Patience, perseverance, playfulness: those are the attributes displayed by the seven students who recently completed Ivan Bratko’s workshop on human anatomy at Chatham High School. The students met for six sessions after school in Mr. Hreha’s suitably eclectic classroom, a hotbed of creativity and training ground for future artists. The assignment? To build a small scale, three-dimensional, anatomically correct human skeleton with a wire armature and blobs of Sculpty clay to indicate muscle mass. Quite a challenge, I’d say, especially when heads start to fall off and fingers go missing. But the students kept at it, kneading the clay, reattaching bits and pieces, giving their skeleton a distinctive identity (a pumpkin-shaped head, for instance, or a pink tongue hanging from the skeleton’s mouth).
The instructor, Ivan Bratko, is an artist from Ukraine. His passion for the project was evident. I enjoyed watching him interact with the students, explaining, demonstrating, encouraging. On the last day of the workshop (I was there as an observer), I expressed my admiration for the students—all girls—who participated in the project. “I’m curious. Do you know why there are no boys in this class?” The answer came—swift, irrevocable. “Because boys are not cool enough to be here!”
Seven girls, artists at heart, seven strong personalities. Boys, you are forewarned.
Note: As publicity chair of the Art League of the Chathams, I cover arts-related events in Chatham and neighboring towns. The workshop on human anatomy described here is part of the Advanced Placement Portfolio Development series, an educational resource for Chatham High School students interested in pursuing a career in the arts. The program is funded in equal parts by the Art League of the Chathams and by members of the CHS National Art Honor Society.