WITH exams in full swing, I felt I should write about an art piece that reflects some of the students’ life experiences. As I was looking for an art piece, one of my art pieces came to mind. It is a macramé wall hanging entitled “Walking the same road.” Macramé is the art of knotting. Many teenagers would create colourful wrist bands using macramé knots. I recently noticed that macramé wall hangings have become an element in home décor. More specifically, those centred around a boho design style (full of life, culture and interesting items). While it may look quite intricate, almost anyone can macramé.
The first thing you will notice about the wall hanging is the two figures on the opposite ends. The figures are male and female. I used geometric knots for the male and freeform knots for the female. This technique made the boy appear erect and the girl somewhat curvaceous. They are standing on a bumpy line. This line represents a road. Although they are standing on the same line, the elements both above and beneath them are very different.
I must admit that when I created this piece, the theme and story behind the work was different from how I see it now. One of the great things about making art is how one piece of work can evolve. My new interpretation of this piece is inspired by a painting I saw on social media a few weeks ago. In this painting, a child is sitting at his home computer for an online class. Outside his window, another child who appeared to be less fortunate is standing on a makeshift plinth with a book in his hand trying to follow the lesson. As you look at the painting, you recognise that this lockdown has denied the less fortunate the opportunity for a good education. It brings to light that the home-schooling experience of each child varies. So, while our children write the same exam, several contributing factors will help or hamper the result.
At the top of my wall hanging, there are two curved lines above the heads of the standing figures. These lines represent their homes. Four beads beneath the boy’s right hand create a descending line which supports that hand. The beads used for this part of the wall hanging are the same type of bead used as part of his structure. This correlation suggests that he is part of a family. They create the support system that is keeping his extended right hand in place. His left hand is also extended and is supported by material possessions. He is safe and secure. There is a wall separating the two figures. On the female’s side, we see a different arrangement. The girl’s hands are clasped, and the structures beneath them are unstable. Unlike the boy who had four beads under his hand, she has one smaller bead under her hand. In this case, the bead represents a younger sibling. Instead of parental support, she has sibling responsibilities. There is no solid family structure and her materials are limited. The only thing similar about them is the motif repeated as a mirror image beneath them. In addition to this, the remaining portion beneath their feet represents their roots. Again, we see an example of a strong family structure supporting the boy. However, beneath the girl, there is a blank slate. She is representing the first generation of her family that could potentially attain academic success. So, while they are walking on the same road the opportunities and challenges they encounter are different. One will have to work harder than the other to achieve the same goal.
As we remain anxious about the outcome of these examinations and we set expectations for our children, we should be mindful that it is not an even playing field. Although many students are taught the same curriculum at school, their home environment also plays a role in their performance. While some may have parental support, others may not. While some would have been able to have continued learning online, others didn’t. While some parents are more educated and have the opportunity to teach and work with their children, others are too busy hustling to feed theirs and frankly cannot teach what they don’t know or understand. There are quite a few children whose chances of academic success will be negatively affected by this ‘lock-down’. In addition to these factors, one must also consider the emotional trauma that children may be facing in this situation and note that their mental health will also affect the outcome.
We also have to face the fact that not all children are academically inclined so regardless of their results don’t give up on them. At this time, I wish all students who are writing exams well. Do your very best and best of luck in your future endeavours.