Originally published on Half the Sky website:
Half the Sky supporter and University of Notre Dame senior Christina Edmonds recently built a special rocking horse to illustrate the life-changing transformation that occurs when an orphaned child is provided with the love of family. It is a transformation that Christina and her family, long-term supporters of Half the Sky, have witnessed in their own family and that we at Half the Sky witness daily in our programs. Here is Christina's description about the evolution of her project:
As part of our 3D Foundations class, we were asked to select an object that had personal significance to us, research the object, its history, evolution, function, and significance, and transform it artistically to make others see something in a new light.
I began this project by thinking of something I was passionate about and had a real connection to, which is adoption. It came to me pretty quickly, but I had no idea how I would turn the idea of adoption into a sculpture.
After much research about China’s adoption policy, orphanages, child development and Half the Sky, I was able to come up with an object: a rocking horse. But I was still unsure of how I would transform it and relate it to the adoption process. I considered my family’s experience adopting my youngest sister, Caroline, from China. When she came home at the age of one, she weighed only 14 lbs. and could not sit up, hold a bottle, crawl, roll over, or hold her head up like most one year olds. It is crazy to think back to the day she came home, because she is now such a typical teenager with a fun, loving, and humorous personality.
Half the Sky Foundation was also a major force behind my idea. I read "Wish You Happy Forever" by Jenny Bowen over the winter, which tells the story of Half the Sky and all the hurdles it faced in establishing its programs in China. What stood out to me was Bowen’s determination. I also discovered that for $75, you could donate a rocking horse to an orphanage in China, which spurred the idea for my wire sculpture.
But how was a rocking horse going to reflect on the transformative adoption process? Ever since I took a graphic design typography class at Notre Dame, I have enjoyed adding words to give texture and meaning to art projects. So I asked my family, cousins, aunts and uncles, who have all experienced the challenges and great joy of adoption, to come up with words to describe the different aspects of adoption: the children, orphanages, child development, family life, transformation, etc. I then categorized them into three columns that I felt showed the evolution of a child’s life and how it changes immensely through love, care, and family.
On the rockers of the horse, the words describe a child’s life as an orphan. On the legs and body, they describe the transition stage when a child is exposed to nurturing love, hope, and hugs. The tail, mane, and head describe family life, including the words ‘forever’ and ‘laughter’.
When adding the finishing touches, I decided to tie a red bow on the horse’s tail to further highlight the transformational changes that occur when a child receives love, and to better tie it to Half the Sky and its mission to bring this same love to children in China.
Huge thanks to Christina, a promising and inspiring artist, for helping us visualize the impact of our work in a totally different way.