Saturday, July 30, 2016


This quilt was created in 2015, but the theme may be even more relevant today. In June I decided to send Byron Kim a note of "thanks" for his inspiration and just this week I was thrilled to see that he responded with this message!             

"Dear Amy,
Thank you so much for your interest in my work and for passing it on to your students. Isn't it crazy how much consequence the color of our skin creates? But most importantly thank you for being a teacher. It's paradoxically the most important job in our culture and one of the least appreciated. I hope you will stick with it. And I hope the semester has started well.
 Yours, Byron"

Our Beautiful Colors!
One Square Each Student - 
Painted or Paper Color Matched to Their Skin

by Korean American artist Byron Kim
     Thank you to the many supportive Harrington volunteers who stitched and hung our final quilt, which we are calling “Spectrum of Humanity at Harrington”. Thanks, also goes to our custodial and office staff for their generosity of time and expert laminating skills. ~ Amy Aker, Art Specialist
     I saw this painting at the The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and immediately thought of my Harrington students’ common request for paint that is “skin colored”. Mixing skin tones with paint is a lesson in itself and a very difficult thing to accomplish, especially for young children. With that in mind, I decided to try making a mosaic of our own. We all see color differently and we learn color recognition throughout our entire life. Color is learned! Our skin color has a great deal of variation too, so I told my students that they should aim for a color within the range of what they saw on their hand. Our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students mixed the primary colors; red, yellow and blue with different amounts of white to create a close match to their skin color as they saw it. We used the principle of color opposites to achieve this. Kindergarteners and 1st graders, found a colored piece of paper, which they saw as their closest match. I’m so pleased with the mosaic effect of our efforts! We made a beautiful mixed media artwork together! 

     A bit about “Synecdoche” (pronounced Sin-ec-ticky) ~ Journalist, Blake Gopnik of The Washington Post describes this work as a “radical, abstract work portraying the racial and cultural “mosaic” of modern America. The piece consists of a grid of 429 uniform panels of color, each panel a single shade of pink, brown or tan, meant to represent the skin tone of different people who sat for Kim… Kim’s piece undermines the tradition of Old Master portraitists by proving traditional portraits don’t show theinside of people—instead they only reveal patches of skin—telling us nothing about the person… The literary term "synecdoche" refers to a figure of speech that takes a part of something for the whole -- saying "all hands on deck" … "Synecdoche" raises questions about how any picture could ever act as shorthand for the world's impossible complexity… Kim began this piece in 1991 and declared it an open-ended work, which will continue to have portraits added to it.” Synecdoche is an acquisition of the National Gallery of Art ~    


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