I’ve been teaching our Senior Seminar class at Curry College for several years and something that I’ve always tried to work into our semester is a service project. Each year we have participated in “Postcards from the Edge”, a project dealing with AIDS awareness (https://www.visualaids.org/projects/detail/postcards). Although the Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here bookmark project is not necessarily a “service project”, it was very important that my students become aware of the event that took place on Al Mutanabbi Street, as well as the horror presently going on in the world. It was an extremely valuable lesson for them to learn how they can respond to it in their work, and by doing that brings awareness to others.
I am currently hosting “Absence and Presence” in our College gallery, a collection of prints where artists are asked to respond to the 2007 car bombing on Al Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. In addition, I am one of the book artists participating in Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here. Because of my personal connection to the projects, I felt it was important to get my students involved. They were extremely moved after seeing the work in Absence and Presence, and very inspired by the artists statements.
One thing that I found interesting was how connected the students became, not only to the project but also to their actual bookmarks. They did not want to part with them! Having them put 2 bookmarks “out in the world” was also an amazing experience for them, and they came up with some really interesting and creative ways of doing it.
I hope that they will stay involved and informed about the ongoing nature of the project.
Creating bookmarks helped me understand the meaning of the community for Al-Mutanabbi Street. I’m glad I’m part of this bookmark artists group and could show my support to humanity and culture.
– Emily Aronica, class of 2016
My family is all from Ireland, so I grew up hearing stories similar in nature to the bombing that occurred on Al Mutanabbi Street. Something that always strikes me in events like these are the stories of innocent bystanders who get caught in the middle of these tragedies. Taking the life of someone who is unaware, uninvolved or naïve always seems the greatest injustice to me and the most unfortunate aspect of war.
-James McCormack, class of 2016
I’d say in terms of the bookmark project, it was certainly eye opening. Everyone in the class it seemed got really into their bookmark, and it was good to see everyone work towards a goal of creating awareness for such a tragic happening. I’m glad to have been able to take part in creating a piece to spread awareness.
-Melissa Reed, class of 2016
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