Fifth-grade students recently watched a TED Talk entitled “Can Art Amend History?” by Artist Titus Kaphar, as part of their history study of slavery. Kaphar makes paintings and sculptures that wrestle with the struggles of the past while speaking to the diversity and advances of the present. According to TED, “In an unforgettable live workshop, Kaphar takes a brush full of white paint to a replica of a 17th-century Frans Hals painting, obscuring parts of the composition and bringing its hidden story into view. There's a narrative coded in art like this, Kaphar says. What happens when we shift our focus and confront unspoken truths?”
After watching the presentation, fifth-grade student Macy Rutledge was very inspired by Kaphar’s ability to help others “shift their gaze” and understand diversity and differences. In talking with Macy, she shared with me that she thought his approach of getting someone to “shift their gaze” on something was an approach that she could use with some frustration she has experienced repeatedly.
An avid and accomplished horseback rider, Macy often finds herself frustrated by the lack of understanding her peers have about her chosen sport. Horseback riding takes commitment, patience, strength, and perseverance. Macy decided to create a video to help others understand the importance and difficulty of her passion. Thank you, Macy, for helping us all “shift our gaze.”
NOTE: Kaphar is the co-founder of NXTHVN (Next Haven), an arts incubator in New Haven. The core aim of NXTHVN according to their website is “two-fold: to build an alternative model of art mentorship and career advising through a specially designed curriculum, and to simultaneously set into motion significant opportunities for emerging local entrepreneurs.”