My middle school students had a strange fixation with a song titled “Train Station” by the Gray Havens for over a year now. I had asked them “What is the deal with this song?” To which they replied “Miss Wielemaker, it is the message of salvation!” Humbled, I thought I should probably look into it.
When I began to look at the lyrics I was astounded by how rich with metaphor it is. Sometimes when I try and develop lesson plans centred around CFRR (Creation, Fall, Redemption & Restoration) or Teaching For Transformation I am overwhelmed by how many “pieces” I have to include. And while those pieces need to be included, it’s amazing how quickly they fall into place when we open our eyes and plan transformationally, that is, we allow God to show us what He is doing and lean into the true and poignant message that HE wants to share.
The student’s interest in the song prompted me to develop a project that they could be excited about and design mixed media art pieces expressing the theme. My hope was to have students create art that was meaningful to them and communicated truth. It is my hope that in expressing themes students will choose to express the truth of the Gospel in their work and defy the lies the world shares. I never imagined that they would hand pick a message so directly revealing the shortcomings of the world and celebrating God’s truth.
Excerpts from the lesson plans of Art 9/10 teacher Alicia Wielemaker.
Video Highlights from chapel hosted by the VCS Arts Education students that was developed around the song and the art it inspired.
One student’s perspective:
with anxious eyes, we stand in line,
Til’ the cold ground shakes,
To tell us it’s time for the trains,
Yes it’s time for the trains to stop,
Train Station: the Gray Havens
I tried my best to express anxiety in my piece with the colour pallet (cool blues and greys) and used a lot of fragmentation and collage. I wanted to focus on the line “with anxious eyes we stand in line”, so I wanted eyes in my piece. If you look closely at the wall next to the man standing in line you can see one painted on it. The people in the foreground are supposed to represent our anxieties in life. The broken CD represents that we are all broken people. The newspaper represents the busyness of our world and how it can cause us trouble when we try to keep up with everything around us. The person closest in the foreground is crumbling, again signifying that without Christ, we will crumble and fall apart.
Katelyn Nicholson, student