Everyone is special and one-of-a-kind. We are God’s children and we are unique. And that’s exactly what I came to share with children at Education and Training Center for children with hearing impairment and intellectual disability.
I decided to have a session on the magic of being you. Each student was given a mirror to look into- they could stare into it, make faces, smile, talk, squint- do whatever that expressed their thoughts best. I was a little apprehensive earlier because the word ‘portrait’ always evokes realism and I didn’t want the children to lose their spontaneity. But I was pleasantly surprised that the mundane doesn’t bother them and that they respond to things very truthfully and with innocence. They don’t control their emotions instead they just say what they like or dislike.
After my short demonstration, where I spoke to them about my crooked nose and twirled up moustache, and my feelings not only did the room echo with their laughter but I was greeted with warm hugs.
Everyone took to work seriously. After an intense session of observing and practicing their expressions, which was self motivated, they were ready to translate their magic on imperial sheet. They were confident and not dependent on me and very rarely did they ask for help. Some kids were so busy with their mirror and making faces that they didn’t really want to paint but observe themselves. I felt these kids were more sensitive and had the ability to delve deeper. They also explored their work from all sides instead of sticking to the traditional format.
I also observed that some kids were not interested in making their portrait but just painting various colors. They were trying to feel the brush, the strokes and explore color.
The children realised that there could be several things that make them what they are: the clothes they wear, the way they look, things that make them laugh or cry, things they love, things they dislike…
In my experience of working with children, I found the children at ETC uninhibited for they asked questions for clarity, confident in their expression and less conscious to explore new boundaries.