After seeing the kids’ happy faces, she wanted to do more. Chelsea pooled her allowance and tooth fairy money, and asked friends and relatives to check out her Amazon wish list. Donations started pouring in.
Between August and March, the Phaires made nearly 900 art kits for shelters and homes in various states. They drove from Danbury, Conn., where they live, to hand deliver the packages. As part of the in-person deliveries, Chelsea gave an art lesson to the recipients of her kits, including a small presentation on why art is important to her.
“Whether I’m happy or sad, art is always there for me,” said Chelsea, who is in the fifth grade.
When the pandemic hit, her family decided it was more important than ever to provide as many art kits as possible to children in need. They made around 1,500 kits, which have been sent to kids in 12 states, her mother said. At first, the Phaire family was paying for all the shipping costs, but they eventually started a PayPal account to help with the mounting postage fees.
With the help of her parents, she now runs Chelsea’s Charity, an organization aimed at providing art supplies to children, particularly those who have endured hardship and trauma in their young lives.
For Chelsea, art is communication. She knows that a simple sketch, a carefully crafted painting or a glitter-covered canvas serves a powerful purpose in the life of a child.
The idea behind the initiative came to Chelsea after she was gifted an art kit from a family friend two years ago. Her mother told her to take good care of it, since many children don’t have any art supplies.
“This made me so sad,” said Chelsea, who then decided she wanted all kids to have access to basic art supplies.
“Chelsea always had a strong desire to start a charity and asked us about it from the time she was only 5 years old,” said Candace Phaire. “When she got a little older, my husband and I said yes.”
The materials from her Amazon wish list ship directly to their home, and with the help of her younger brother Corey, 9, Chelsea organizes the products and divides them into separate containers to send to children in homeless shelters, foster care homes, and schools in need of additional support.
“It quickly became a family project,” Candace Phaire said. “Everybody has a role.”
The shelters and foster care services that have received the art kits have been grateful.
“The kids were just so excited, and it was a huge weight off the parents’ shoulders,” said Shana Carignan, development director at Families Moving Forward, the largest shelter for children and families experiencing homelessness in Durham, N.C.
The shelter, which regularly uses art therapy to help children cope with trauma, is no longer able to facilitate these programs due to coronavirus concerns. They used to share art supplies among the children.
“The kids were really missing this,” she said. “So, having their own art kits has been very helpful.”
Stacy Dewitt, the executive director of James Storehouse, which provides resources for youth in Los Angeles entering the foster care system, received 50 kits from Chelsea’s Charity last week.
“Children who enter the foster care system typically have no belongings, which is traumatic for them,” she said. “It is so nice to be able to give them something extra, especially because art is very therapeutic for processing emotions.”
Foster parents, too, said the kits are particularly useful for occupying the kids, and allowing them to channel their energy in a positive way.
“These art kits have helped caregivers, particularly those with new foster placements, engage in conversation with the kids in a safe way that builds trust,” Dewitt said.
Chelsea’s Charity communicates directly with shelters and organizations to offer supplies, but recently, families in need have also started reaching out to the Phaires.
“I had a foster mom contact us personally today,” Candance Phaire said this week. “We are sending her some kits tomorrow.”
Candace Phaire, who is a professor of early-childhood education at Central Connecticut State University, believes art plays an important role in the emotional development in children.
Recently, Chelsea’s class had plans for a field trip, and she was counting down the days with excitement. But when the students were told the trip was canceled due to the coronavirus, Chelsea grabbed her own art kit to cope with her disappointment.
“Art helps me communicate when I can’t express myself,” she said. “Art is my voice.”
With more free time lately, she has also started a “Chat with Chelsea” initiative, facilitating weekly interviews on Instagram Live with different artists.
She’s already chatted with Nikkolas Smith — children’s book author and illustrator at Walt Disney Imagineering, as well as Kathy Cano-Murillo, the chief executive of The Crafty Chica, and Najee Dorsey, the founder of Black Art In America, among others.
Beyond providing art supplies to children across the nation, Chelsea has high hopes to expand her charity around the world.
“I think if every child had access to art supplies, it would make the world a much better place,” she said.
Australian archaeologists have discovered some of the most detailed examples of rare, small-scale rock art in the form of miniature stencils in a rockshelter traditionally owned by the Marra people.
The research, published in the journal Antiquity, examined the unusual art from the Yilbilinji rockshelter at Limmen National Park in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria region of northern Australia.
