Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Original Artgirl Island

Isn't this title the best? Published in 1935, the Secret Museum of Mankind contains an impressive collection of grainy photos of people from all over the word, some of which seem mysterious and exotic even today. Tattoos, gravity-defying headdresses, impossibly stretched's all in there.
When I was in 4th grade, I remember the first assignment we were given in our Geography class. I don't recall exactly which South Pacific island group we were studying, but the young girl's name was Kira. She lived with her family in a thatched roof hut that had a crushed coral pathway leading to the beach. She wove palm fronds to make mats to sleep on. She collected shells and coconuts and swam in the ocean. Her skin was smooth and brown and her long hair was shiny black. Her life was perfect, carefree. I wanted to live on an island like Kira...I wanted to BE Kira. The single drawback was the crushed coral path that would surely ruin my feet, but I read that the soles of Kira's feet were accustomed to the hot sand and rough rocks, and I had faith mine would acclimate, also.
Our assignment was to recreate Kira's dwelling and island. How perfect...I would make a miniature DIORAMA! Weren't dioramas just the coolest things when we were kids? I threw myself into the assignment. I wove together raggedy strips of green construction paper to create the roof and sleeping mats. I covered a cut-down oatmeal box with brown paper to make the hut. It seems like I tried to glue down some sand (where would I have gotten sand?) around the hut. Listing construction-paper palm trees surrounded the hut and I defined the ocean with a blue marker.
This assignment made me so happy I decided I LOVED geography. I could not wait for the next chapter and my next artistic inspiration. But the next section was about a little boy who lived in Finland, in a normal looking house. Ack! A boy! Ice and snow! A boring house! A picture of him in a sauna with other boys! Double ack! That's when I realized it wasn't geography I was the notion of living on an island paradise.

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