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I am a dance and theatre artist in the St. Tammany Public School system in Louisiana. I service K – 5th grade students in various residencies. My son recently became a marine. I ordered a sculpture from you of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima. I intended to give it to my son as a present but before I did I used it in 2 different ways with the children I teach.

The first residency I taught was a mime class. I start out with what mime is, some history and pictures etc. Then we work on facial expressions, hand techniques, walks, isolations and little “sketches”. These sketches are people in situations that handle different objects, react to them etc. Then I talk about being a living statue, how to keep that inner “hum” to be alive but be absolutely still. Finally, I give the students pictures of statues or show them a few statues that I have and assign them the task of becoming that statue, frozen at first. Then, they are to come alive, do something in mime as that person, and then become frozen again. The children have to work together in cases where the statue has more than one person. I use Greek, military and modern art type statues. The boys love the military ones. We used the Marines at Iwo Jima statue.

The second residency I do with the same statue was a mixed theatre/visual art and dance one. I feature Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms Paintings: The Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want. I pull in a lot of WWII history as that is when they were painted, we look at maps, and do a U.S.O. Show (dance). I have some models of WWII battle ships and the Marine Flag raising statue for them to view afterward. One boy remembered the statue because he actually used it in the mime class before. This time they found the Island on a world map and had a little history of that battle explained to them.

So, the children are seeing art, learning history, and becoming hooked on the principles of freedom that made this country great and hopefully connecting it with people who make that happen, our military. My son is in recon school now, and the statue sits in my living room. I look at it and think of him.

I do not have a picture of anything specific with the statue. I am submitting a picture of one 3rd grade mime class in the art lab at Pontchartrain Elementary School posing as a person leaning on an imaginary shelf. The date on the picture is not correct. I do not always remember to adjust the camera.

Paula Ourso (Mother of a 19 yr. old Marine)
Mandeville, LA

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