The Mae Sot Project
The Mae Sot Project in collaboration with Kickstart Art
Foreword to the Mae Sot educational project
We present a constant around which revolves our research and our proposals for children is the awareness with insightful reflection and sparking development within their imaginative sphere.
At the beginning of each educational proposal, we ask the children to close their eyes and let themselves be guided by words that invite activation of their inner selves within their new context. This opens possibilities for practical and creative concrete changes.
We believe that imagination is the main resource to open the way to creative, thoughtful actions. The reading of the French philosopher, Gaston Bachelard has been very inspiring for us:
«Imagination is the very force of psychic production, more than will or the élan vital»
He suggests how powerful imagination is for active reflection. Thought and knowledge about our own reality propels ourselves towards the future as he writes
«Imagination is the faculty of production and speculative faculty».
Our method proposes the idea of allowing the children a process of reflection between theory and practice as a source of consideration to be consciously used in their lives.
This constant dynamic will contribute to continued development of self-esteem, acknowledgment of their own value and form confident relationships of trust with adults.
First Day, This is me
On the first day the idea is to offer to the children of the CDC the opportunity to portray themselves. We paired the children and offer mirrors and requested them to take a few minutes observing themselves and to focus attention on their faces, expressions and other details. We then asked them to paint tempera self-portraits of what they observe as their partner helps with the mirror. Tempera is for its cost effective because of its portability and vivid colors and quick drying nature. This allows the children to highlight details and characteristics in relation to what each of them wanted to convey keeping in mind the value of time spent on their own reflections coupled with thier partners. They take turns.
Second Day, Who do I want to become?
On the second day, we asked the children to play on their previous portrait. Today we asked them to transform it into what they most desired by highlighting one or more elements that they recognized as important and valuable in themselves. For this we covered their original with transparent plastic that left the underneath visible and interacted on it through additional color and recycled materials found in local markets such as: cell-phone keyboards, a wide range of fabrics, buttons, colored string, etc. The idea was to return the beauty and awareness of waste that, in our and their hands transforms into something else, something new.
With various materials available, the children begin to transform their initial portraits. They turned themselves into doctors, soldiers, singers and musicians, strong and muscular people, brides, grooms etcetera. Each of them brought out, through this collage, the characteristic or characteristics that they desire, thus acquiring greater awareness, activating thoughts of self-ability not only in their present, but continuing towards their future.
Third Day, A Leap To My Future Home
On the third day, our reflection expanded by focusing on our own context, particularly on the element of Home. Home intended not only as the physical location, but also as a place where important values are inclusive. Imagining, in what house do I want to live? What would I like to put in it?
It is crucial for us to support each child’s imagination, to ensure that they can articulate their thoughts and dreams, which are explored through our visual projects. This work tangibly engages their memories and dreams. A first step in understanding what each individual wants is to start the process of reflection. We continue with poster scaled tempera works.
Fourth Day, Cityscape
On the fourth day, we imagine the house in the wider context of neighborhoods and these neighborhoods within the city.
The proposed language is always the visual one but, this time, each detail is only in black marker. They drew submarines, airports, bicycles, sanctuaries, churches, schools, trees, roads, hospitals, and many more elements and all these elements developed in each child’s vision of an ideal city in the context created by playing with variable dimensions. The simple line of the black marker brings out precise details, in accordance to each child’s dreams.
Fifth Day, Home is where I can grow free
On the fifth day, we organized previous elements of reflection by realizing a minature house about 2m x 2m x 1m. This physical model represented the culmination of this jourey so it could be tangibly concretely, three dimensionally on view at CDC (Child Development Center) of Mae Sot.
This house was actualized with diverse materials such as: wood, paper, small and giant leaves from the local school park, with tempera accents.
Sixth Day, Citizens Of A New City: The Exhibition
In the school’s hangar of the CDC, on our final day we organized for our protagonist children and for the whole school complex of the CDC an exhibition narrating their living stories. This was the culmination of planning, the processes of research, sharing and learning by our participants.
The idea was to invite local visitors, teachers, and other children from the school to go through the exhibition, engage in curiosity and interact with the children’s installations. It worked.
The whole exhibition all o f a sudden was hit by a summer storm with strong winds that blew away all the installation of tiny and big artworks. In the video below, that documents also that scene, you can notice that after the storm all the kids started to reinstall meticulously the installation giving it another shape, without giving up.