SpeakUp "classroom time, not killing time!"

 

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Classroom time, not killing time!

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2. BA TEXTILE DESIGN JASMINE LÜTHOLD LUCERNE UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES AND ARTS MODULE: SPEAK UP 2017 SPECIALISATION: SILKSCREEN & DIGITAL PRINT LECTURER: BRIGITT EGLOFF & SUZAN CURTIS

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TASK & APPROACH In this SpeakUp module the task was to use fabric design as a medium for personal protest. Through my design I was asked to address a particular social issue, both in terms of content and aesthetics. It was meant to be about ME and MY TIME, my dedication, my resistance, my attitude, and my provocation. From subversion to open protest, anything was possible. Based on the issue I chose, I had to determine the context in which the fabrics was to be used. I had to develop a design theme, materiality and colour range, as well as dimensions and function of the textile. In September 2016 I went with PUSH, a pilot project of the Lucerne University of applied sciences and arts, to Chios in Greece. There we worked with the Swiss organisation BAAS (be aware and share). Since February 2016, BAAS has been active on the Greek island of Chios - one of the major gateways on a refugees‘ route to Europe. In the begining they assisted with food, first aid and emergency support to those arriving on the coast of the island. The European Union (EU) reached an agreement with Turkey on 18 March 2016, which should lead to fewer people reaching Europe to apply for asylum. The agreement stipulates in particular that asylum seekers who have used Turkey as a transit country and enter the territory of the EU for the first time through the Greek islands are to be deported back to Turkey. Ideally, for each Syrian person who has been expelled from a Greek island back to Turkey, another Syrian person from Turkey should be resettled in the EU (1: 1 mechanism). This agreement has had consequences on the needs of the refugees, as well on the priorities of BAAS. In May 2016 BAAS decided to engage minors in the refugee camps through educational programming and youth work. The Right to Education is a human right, but in many places in the world education is not accessible. The education and youth project „Refugee Education Chios“ was born and is now running three institutions for children and youth between the ages of 6 and 22, managed by international volunteers. During our stay we assisted with art related workshops for the children, such as painting, handicraft work, bookbindinding and silkprinting. Although our stay with PUSH took only two weeks, I really enjoyed my time spent with the children and I often think back on this experience. I would like to raise awareness for this issue and encourage people to volunteer and donate to assist refugees. My idea was to print twenty T-Shirts for the BAAS community. BAAS can sell them on their website, ensuring the proceeds go directly to them. On the T-Shirts there should be a design which represents the „Right to education“ to increase the awareness of this issue. Several collaborations have emerged during the project. Children of a primary school class from Hohfuri have designed funny fingerprint drawings for the t-shirts. In addition, I wanted to involve the refugee children and youth in Chios. With Claire Chapelier from BAAS I developed a project in which children at the three institutions painted three murals in their school courtyard and their classroom. Right: My moodboard and the primary colours for my project.

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DESIGN IDEA & PROCESS Initally I invited my neighbours‘ kids to paint with me. What could be a more obvious advocate for the „Right to education“ than the children designs? I worked primarily with the handprints of the children, put them on different layers and printed them digitally on fabric samples. In the end, the design had a frightening impression to me, so I dissmised the design as I wanted the tone of the design to be more playful.

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While the refugees were worn out by the insecurity of their future, non-transparent asylum procedures and deplorable conditions in the camps, we witnessed a great need amongst the children for a daily structure, possibilities to learn and regular social interaction. BAAS pursues two main goals with this project: first, we offer a safe space to the children, where they can rediscover what it means to be a child. The careful guidance in learning, playing and common activities gives them their innocence back, which they cannot find in the daily fight for survival in the camps. Second, language and concentration as well as motor and cognitive skills are being developed through English, mathematics and changing art classes, which stimulate the imagination of the children and youth. While brainstorming ideas I designed this tree that grows out of a pencil. It should communicate that education goes hand in hand with creativity. I transfered the design via silkscreen on a cotton fabric and used the Iris technique to make the tree more lively. When I asked people what message the tree symbol could mean, several people thought the project could be about deforestation. Therefore so it was not the right design to deliver my message and also not the tone I wanted for my project. My workboard in the first few week of the project.

