One Million Bones Project brings awareness of worldwide genocide to art students at THS
By DEB WUETHRICH
Tecumseh students in Christine Obeid’s art classes are taking part in a national social arts practice called One Million Bones, a large-scale social arts practice using education and hands-on artmaking to raise awareness of genocides and atrocities going on around the world today. Artist Naomi Natale, from New Mexico, plans to take one million clay bones to Washington, D.C. for a display on the National Mall in 2013 to bring a national spotlight to conflicts in Congo, Sudan and Somalia.
“I try to find interesting artists each year in order to teach about the things they are doing,” said Obeid. “I found this project by accident and thought what this woman was doing with these bones would be a perfect sculptural project that also tied in social awareness and current events.”
Art students across the country are taking part, and Obeid plans to ship her students’ pieces to New Mexico when the classes are completed. She said anyone can participate, however, and those who are interested could contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Her original plan was to have one million people each make one bone, even though there have been many more million killed by genocide,” said Obeid. At THS, the project has also become interdisciplinary. “One of the neat things about our doing this class right now is that the students are also studying the Holocaust in history and English,” Obeid said.
Students got to choose what type of a bone they would like to replicate, and looked at models of skeletons, skulls and bones. Obeid said there are some students who also take anatomy in the classes, so the study fits right in with their other classes.
Betsy Wilson chose to make a vertebrae for her project and was smoothing out the design in class on Thursday, April 12.
“We looked at a skeleton, and I just thought it was kind of cool,” she said. “I wanted to make something different that maybe not everybody else would choose.” Wilson said she would like to go to Washington in 2013 to see the completed work, and is definitely learning through the process.
“One of the things is that I think you can make a difference right here at school and raise awareness through this project,” she said.
Adam Napieralski said he chose to fashion a right femur bone in honor of is brother, Dave, an Adrian College graduate who once had to have surgery on his right femur. Napieralski is learning that anybody can make a difference. “Teenagers should try to make a difference in the world,” he said. “I’m also learning patience. I’ve never really been a patient guy, but the more patient you are, the better you will do on the project or anything else in general.”
Suzy Fagan was tackling a full skull and said she just kind of liked them as a subject. Fagan also believes that the project has been eye-opening in several different ways.
“Before this, I didn’t really know that genocide was that much of a problem in the world, but from everything I’m hearing about it, I think it’s cool what the artist is doing.” She said she wouldn’t be able to go to Washington to see the completed work, but planned to keep up with it in other ways. “I’d like to look online to see if there are any pictures of it when it’s finished,” she said.
Natale’s One Million Bones project also accepts donations that benefit several international organizations, including CARE that works in Somalia and the Democratic Repubilc of the Congo. For a five-dollar donation, individuals may have a bone made in their name as well. Visit OneMillionBones.org for more information on how to make a donation.
“I wanted this project to be focused on learning about art activism and how students could make a difference and change the world through their art,” said Obeid. “So far this has been amazing. I have found that high school kids really do care about things going on in the world and in places like the Sudan. They care and they’re really excited about this project.”