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The Art project that made history!

This week’s blog is written by our friends Matt and Laura Grundler. They interviewed David Wall, Technology Consultant for Pembina Trails School Division in Winnipeg, Canada, about the history making human rights art project that he helped organise, and why it can never stop.

Instant connections – it’s amazing how our journey as art educators, active on Twitter, has brought us in contact with the most amazing people. People working hard to pull together phenomenally meaningful arts integration education projects.

Recently, through Creatubbles, we had the opportunity to connect with David Wall via Facetime from our home in Texas. It was one of those passionate conversations where everyone is speaking in the same terms, nodding their heads, and literally hugging the screen.

David, and his community in Pembina Trails, just pulled off the amazing Pembina Trails Human Rights Project! Around 15,000 children created art on a 8 x10 inch panel depicting an article from the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The panels were laid out, one by one, in a football stadium to create a humongous human rights collage. We interviewed him to find out more.

Where did this amazing vision for a collaborative art exhibition develop?

I had been working on a proposal with Anne McGillivray, Law Prof at the University of Manitoba, and Alan Schroeder from Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning, to bring rights based education and curricula to every school division in Manitoba.

At the same time, I was also aware of the work of Katherine Covell on rights based education, and the Human Rights National Museum was being built in Winnipeg.

With these as motivators, the program department staff of Pembina Trails came together and created the Human Rights project. I wanted to embed the principles of rights based education in our school district, and the easiest way to do that was via an art based project. It was almost a Trojan Horse – to promote understanding, engage the youth, and send the message that listening to students voices is vital to developing their individual creativity. More importantly it leads to them becoming rights aware and respectful global citizens.

How do you plan to keep the project moving forward as an ongoing creative mission?

Moving this initiative forward is the key component to this project. The art installation (as most artists profess) has a beginning, middle and end… but this cannot end. Rather than a static art installation, it must become an ongoing conversation and a living body work to carry the voices of our children.

The work has already been viewed around the world – from Beirut to Argentina. People are amazed at the quality and depth of understanding in the student’s work. Predrag Stackic from Serbia, the creator of the Universal Human Rights Logo (see it in the video below), has supported this endeavor, even submitting a piece of art himself.

One Pembina Trails student was so affected by the project, she has decided to turn this into a global movement. Loizza Aquino, 15, (who won the Manitoba Young Humanitarian Award in 2014) is now challenging children everywhere to create artistic representations of the social issues that matter most to them. She wants to get students worldwide to post their art to Not only will this push children’s amazing creative work into the stratosphere of rights learning, but it becomes a starting point for dialogue to make real social change.

With fantastic support from yourselves, Shannon Miller, and many others from around the world, we hope to demonstrate the deep passion that children feel for human rights and social issues, and give them a voice.

Why did you decide collaborate with Creatubbles?

When the project was first envisioned, it quickly split into two distinct portions; the static event on the field, and the living electronic galleries. The vision for the living galleries morphed every time we talked about it. The first idea was of 13,000 tablets displaying digital art through an interactive web platform. We were turned away from many well known tablet producers, as no one had the devices available for a venture of this scale.

We were almost out of ideas when one of our amazing art instructors, Dawn Knight, told us about Creatubbles. A child safe/friendly platform for exhibiting children’s art. When we had our first meeting with one of the founders, Paul Greenberg, he pretty much answered all of our questions with “we can do that!”. No matter what our request, or whether it was part of the platform’s functionality, the next email from Paul was always ‘we already have that up and running for you’. Creatubbles has this awesome vision of inspiring creativity, and the possibilities for using the platform are seemingly endless.

Why do you feel the work you do for children’s creativity is important?

It’s so simple… Creativity is thinking! And if you can think – therefore you are!

We have to understand that learning is personal. Although we may be engaged or influenced by others, when learning takes place it is an individual experience. The freedom to be independently creative or self guided, even through collaboration, is what activates learning.

We understand that students quickly learn to use technology as extensions of themselves. Implicit within my approach to learning, is the seamless integration of media resources into the life of the user, to extend their creative life.

I have long been an advocate of inquiry learning projects, encouraging students to become agile learners. Creativity promotes engagement, responsibility and respect… the act of self publishing to Creatubbles, or other learner safe sites, creates pride and interaction on a global scale building efficacy and resiliency in all our citizens.

After our conversation with David we were excited to help grow project. It’s easy to get involved. Introduce children to the articles of Children’s Rights, hold a discussion, and encourage them to create their own work of art on the right they feel most strongly about.

We sat down with our own children and read through some of the articles. What a good discussion it made. They were sad to know that not all kids have these access to the same rights as they do so they made creations about Article 27: The right to food, clothing, a safe place to live. Owen painted shelter, MacQuarrie painted clothing and Tatum (who just turned three) painted trees and fruit. Kids will always amaze you, they are passionate, caring and their imaginations are endless. We encourage you to share this project, make art and add it to it to the Kids4Action gallery.

Wishing you creative experiences.

Laura & Matt Grundler


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