Sunday, July 5, 2015

Kids' Guernica at Tutti Frutti School in Brussels

Brussels, 30 June 2015

Savina Tarsitano, founder of the Creativity and Motion Project and Ambassador of the art project Third Paradise/ Rebirth by Michelangelo Pistoletto and Cittadellarte. Coordinator of the Kids’ Guernica project.
The tree of love is born at Tutti Frutti.
The children wanted to share their message of love, a storm of hearts, flowers exploding across the canvas. Aeroplanes and helicopters drop flowers instead of bombs or guns. A great tree, the tree of love, stands in the middle of the canvas, providing love and peace for the whole world. The great Picasso-style eye is the sun which illuminates the Earth and all humans. For the child, peace is represented through love in the simplicity of his language. I have coordinated several workshops in different countries, but this was the first time I worked with small children (aged 4-5 years old); the challenge was at once captivating and enormous. Children, through their simplicity, observe the world around them with love, and after a year, they very much understood the importance of their work: that war is ‘not a nice thing’. The result of the canvas is a true explosion of love and peace, proving the strength of their feelings and efforts such as that of working on the same surface together and towards a common goal.

The workshop was put together of moments shared between different classes, disciplines and languages. In my “Art and Expo”, “Art and Languages” and “Extraordinary People” classes we have studied the great artists, particularly the Guernica by Picasso, and discussed the ideas of peace, war, and a better world. We travelled across cultures and the world to better understand the Kids’ Guernica project. We started to introduce the children to values such as understanding, solidarity, sharing, friendship and respect by working together on the same project on one same canvas. For children of this age, it is so difficult to share things like paints and space, but this way the Kids’ Guernica project also teaches respect, cooperation, a real-life concept of peace and friendship in real life. For me, this experience has been wonderful because you can learn to view the world the way children do. As Picasso once wrote, “All children are artists”. I am thrilled that the school and teachers accepted to take on the Kids’ Guernica Project and to share this unique experience together.
Patricia Pitisci, founder and director of Tutti Frutti Language School for Children, tells of the unravelling of the project at her school.
At the end of the school year 2013-2014
The Kids’ Guernica Project started off with Savina’s proposal to me at the office, and who then took on its coordination.
At a first sight, I didn’t know what the project was or how it would work; it seemed a faraway and vague idea. But the excitement of starting a new project at school that was harmonized with our values and culture swept me away and made me give a positive answer to Savina’s request.
I have the Headmaster’s hat but I also wear a Teacher’s hat.
From the beginning, as a philosophy and linguistic games teacher, I wanted to start the conversation with the children by introducing the topic of war. I must emphasize that we are dealing with small children here; my philosophy and linguistic games classes (in French) are for the 3rd years at our kindergarten (meaning children of about 5 years-old). This is why I went for an interactive session, where the experience, past and history of each child could be presented. I chose to avoid any confrontational or moralizing approach.
First, I gave them a moment to observe Picasso’s work. On their own, the children expressed their thoughts and found the painting “sad, strange; it’s like they are fighting. There are soldiers.” This way, I could approach the theme of the day by asking if they had ever heard anyone talking about war. It was incredible. Each child was able to speak of a grandfather, great uncle, cousin, neighbour or family friend who had been lost at war. What made an impression on them above all was that they could never know the person who had been lost, and never would. Even at such a young age, children are aware of something as inescapable as loss. Secondly, they were able to put forth the wounds and pain conflict causes.
Next, I asked them to draw a message to other children, a mission which they took to heart. I then also realized that we could carry on working on awareness of what peace then was.
In September, the beginning of the school year in Belgium, we presented the project to the entire teaching staff of the different sections of the kindergarten and after-school programme. Several of the teachers then also wanted to attempt to explore this new path. Examples:
