Art students transform racist literature into inspirational pieces

Senior Quade Hamrell symbolizes unity with his paper dolls surrounding the world. Hamrell used a styrofoam ball as the structure for the papier-mâché world.

Alysha Camacho

Senior Quade Hamrell symbolizes unity with his paper dolls surrounding the world. Hamrell used a styrofoam ball as the structure for the papier-mâché world.

By Kristen Hanning, Great Falls HS, Great Falls, Mont.

“N*****!”

The dynamics of a single derogatory term proves the power of one word.

This word alone ignites discomfort in society, resulting in the brutality of some and the oppression of others. Imagine a persuasive piece of literature centered around derogatory dynamics in order to advocate the superiority of a sole race.

Christine Baroch’s senior Advanced Placement English class had the opportunity to do just this. Students were given excerpts from the “White Man’s Bible” and the task of turning them into a beautiful piece of art. James McGary, however, decided to accentuate the negativity of the text. “I tried to convey the emotions felt by those who are damaged by this offensive literature,” said McGary.

McGary’s photo of negative text overlying a Black American girl crying, holds a more metaphorical meaning. “You’ll notice that she is in color, but the words and the background behind the words are black and white. The message I tried to convey is her color stands out while the words are unsaturated,” said McGary.

Although his portrait embodies more substance, McGary recognizes the controversial aspects of his work, “I can understand how people would be offended, but I think they are looking too much at the surface and not seeing the meaning of my work. However, the controversy does bring to light the negativity of the words,” said McGary.

Other students used physical excerpts from the “White Man’s Bible” to create a work of art. Amanda Mack utilized her talents of folding paper cranes to create her transformation of hate. “If you make a thousand paper cranes and string them together, apparently you get a wish,” said Mack.

Mack modeled this practice creating a 10-crane mobile. Mack said, “My project symbolizes making a wish to eradicate hate–even though it is just one percent of a wish. Curing hate with love instead of more hate. That is what I liked about the project.”

Jordan Jenkins focused on the contemplative aspects of the project. “I would say I turned something hateful into a thought provoking piece of art,” said Jenkins. Jenkins project featured framed pressed flowers surrounded by some of the friendlier words in the text such as “creative,” “stories” and “equal.” “I press flowers all year and I was really excited to use them for once in something I felt was impactful,” said Jenkins.

I would say I turned something hateful into a thought provoking piece of art.”

— Jordan Jenkins

Aside from the aesthetically pleasing aspect of Jenkins project, the underlying inspiration of her art piece is individuality. “I wanted people to know that we are all people but we all have different experiences and stories that make us who we are. Those different experiences shouldn’t make people hate who we are,” said Jenkins.

Creativity was not restricted to tangible expressions. Michael Miller exercised his experience in multimedia to create a music video with the lyrics in the “White Man’s Bible.” “I looked up top 20 inspirational songs and Celine Dion’s song did not have the words I needed because it needed to come from the White Man’s Bible,” said Miller who used John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

The completed projects are exhibited in the display case on second floor. Baroch said “I hope people do have the time to stop and look because it is more than an art project; it’s a statement.”

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