The Seed of Unmasking   

Barbara Clark

                                                                                                                                        Painting by Barbara Clark, 2009

                                                                                                                                        Photo by Roy Temple

 

Video Created by Kelsey Wiegert

In the above video, CCSU elementary education teacher candidates and first year freshmen teamed with 160 fifth grade children from the Gaffney and DiLoreto Magnet Elementary Schools in New Britain, for the unmasking emotions project titled, Echoes from a Child’s Soul: Children of Incarcerated Parents Release their Voices through Art, Music, Dance, Mask Making, Movement, and Creative Writing. The project culminated in a compassionate community performance at Welte Auditorium on December 10, 2011, portraying a series of symbolic artistic messages, encompassing poetry, dance, visual imagery, masks and music to release the children's voices.

 This performance clip from ‘Echoes’ symbolizes the vast ocean of children that are at-promise. A child’s sense of themselves and the world is hidden in darkness, their true potential yet untapped by the educational system —held down by test-taking mandates. There is still hope for public education within future teachers that celebrate a child’s imagination and create meaningful and adventurous experiences to release and honor a child’s critical voice.

 As depicted, unmaking truth and freedom was paramount during the ‘Echoes’ performance. Children were free to express their views and perceptions of their life and community with strength, pride and conviction. Through a tapestry of masks, music, poetry, dance and acting, intense emotional responses of respect, compassion, hope, anger control and confidence were released. Future teachers’ developed new realities of education and true belief that they can and do empower elementary school children. Parents and family members recorded the performances to be cherished and shared with their larger family and neighborhood friends.

Video Created by Kelsey Wiegert

Teachers who have upheld teaching as a spiritual practice believe that an aesthetic educational experience within a compassionate community may lead to unmasking our “false self”. Merton (1955/1983) describes our false self as prejudices and judgmental attitudes that inhibit compassion. Amongst children, the video clip also illuminates how aesthetic education guides pre-service teachers to unmask conflicts between their beliefs and the realities of educational institutions, revealing their emerging sense of identity as creative compassionate teacher leaders for change.

 "We are supposed to be the light of the world. We are supposed to be a light to ourselves and to others. That may well be what accounts for the fact that the world is in darkness” (Merton, 1963, p. 16)!

 This is what the arts do for us—the arts bring us together— the arts inspire us—the arts make us think of perhaps a more compassionate world— the arts nurture our souls, unmask truth, and feed us with hope for the future.

 

All references to outside sources can be found in the bibliography sections of our published work.