Ancient Nubia made young

Enchanted bowls and poisoned tomato soup are just two of the whimsical elements seventh- and eighth-graders from Woodlawn’s Fiske School dreamed up after studying the Oriental Institute’s (OI) Nubian art collection. Through Young Eyes: Ancient Nubian Art Recreated, on exhibit at the OI, features the students’ paintings, sculptures, and stories, each based on a piece from the museum’s collection. In a story called “The Green Glass Bowl,” inspired by a teal glass aryballos (circular flask), seventh-grader Catrina Redmond writes of a Princess Sabrina who so adores her green bowl that she has no need for friends. When Sabrina catches her maid stealing the bowl to sell it—a crime punishable by death—the princess forgives her, describing the maid as “a good person doing a bad thing.”

Royals are less benevolent in Devonte Ware’s “King Bob,” which tells of a King Untrustolot’s plan to poison his rival Bob by sneaking snake blood into his tomato soup. During dinner King Bob foils the scheme, switching bowls when Untrustolot takes a bathroom break. Untrustolot dies immediately. To keep the peace, King Bob keeps Untrustolot’s deception hidden and instead gives his nemesis “a royal burial complete with a ceremonial coffin head made by Nubians.”

After gallery tours and sessions with museum educators, the 59 Fiske students each photographed an object, then spent time at the Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center recreating the object on canvas and paper. Exhibited beside Ware’s “King Bob” story is his painting of an original coffin head dressing; Redmond designed a ceramic bowl similar to the green container she imagined Princess Sabrina would use. Funded by the Joyce Foundation of Chicago, the Through Young Eyes project is a collaboration between the OI and the Chicago Public Schools. Completed stories and artwork are on display, half at the OI, half at Little Black Pearl, through May 6.


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Photos (left to right): Students' artwork and stories on display at the OI museum; Ware's painting depicts the slain King Untrustolot; and seventh-grader Ashley Hilliard's exhibit “The Ashley Stone,” tells of a young sculptor who wins an art competition with his sleek grinding stone.

April 18, 2007