Thursday, November 17, 2011

Artwork: A Prayer for Joy

A Happy and Joyful Being, portrait of a youth from Tanzania, watercolor

A Baha'i Prayer:

O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.

O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Junior Youth Field Trip: The Arts in Gallup

We did a brave thing yesterday. We took 15 junior youth on a field trip to Gallup.

And you might imagine it being a crazy, out-of-hand, lets-never-do-this-again kind of trip….but I was astonished at the level of maturity displayed by the junior youth throughout the four hours. They let their nobility shine as the group learned about various art forms and the ways in which artists make a living.

We first visited the New Mexico Pottery Company, where the junior youth were given a tour of the pottery-making process, from making slip to firing. Then we were treated to a tour of Chester Kahn’s Mural of Light artwork at the Ellis Tanner Trading Post, led by the artist himself.
A little background: The Mural of Light is a painted strip of portraits encircling the inside wall of the trading post. It portrays Navajo leaders beginning with the long walk up to the present. The mural took 7 years to paint, and about 2 weeks per portrait. The portraits were first drawn free hand by Chester based on photos, some of which were in black and white. He then meticulously painted in acrylic and oil, and with incredible life and detail.

Junior Youth from the Querino group watch a demonstration on how to trim a pot and cut off unwanted or excess clay.

A selection of detailed pottery

This design is done completely by hand. The symmetry and straight lines look precise enough to be done by a machine.

A sampling of shapes and designs.

"Horse Hair" pottery. The curly lines are actually made with long horse hairs placed on the wet pottery and fired in the kiln. The horse hair is taken off later, leaving this pattern.

A Junior Youth from the Querino group and a child from a Children's Class in Sanders admiring the pottery.

A junior youth from the Houck group and a child from the Children's Class in Sanders.

Children's Class: Blue Corn Mush Demonstration

After attending a cultural celebration day at Pine Springs High School and watching the Miss Pine Springs contest, where girls share their traditional talents, staff and volunteers at NABI decided to invite the new Miss Pine Springs to a Thursday Children’s Class to share her mush-making skills! The following are pictures and explanations of a demonstration on how to make a traditional Navajo dish: blue corn mush.

Miss Pine Springs scoops out the blue corn meal. She will also add cedar ash to the boiling mixture to increase the blue color of the mush.

This particular Children's Class takes place every Thursday as a part of Thursday community dinner at NABI. The community arrives at 5PM for prayers, then children and junior youth break out into their classes, then all gather again for dinner at 6.

The final product. The ingredients: boiling water, blue corn meal, and cedar ash. Individuals can add their own salt, butter, or sugar after it is served. Blue corn meal can also be made into pancakes.

This activity is part of an ongoing effort in the community to bring cultural education into the Children's Classes and Junior Youth Groups. This endeavor includes asking grandparents to give demonstrations on language, cooking, and storytelling.