John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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June 24, 2008
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Local kids make art for the Dalai Lama with Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts project

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado " Ten-year-old Jordan Slack of New Castle is an artist. Art is something that she very much enjoys.

"It's fun," she said.

Slack is one of 12 young artists between 6 and 12 years old chosen to create original prayer flags for his holiness the Dalai Lama, who will be the featured speaker at Aspen Institute's 2008 symposium: "His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Aspen: A Celebration of Tibetan Culture."

Jordan was all smiles on Tuesday, June 17, as she covered her hands with black ink to imprint her hand print on one of the colorful flags. As fun as that might have been, it wasn't her favorite part of the project, she said.

"I've enjoyed everything about this project," Jordan said. "But my favorite part was when we were all designing the symbols and we only had about 20 minutes to go and we still had to color all the flags."

In all, the 12 students in Terry Muldoon's art class at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts who participated in the project created 300 prayer flags with original symbols from the kids' view representing "compassion." A total of 1,200 prayer flags have been made for the event as part of an artistic installation designed by nationally renowned twin artists Mike and Doug Starn.

"The energy of the kids, that's been my favorite part," Muldoon said. "(Monday) the energy was so huge in here that I had to open both classroom doors. The energy was so electric."

The electricity and excitement of this special project is felt by more than just Muldoon and her dozen young artists. The project originated when the Aspen Institute contacted the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village to select 48 kids from Aspen to Parachute to create prayer flags. But Muldoon said that she also had kids from as far away as Montrose and Silverthorne in her class.

"We were really excited by the opportunity and decided to take it on," said Anderson Ranch Arts Center children's program and outreach coordinator Sarabeth Berk. "It's a very special, once-in-a-lifetime installation for a once-in-a-lifetime event."

Anderson Ranch Arts Center recruited help from three other local arts organizations, including the Wyly Community Art Center in Basalt, Carbondale Council on the Arts and Humanities, and the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts.

"Part of (Muldoon's) role was to help the kids understand the idea of compassion, oneness, and happiness, and to convey the message that the Dalai Lama doesn't care where you're from, what you look like, what you wear, or what you do. But that he just wants them to be happy," said Wewer Keohane, artist in residence at Anderson Ranch.

Keohane volunteered to help Muldoon with her class because she believes the project will be one that impacts them for the rest of their lives.

"The kids are learning to be selfless," Keohane said. "Which goes in line with what the Dalai is all about. I think that it's a really great thing for these kids to put their artwork into the world to enhance other people's lives."

And that the kids are really eager to participate is "really cool," Keohane said.

Jordan's younger sister, 8-year-old Hannah Slack, learned a lot about the Dalai Lama after just the first class.

"I learned that the Dalai Lama was kicked out of his hometown," Hannah said.

"Why did he get kicked out?" her mother, Kim Slack, asked.

"Because the people didn't like how he was spiritual," responded Hannah.

Kim was impressed with the education about the Tibetan culture her daughters received through the project.

"After the class, my girls told me all about the Dalai Lama," Slack said. "Where he was from, where he lives, what he does. It was amazing for the girls to learn about how there is a person out there who simply wants to pass his message of peace and love on to others."

And a few other tidbits as well.

"I learned that life is good," said 12-year-old Sean Spainhower of Silverthorne. "I also learned that the Dalai Lama likes Bob Marley."

"Bob Marley is cool," responded 10-year-old Jasmine Cass of New Castle.

Bob Marley is cool. And so is the Dalai Lama in the eyes of these young artists.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

jgardner@postindependent.com

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO


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The Post Independent Updated Jun 24, 2008 01:41AM Published Jun 24, 2008 01:05AM Copyright 2008 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.