists share the story that goes along with their painting. At a recent workshop, an adult commented, “There’s a nice structure in this painting.” Without a moment’s hesitation, the 8-year-old artist explained, “This is a picture of the world. It has this long road. And this is Hasankeyf; it’s hard to see but it’s right here.”

"And this is Hasankeyf; it's hard to see but it's right here."
-- John

1 comment:

  1. These 'naive' child artists of the 'Hasankeyf School' are having fun, something sorely needed in a situation where residents live in a constant state of insecurity about the fate of their historic town.