By Lyndsie Kiebert
Countless interpretations of what it means to be human graced the walls of the Sandpoint High School library Wednesday evening, displaying for the community how local youth view an essential part of that human experience: their rights.
Wednesday marked the opening of the 12th annual Art for Human Rights showcase, an art show put together by the Pend Oreille Arts Council, the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force and SHS art teachers. The room was at capacity as soon as the reception was set to begin. Students, some with their parents in tow, displayed and discussed their artwork, all inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Declaration, adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and drafted by a committee headed by Eleanor Roosevelt, is made up of 30 Articles outlining human rights. SHS art teacher Heather Guthrie, who has been helping facilitate the Art for Human Rights show all 12 years, said introducing students to the Declaration is not only a valuable history lesson, but also an exercise in self-exploration.
“I love to prompt my students to consider that there are many points of view surrounding just about any topic that affects humanity,” she said. “Considering the Articles is such a great lesson in learning to consider one’s values and create an emerging understanding of global ethics.”
Guthrie said combining the deep thinking prompted by the Articles with art creates a platform where students shine.
“I am always in awe of the thoughtfulness and care my students bring to their work,” she said.
BCHRTF board member Linda Navarre said the Declaration gets local students considering international issues — not just those right in front of them.
“It extends their world view outside of the city limits, or county limits,” Navarre said.
SHS art student Angelina Peebles chose Article 19, which addresses the human right to freedom of opinion and expression. She used acrylic paint, pastel paper and watercolor in her piece, titled “Modern Day Witch Hunt.” The woman depicted in Peebles’ work has purple hair, tattoos, piercings and a Pentagram on her shirt — a representative of today’s alternative, agnostic culture. Her hands are bound and the background is blue, meant to represent water. Surrounding the woman are headlines from historic, witch trial-era news stories, tying past to present.
“It represent(s) how everyone has the right to believe what they want, say what they want and listen to what they want,” Peebles said.
Guthrie said the Art for Human Rights showcase is but a microcosm of a larger movement, one where current events “create contemplation in the hearts and minds of the young artists” as their understanding of human rights grows.
“This exhibit is a magnificent platform to measure global growth and tolerance,” Guthrie said. “It’s all really good stuff.”
View the Art for Human Rights showcase in the SHS library during regular school hours until Jan. 30. Check in at the main office to receive a guest pass.
Students from Bonners Ferry and Priest River Lamanna High Schools will showcase their art, also based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at the Columbia Bank Community Plaza in Sandpoint starting Jan. 25 with a reception at 5:30 p.m.
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