Greenwich exchanges art and culture with Red Cloud Indian School
By Anissa Arakal, a sophomore at Sacred Heart Greenwich and a staff writer for the school’s awardwinning online student newspaper, the “King Street Chronicle”
Audrey Jacobs of Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota recently visited Sacred Heart Greenwich. During her stay at Sacred Heart, Ms. Jacobs represented Red Cloud in the school-wide art exchange and participated in an Upper School chapel. The art exchange aims to broaden both schools' understanding of each other, and draw parallels and contrasts between the two distinct cultures.
The Red Cloud Indian School Committee, comprised of 12 Sacred Heart faculty and staff members, has been working to bring the two school communities together for three years now. Ever since the two schools joined forces, Sacred Heart students and faculty have visited Pine Ridge Indian Reservation annually. In addition, members of the Red Cloud community, such as Father George Winzenburg S.J., president of Red Cloud, visit Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart students and faculty are planning a return to Pine Ridge this year.
Students from both Red Cloud and Sacred Heart are participating in an art exchange based on the objects they find most important to them. Seventeen Sacred Heart Upper School Drawing and Painting students, 26 Upper School Photography students, and a class of Middle and Lower School art students engaged in this project.
“I am excited by the common threads that run throughout the work, which show what is special to every child. Where the differences lie there will be opportunity for great learning about the vast differences in their environment and ours. I have a feeling we are going to see more similarities than differences,” Upper School Photography Teacher and member of The Red Cloud Indian School Committee Ms. Kev Filmore said.
The art exchange is based on the “Special Object” that students find to be most important in their lives. Upper School Art Teacher Mrs. Paula Westcott and her students created drawings of these objects along with a written artist statement. Student artwork from this project was on display outside of the School Chapel.
“The main goal of the art exchange is to ignite a cultural exchange and seeing new people's ideas. I hope both schools can gain a deeper perspective of each other and form a deeper relationship," Ms. Jacobs said.
Along with exchanging art, the students are also exchanging cultural values. While the work from both schools is on display, so are the similarities and differences in what each culture values. Since both groups of students have the same assignment, to represent what matters to them most, it is easy to draw comparisons and differences between what the two cultures find important. The objects the students choose to create reflect what they cherish in their lives.
“This is my handicapped dog. His name is Takini, which means survivor in Lakota. I choose him because he is very dear to me. He is named so because he has endeavored a broken back, and is one of the three puppies to survive out of eleven, eight of which died. This is the reason I choose him," Tekuani Maestas, a student at Red Cloud Indian School wrote.
The hallway display full of vibrant colors attracts the attention of all who walk past. Students created an array of work with colored pencils, watercolors, and digital cameras. The students’ "special objects" ranged from jewelry, mementos and old artifacts, to students’ favorite drinks, sports equipment and toys.
“I think that some of the similarities in the work between the schools are an interest in pop culture and what's going on right now in the world. Differences would be the forms of media used because the art program at Red Cloud is much smaller and less material and medias are used,” Ms. Jacobs said.
An Upper School chapel dedicated to Red Cloud Indian School took place Tuesday, February 28. A formal exchange of the artwork produced took place between Ms. Jacobs and Ms. Westcott. Upper School students gave reflections on their time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the summer of 2016. Ms. Ellyn Stewart, broadcast studio director and broadcast journalism teacher, and Dr. William Mottolese, chair of the English Department, gave speeches on their experiences with Red Cloud.
“I hope that through Chapel we will be able to start a conversation between different people that will develop slowly over time. I hope that we begin to develop a relationship and get more people involved with our school,” said Ms. Jacobs of the Red Cloud School.