Flashback: Art imitates death: Student project calls attention to genocide across the globe

Art imitates death: Student project calls attention to genocide across the globe

Livingston Daily
by Wayne Peal
November 21, 2012

  Sophomore CJ Blagborne discusses the effects of genocide with the class and Senior and presenter Deepika Schild.

Sophomore CJ Blagborne discusses the effects of genocide with the class and Senior and presenter Deepika Schild.

It's art - and science, math, English and social studies - with a message.
Students at Kensington Woods High School recently took part in a One Million Bones event that served as partial culmination of a monthslong study of genocide throughout the world.

One Million Bones is a national social arts project calling attention to civilian victims of armed conflict in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including Iran, Iraq and Pakistan.

At the event, students created and fired bones of clay to represent past and present victims of genocide, but the topic had been incorporated in various other classes since the beginning of the school year. Project lessons were designed to be taught by students themselves, with assistance from teachers if needed.

"In English, for instance, students dealt with issues of empathy," said Jessie MacGonigal Pratt, director of educational programming at Kensington Woods. "They read about what is going on in Darfur (a war-torn region of the Sudan where more than 50,000 people have died in the past decade, many of starvation) and tried to put themselves in shoes of the people there."

Kensington Woods art teacher Mara Magyarosi is the project's state coordinator.

"What we'd like to do is bring this to schools throughout Michigan," said Magyarosi, who became involved with the organization last year while completing her studies as the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Nationally, this school year's events will culminate with an April "bone laying" ceremony at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

A similar event is planned locally within the next few weeks.

"We're looking at the courthouse lawn (in downtown Howell) or maybe here at the campus," Pratt said.

All 135 Kensington Woods students took part in the One Million Bones event, with members of the school's Art Honors Society serving as hosts. Students created 1,463 bones.

  Students working on their bones while talking to teacher Ian Zang.

Students working on their bones while talking to teacher Ian Zang.

Each of the handmade bones generates a $1 contribution to the global humanitarian agency CARE from the Bezos Family Foundation, which honors the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Donations assist CARE projects in Central Africa.

Kensington Woods is a charter high school on the Cleary University campus in Genoa Township.

Additional information on the One Million Bones project is available at www.onemillionbones.org.