Traditionally owned by the Marra Aboriginal people, the site was documented by the research team in 2017 and instantly stood out as unique, according to the researchers from Flinders University and the Monash Indigenous Centre.
“It’s the size of the rock art that makes this site unusual and highly distinctive,” says Flinders University archaeologist ARC Future Fellow Dr. Liam Brady.
“Typically, stencilled rock art around the globe features full or life-sized dimensions such as human and animal body parts, objects (e.g. boomerangs), and even plant matter.
“However, many of the stencils at Yilbilinji are tiny or miniature-sized, and too small to have been made using real-life body parts and full-size objects.”
Only two other examples of this miniature stencilled form of rock art, both human figures, are known from anywhere in the world: one at Nielson’s Creek in New South Wales, and one at Kisar Island in Indonesia.
The research team—archaeologists, anthropologists, Marra rangers, and Limmen National Park rangers—recorded a total of 17 images of these miniature stencils during a 2017 field trip.
The images depict a wide range of motifs including, human figures, animals (crab, long-necked turtles), kangaroo paws, wavy lines, boomerangs, and geometric shapes.
The researchers set out to find out how these unusual images were made. One clue came from the fact most of the miniature stencils were made with rounded and curved edges meaning they were probably made using something that could be easily moulded and stuck to the rock surface.
Another clue came from anthropological research in the region. Co-author and anthropologist Dr. John Bradley, from the Monash Indigenous Centre, has worked with Aboriginal people in the study area for more than 40 years.
He remembers seeing beeswax used by people for a range of purposes such as an adhesive for repairing spears and harpoons. He also saw children shaping beeswax into objects and animals such as cattle, horses and cowboys.
“Using these clues, the researchers decided to test if beeswax could have been used to make the miniature stencils,” he says.
“Our experiments involving heating and shaping beeswax into human figures, animals, objects, and geometric shapes, and then stencilling onto a rock slab confirmed beeswax was an excellent material for making miniature stencils.”
“Whoever made these miniature stencils—adults or children—is open for debate, as is their meaning,” says Matthew Flinders Fellow Professor Amanda Kearney.
“However, what is important here is that this discovery adds another dimension to the Australian and global rock art record,” she says.
In fact, since this discovery was made, three additional stencils have been discovered in the area—a human figure, an echidna and a freshwater turtle—which further highlights the archaeological potential at Limmen National Park.
The article, “A rare miniature and small-scale stencil assemblage from the Gulf of Carpentaria: replication and meaning in Australian rock art,” (May 2020) by Liam M Brady, John J Bradley (Monash University), Amanda Kearney and Daryl Wesley has been published in Antiquity.
More information: Liam M. Brady et al. A rare miniature and small-scale stencil assemblage from the Gulf of Carpentaria: replication and meaning in Australian rock art, Antiquity (2020). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2020.48
Citation: Miniature rock art expands horizons (2020, May 26) retrieved 26 May 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-05-miniature-art-horizons.html
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This 500-year-old rock art is among the rarest in the world. Found at a site called Yilbilinji near northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria—and depicting a humanlike figure holding a boomerang (right), surrounded by more boomerangs—it’s a type of stenciling that involved creating miniature outlines of humans, tools, and other shapes. Similar, much older mini-stencils have been found elsewhere in Australia and around the world. Now, scientists think they know how ancient people made them.
Australia’s Aboriginal populations have been creating rock art for at least 44,000 years. Typically when stenciling, the artist held their hand or other object up to the rock and sprayed pigmented liquid onto it, leaving behind a life-size negative on the wall.
But the red-rock overhang at Yilbilinji features much smaller figures: 17 minihumans, boomerangs, and geometric patterns—all too tiny to have been modeled after a painter’s hand or a real object. One of the new study’s co-authors remembered seeing Aboriginal people using beeswax as a kind of clay for making children’s toys resembling cattle and horses. Might the ancient rock artists have used beeswax to form stencils?
Working with representatives of the local Indigenous Marra people, the researchers attempted to replicate the ancient art using only materials native to the region. By heating and molding beeswax, sticking it to the rock, and spraying it with a white-pigment paint, they managed to produce rock art exceptionally similar to the originals found at Yilbilinji, they report today in Antiquity.
The miniature art may have served a spiritual or ritualistic purpose, the researchers note. Or, they suggest, because many of these stencils are positioned relatively low on the rocky overhang, it may have just been child’s play, the ancient equivalent to children scribbling on the walls.
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