By Leah Hall
Pellissippi students from all over the world share a bit of their lives in the 2008 International Students Art Exhibit at the Division Street campus.
The participating students are in their first year of English classes with Prof. Mary Nietling.
Much of the work is reflective of the students’ cultural backgrounds and homelands. Some pieces reflect something more internal or personal.
“The inspiration for the show came from the students,“ said Nietling. “Their composition textbooks have areas to draw pictures that show the relationships of sentence structure. When I went around the classroom to check their workbooks, I noticed many very nice drawings, and thought to myself, ‘These students are talented!’”
Habeeb Al Salem, from Saudi Arabia, was instrumental in putting the show together. He studies computer graphics, and used his skills to organize the show. He has been interested in art since he was very young.
Some of his work for the show was computer generated. One piece is a mermaid, which he said reflects the kind of art he would like to create professionally. He is also showing some pencil drawings, including one of Arabic calligraphy.
Shirley Martinez, from Columbia, wants to study psychology. Her work depicts a sunflower with long hair, which she said represents a dear friend she had in the sixth grade.
Saori Kuwano, from Japan, created two rainbow-colored origami balls. She explained that they are meant to be a prayer or a wish for good luck, and are often given as gifts to the sick. She was first taught origami at the age of three by her mother and grandmother.
Charu Panthi, from Nepal, has many pieces in the exhibit. Some are paintings of her homeland, some are photographs and some are traditional designs. One piece called “We Interpret Dreams” is a series of faces with hair made of a collage of magazine pictures, which she said were inspired by Nietling. Each has the same haircut and she said that the scenes in their hair represent their ideas.
Li Hong Ma, from China, has shared some traditional Chinese illustrations. She is also showing a piece called “Life Tree” which she says represents her transformation in finding god. She describes this transformation as “coming to have a face.”
Students were encouraged by the responses they received for their artwork. “I never expected anything, but when people commented that they liked it, I felt really happy,” said Charu Panthi.
Shirley Martinez said she noticed a student walk past her art piece in the hall, turn and walk back to look again, and smile approvingly. She was glad to see her art have such an affect on someone.
Habeeb Al Salem said that this experience helped him to focus on his artwork; knowing that someone would be seeing it encouraged him in his creative process.
Saori Kuwano has enjoyed being in Nietling’s class, meeting other students from around the globe and participating in the art show. She said, “It is nice to share something new.” She said that sharing and learning new things will help her to “grow up to be a big heart.”
Other students with work in the show are Aziz Wahada, from Tunisia; Hala Burbar, from Palestine; Handan Paca, from Turkey; and Andy Aryanto, from Indonesia.