After the 9.0 earthquake that rocked Ishinomaki Miyagi in March 2011 and caused a catastrophic tsunami, which claimed more than 3,000 lives, a local elementary school, Watanoha, became the city's refugee shelter for residents who lost their homes. A month after the tragedy, the children of the Watanoha shelter began playing in the schoolyard by collecting tsunami wreckage and turning the debris into creative art and playthings. Keep reading to see how the children of Watanoha turned debris from an troubling situation into something bright and positive.
Around 20 Watanoha children made about 100 artworks using the objects that they found. Their artwork, also known as “Watanoha Smile,” are now being displayed in galleries all over the country. Inukai Tomo, a local driftwood artist, taught the children how to make things out of the wreckage.
“One reason is that I thought that the strong children at Watanoha Elementary School and the works that they created would bring people hope and smiles. As I looked at the sculptures that the children made, I felt sure that they would become symbols of recovery,” says Tomo.
Atelier Muji, a museum in Tokyo, is now displaying some of the objects as part of “The Power of Kids” art show. “Great power of expression was born out of a sad event, I think that also for showing us a strong future,” said the Atelier Muji website. The exhibit looks at where the children find their creativity. These children had very little resources to build their creations and had to rely mainly on their imaginations. Accompanying the exhibit are 3 workshops teaching children how to create art from found objects.