NEW YORK – The eighth graders of The Cathedral School, accompanied by their English/Modern Greek Teacher Panagiota Lilikaki, visited the Consulate General of Greece in New York on February 15 and viewed Mania Efstathiou's art exhibition, entitled Monitoring Solitude 2.0.
Ms. Lilikaki explained, "The students met with the artist, who shared her perspective on loneliness as a means of inspiration. While at the exhibition, students viewed the works on display in the gallery, picked their favorite artwork, and imagined one of the characters from a book they are reading in their literary circle (i.e. Never Let Me Go, Flowers for Algernon, and past guided reading, Frankenstein) in the artist’s environment. Then, they authored creative pieces, honoring the storyline of the texts they are reading, while highlighting the effects of solitude on the characters’ psyche in the artist’s setting.
"When students returned to class, they combined their stories and authored a collaborative piece, with the intent to create a conversation with the artist by also incorporating the various titles of the artist’s work. While on task, students faced one big challenge: Although they welcomed the assignment of reimagining their 'lonely' characters in a different setting, when it was time to co-author a coherent piece of writing by incorporating the strongest parts of their writing, they had different ideas of 'what to keep, and what to toss away.' However, two days into their writing, and with the deadline for submissions quickly approaching, students managed to re-write their pieces.
"The visit to the exhibition was an enriching experience for the students who agreed that, although loneliness is a feeling that is universally viewed under the light of fear, it actually bridges collaboration, as it creates room for discussion across various disciplines. Thus, students engaged in 'the profound loneliness in both the human experience and the space that surrounds it' by connecting with the artist and the characters in the books, and bonding with the experience of collaborating on a writing project," Lilikaki said.
The students’ writings inspired by Efstathiou’s artwork follow:
Artwork by Mania Efstathiou: The Forbidden View
Authors: Max de Haan, Liam De Nicola, Ares Ecos, Joseph Hall, Will Marris
I have chosen to partake in an ongoing experiment that requires me to isolate myself from all life forms. My one issue with the process, so that I am truly focused, is that I am lonely, except I have always been living in loneliness. I, in solitude, won’t move on through the open doors of the future. As time goes on, I feel like I am in a jail and that I am forced to create this being. But truly it is me that is enforcing this separation. Although, I hold the keys to freedom, I want to continue this torture on myself. I AM LOST. I am the forbidden view.
Artwork by Mania Efstathiou: Internal Choice, Isolated Light, and Hotel Room Revisited
Authors: Alice Amato, Willow Barrett, Anne Foley, Sabrina McNab
I was created by Victor Frankenstein, but I was left alone. Seeing the outside world made me realize how little I was welcomed and how much I was betrayed. So, I dedicated myself to making my creator’s life as horrible as mine. Being lonely is not something I could’ve taught myself, because I already knew what it was since my creation. All these memories of loneliness brought me to the revisited hotel room. Just the thought of being with someone gave me an internal choice, which made me smile. I truly wished that there was someone in this world that cared for me. Until then, I am bathed in an isolated light.
Progress Report 7
Artwork by Mania Efstathiou: Hotel Room Revisited, Urban Solitude, and The Pink Flops
Authors: Jacob Bergson, Mario Manthios, Luke Troncale, Stefano Yozzo
Today is the seventh day I’ve spent alone in this cold and dark space that I call home. There hasn’t been anyone who is interested in talking to me. They are all too busy with work and numbers. It’s the same thing every day, and then I’m thrown right back into this room, with a mattress, a mirror, and a pink pair of flip-flops. The window in front of me is letting me see, but do I really want to see? It’s making me scared, and my palms are sweaty, my knees weak, and my arms are heavy. I go outside to take a walk and see an old abandoned house. Even though the house is old and torn down, it was quiet and peaceful. I wonder who used to live in the house and why, why was this right outside of the lab. It makes me remember the days, the days where I had friends, the days that I was not the smart one. I revisited my hotel room in urban solitude.