During her “Encountering the Imaginary” class (in French), Milena Bochet spent some time on the project with her 2nd and 3rd year children (four- and five-years-old respectively).
Patrick Maher also participated on the project in English and only with children in their second year.
Lorenza Cullet got the children in her Creative Workshop (in French) involved (also four- and five-years-old).
Rita Valcke also had her students in her after-school Dutch class of 9-11-year-old get involved and become familiar with it all!
First the children worked individually, and then together on large posters. At the age of four or five, it is quite the challenge to find the capacity to think along communal lines and create an illustration together!
The little ones were very productive. At our St Nicolas party (a traditional holiday in Belgium celebrated on 6th December), we exhibited our first round of works of art.
At the end of February, we received a large canvas from Thailand. The distance travelled impressed us children and adults as much as the size of the canvas!
The arrival of this canvas really gave us the feeling that the project was taking shape and becoming more and more concrete. Moreover, I must confess, the canvas’ excessive size really drove home how big the project was!
In April on our trip to Calabria (in the south of Italy), we had honour to meet the original founder of the Kids’ Guernica, Mr Professor Abe and his representative, Mr Professor Takuya Kaneda. This also helped us further understand the project and its genesis.
The Calabrian school’s head and staff welcomed us warmly. North and South Europe reunited by way of a giant canvas. Calabria became a meeting point for Savina, Ambassador of the Third Paradise Project by Michelangelo Pistoletto, working in parallel since 2006 with Kids’ Guernica. Kids’ Guernica and the Rebirth project come together to create a new canvas. Ambassadors of Third aradise/Rebirth Francesco Saverio Teruzzi, Savina Tarsitano and professor Takuya Kaneda makes the fruit of this new collaboration concrete by drawing The Third Paradise on the giant Picasso/ Guernica canvas, in cooperation with the Calabrian students and teachers, which will go on a trip around the world for several schools and many children to contribute to its completion. The first strokes were drawn in Italy, next in Cuba and Asia. The beginning of a long journey…
Upon our return from Italy, we plunged ourselves into the reproduction of the artwork from earlier in the year on the giant canvas. The children were mad with joy to be able to take their shoes off before drawing!
This project certainly presented several real challenges: it was a collaboration of multiple hands and multiple classes, of children and adults. On top of that, we needed the sky to be agreeable. The school being a small building possessing no large space inside, we were to make do with the garden. However, Belgian weather is rather random. We were tributes of the clouds!
At the end of the year, the whole school got to see the canvas in all its colours. The loosely guided work evoked the interest of other teachers who came to give a helping hand (Yvonne, German teacher; Margaux and Sahib, English teachers…).
We rolled our sleeves up to unveil the canvas at Tutti Frutti’s annual school party on 7th June. This time, we welcomed the Italian delegation from Calabria, the Istituto Comprensivo Perri-Pitagora. We have the expression in Italian, ‘Da cosa nasce cosa’, or ‘From one thing another is born’. Simply put, one encounter led to another, and that one encounter led to a new project.
Now we are in the process of adding the final strokes of paintbrush. Tomorrow, we will toast our Tutti Frutti canvas in an explosion of heart!
In a few words, by daring to create (and transverse difficulties), one can indeed experience a communal project that spreads a message of peace.

With pride and sincerity,
Patricia Pitisci

Founder and director

May-June, 2015  An amzing new Kids' Guernica Peace painting was created by small children at Tutti Frutti School in Brussels. They called it "the Tree of Love."

Big challenge to coordinate a new workshop with children from 3 to 6 years old, but they are so wonderful, as Picasso said: “any child is an artist”, it is really true. It is a fantastic experience, and the children are so proud to contribute with their peace message for a better world. Teaching Italian at Patricia Tutti Frutti School in Brussels, I had the opportunity to underline how it is important Art and Education, and how children appreciate art and languages. Teaching a foreign language through art is really a big challenge but so full of emotions and new energy. The professors (Lorenza, Milena, Patrick, Rita, and Patricia) involved in the project worked hardly during one year in explaining to children, through a simple language, Picasso’s work, his main painting Guernica and the entire project. 
Workshop Coordinator, Savina Tarsitano