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The fingerprint is such a strong symbol as nobody has the same fingerprint; it‘s a symbol of indivdualism. But it also can have a negative signification. Criminals must give their fingerprints in the event of a criminal offense. Because of this twofold symbolism, I wanted to work with this feature. Out of the fingerprints of my neighbours‘ kids and myself, I drew some animals. The result, however, was not satisfactory. The drawings appeared funny but one can see that they are not made by a child. It would be much more interesting to see what the imagination of a child could make out of these fingerprints.

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COLLABORATION: PRIMARY SCHOOL HOHFURI Ms. Berg, a teacher of the primary school Hohfuri in Bülach, gave me the opportunity to discuss fingerprints with 7-year-old children. I prepared several papers on which the fingerprints were arranged differently. In a first step, the children were to let their imagination run wild, they could draw around and in the fingerprints. Most of the children started drawing right away, only a few children wondered what they were going to do. After the first session, we made a short game with the children, in which many animal pictures were involved. Afterwards, the children could continue drawing for a second time. The subject of the class was dinosaurs at the time, so many children were inspired by them.

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SCREEN PRINTING & PRODUCT After the difficult decision of figuring out which fingerprint drawings will be used, the process went on in screen printing. In order to point out the human right „right to education“, the following words were printed on the t-shirt „Human right - Article 26“. The article 26 contains the following: „(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.“ The article next to the fingerprint drawings seems very juxtaposed, perhaps leading someone to guess that the article has something to do with children. The article 26 on the T-shirt is intended to make people curious, hopefully they will even look up the law online.

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My Manifesto - Classroom time, not killing time! We are children from a foreign land. We have been given a new label: refugees. But we prefer to call ourselves schoolchildren. In the country we‘ve come from, we lived in a war zone. We had to deal with the daily threat of bombs and gunfire. If we had continued to do this its likely we would not be alive today. So we left our homes, our friends and our pets… and we left our schools. Now we have this label: refugees… and we are no longer called schoolchildren. But why can’t we be both refugees and schoolchildren? Just because we are new here doesn’t mean we have to be treated differently. We want to continue being schoolchildren doing all those things we normally do, such as being curious, asking questions and using our imagination. They say we could become a ‘lost generation’. They say we could end up ‘killing time’ on the streets because we don’t have anything else to do… They say we may even reach adulthood without ever going to school again. Being in a classroom would give us hope that we have a future worth preparing for. Being on the streets means being vulnerable, having no education and no hope. So please allow us to be both refugees and schoolchildren. As a refugee, a fingerprint becomes a symbol of being governed and monitored. As a schoolchild, a fingerprint becomes an expression of creativity and individuality.

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COLLABORATION: REFUGEE EDUCATION CHIOS With Claire Chapelier from BAAS I developed a project to involve the refugee children and youth in Chios where the children painted different murals in their school courtyard and classroom. The children were asked the following questions: - What is your favorite subject at school? - What do you like about school? - What is fun at school? - What does education mean to you? Twenty unique t-shirts for the organization BAAS were created with five screens using the Iris screen printing technique. BAAS will sell them this year on their website, ensuring the proceeds go directly to them. The mural project has been running with all classes in the three BAAS institutions. The 15-20 years old from the Vial camp decided to create a huge graffitti piece in their school courtyad. They wrote „Love to LEARN“.

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Left: The 15-20 years old from the Vial camp worked on a wall in one of the classrooms. They made big „comic bubbles“ with quotes about education they found and like. 12-14 years old children from both camps made their own stencils for the mural circles in the courtyard. The courtyard was already painted for the most part, there were still eight circles left regarding the theme of education.

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For the final exhibition of this module I printed three of the circles using inkjet printing on woolen cloths. The nature of the wool complements the structure of the wall, and the fabrics will always remind me of my time as a volunteer in Chios. I am now more aware of the importance of getting hands-on experience as a volunteer. It helped me to understand the true issues which refugees face on the field. I hope that my project will insipre others to get involved as well in concrete aid. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the contributors to this project, i.e. BAAS (be aware and share) and the primary school Hohfuri in Bülach, Switzerland.

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