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It’s only clay. And yet, each clay “bone” represents the lives of men, women, boys and girls who are victims of violence and genocide worldwide.
Mars Hill College students are participating in a nationwide project called One Million Bones, a collaborative art installation designed to recognize the millions of victims and survivors who have been killed or displaced by humanitarian crises in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Burma. The mission of the project is to increase global awareness of these crises while raising funds needed for survivors.
Eighteen classes at Mars Hill – or about 470 students - are participating in the project which involves making bones from clay. Each bone created generates a $1 donation from the Bezos Family Foundation for the work of CARE International in countries affected by genocide and mass violence. The project is sponsored on the Mars Hill campus by the Social Work Club.
Dr. Beth Vogler, professor of social work, is coordinating the project on campus with Jane Renfroe, associate professor of art and Nathan McMahan, instructor of philosophy. Vogler said the project fits well with the goals of the social work program.
“Social justice is an integral part of social work professional values, and One Million Bones offers our students a real way of responding to the injustice of genocide,” Vogler said. “We educate students on global as well as domestic issues, and this project highlights the struggles of many of our neighbors in other countries.”
Vogler said the goals of the project also provide a natural tie-in with the summer reading selection for Mars Hill College, Outcasts United, by Warren St. John. “Many of the refugee families in the book were fleeing genocide. The book gives some detail about the background of these families, and I thought that this would be something that would interest our students,” Vogler said.
The project also shows students how art can speak to human tragedy, Renfroe said.
“Bones, bones, and more bones - I'm expecting to fire more than 1,800 bones within the next couple of months,” Renfroe said. “Our students are engaged and inspired. Through this project, they gain a heightened awareness about global issues of genocide and humanitarian crises, and they also better understand the power of art to communicate and affect change. “
A preliminary art installation of the bones is planned on the Mars Hill campus in the spring. Then those bones will be shipped or delivered to Washington, D.C. for the One Millions Bones art installation on the national mall in the summer of 2013.