In 2007 I worked with a group of grade 10 English students who were reading “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. They were to paint a personal legend map with symbols for key events in their life and create a context for the symbols. The operative phrase was “My life is like a…” There were all sorts of wonderful metaphors and similes and I remember references to roller coasters, long journeys, music and dance to name a few.
This picture is a close up of an example that I had created for the students. “My life is like a walk along the shore.” I was imaging a reflective walk along a shoreline with many treasures brought in by the waves.
The ankh like symbol is one I often use to represent my doll-maker self. Discussion in the multicultural class focused on how a symbol can be universally recognized but have different meanings for each person or group and how do we communicate the meaning of the symbol to others in a clear and engaging way?
In the second part we went on to create masks in their social studies class to further explore ideas of communication and globalization. Both were great projects and in the arena of art, ideas that could normally cause friction seem to be better discussed and excepted when presented through symbol.