One of the many ways that the staff takes part in the process of Tikkun Halev (healing your heart) is through helping students find and pursue their individual talent. Whether it is football, mechanical engineering, or drawing and painting (or a little bit of each), the job of the informal education staff is to guide and encourage this process of self-discovery. Students are constantly urged to share their talents, and between the weekly Village Times and the continual stream of competitions, they are given many occasions to do so. We are awed, time and time again, by the amazing singers and dancers, actors and poets that have blossomed in the lights of the amphitheater. For those students, however, whose passions don’t involve a stage or a field, the opportunity to visibly showcase their skill set with the Village community is infrequent. But they, like all other committed members of this community, deserve to be recognized for their hard work and to feel that special sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from others expressing appreciation for what they’ve achieved— key building blocks in furthering their self-confidence, sense of purpose, and expressive passion.      

Therefore, this past term, we saw the inauguration of the Village Art Exhibition. The show celebrated those students, their self-expression, and their unique achievements in drawing, painting, sewing, and traditional art. The event took place in the Edmond J. Safra Community Center at the rear of the dining hall. Large-scale paintings and pencil drawings hung on free-standing walls, while displays of beaded bands, banana leaf cards, slippers, scarves, and bags in bright prints sat beneath strands of paper stars and twinkling Christmas lights. Students crowded around the work of their peers, filling the space to capacity. They tried on beaded wristbands, excitedly showed their friends the bags they had sewn, and stood thoughtfully in front of paintings.

The event was born out the modern art studio. Each of the paintings that hung on the walls in the community center represented the final project of a member of the Enrichment Year (first year students) or Senior 4 (10th grade, 2nd-year students) Modern Art Enrichment Program. Over the year, the Modern Art students learned and developed skills in the basics of drawing and painting. At the end of the course, each student was asked to think about one memory, idea, place or message that was important to them — something that would be meaningful to express on canvas. Each student drew up a plan and met individually with the Modern Art staff to talk through both the significance of their image and their strategies for visualizing it. Then, came the hours of work. Work that happened, more often than not, in the students’ free hours — before class, after dinner, on weekends, even after their Enrichment Programs had ended. They frequently had to be shooed out for meals, and half of them moved on to a second canvas. Throughout this creative process, they became each other’s instructors, advising one another when a mountain didn’t look quite right, or a blue seemed a bit too light. Like many projects in the Village, what began as one student’s imagination, soon turned into teamwork, and ended in a celebration of their passion and talents. 

Submitted by Isabel Shaw, Modern Art assistant and Long-Term Volunteer (2013)