Artist Comes to York
Thanks to a grant given by the Alliance Française in Boston, by the parent group here at YMS and by an anonymous donor, the entire 7th grade had the opportunity to meet with and to ask questions of two amazing francophone (French speaking) artists. This was in conjunction with their unit on immigration and refugees. The artists spoke about how art can be a common language, helping to unit people of different cultures and backgrounds to connect with their community. This is especially important for those arriving to countries where they do not know the language spoken. Such was the case, in variant degrees, for these two artists
The artists also discussed what exactly is a “Mainer,” an important topic in a time where our state is experiencing a rapid growth of new arrivals or “New Mainers.” These new arrivals to our beautiful state, 90% of whom are French speaking, need our help to find community thus finding a sense of belonging. Our students are our future and we now hope after this experience, they feel empowered to help our New Mainers do so.
Both artists stressed to our students the importance of learning a another language and how that can change you as a person and your view of the world. With the influx of immigrants to Maine, the need to know another language is ever so great, especially the ability to speak French. There is so much we can do to help our new citizens of Maine feel welcome, especially if we speak their language.
These artists, Orson Horchler (Pigeon) from France and Titi de Baccarat, an asylum seeker from Gabon, not only shared their experiences of being “new” to this country and our state with the 7th grade, but they worked closely with BOTH the 7th and 8th grade French students to produce some art inspired by the song and month long study of “On écrit sur les murs.” The pop song shares the same theme of hope and a better world through spreading messages via art and writings of graffiti on walls throughout the world by our world’s future: our Youth.
Although not completely finished, our song influenced graffiti wall is amazing! During the time with the artists, the French students illustrated French words of their choosing, inspired by the song. The words were drawn on cardstock then cut out by the students themselves to form stencils. The artists assisted their work, then took the word cut outs and spray painted the French students’ messages permanently on a wall here at the middle school. Before the school year ends, French students will put their final mark on the messages by adhering their hand prints within the mural/graffiti wall. These students also created portraits of fellow students to simulate the work done by Pigeon throughout the state in his New Mainers project. These came out great too.
You can learn more about the artists by clicking the links below.