It’s called “Touching an Elephant”. And who wouldn’t find joy just being in the presence of these wonders of the animal kingdom? But it’s the second caption of their program placard that says it all: “another way of seeing” and for these students this is what “Touching an Elephant” is all about.
They are normal teenagers who enrich their lives through art. They just happen to be blind. Their school is called “The Chungju Seongmo School For the Blind” (the teens are also involved with the Korean Art Association For the Blind ) and not too long ago, for a couple of years anyway, they found a unique way to hone their artistic abilities (they are “learning to ‘see by touch’ so that they can create works of art in various mediums”.)
Here’s how it works:
Their art project involved taking a trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand to a world renowned elephant sanctuary, Elephant Nature Park, to immerse themselves in building “their version” of an elephant. Their elephant would be created out of paper mache. In order to visualize an elephant they would be using their sense of touch.
1 very special gentle and loving rescued elephant (Faa Mai) at an elephant sanctuary (Elephant Nature Park) to serve as on-site elephant ambassador (not to be confused with Save Elephant Foundation’s Elephant Ambassador Program )
1 selfless elephant loving human to serve as guide to on-site elephant ambassador, Founder of Elephant Nature Park Sangduen “ Lek “ Chailert
1 group of talented and inquisitive teens as the artists in training
Newspapers, glue and other paper mache making supplies
By assigning each teen a different part of the elephant (to recreate in paper mache) allowed them, individually, to focus on a distinct area of Faa Mai. They could then hone in and refine their works based on their own memorization of having touched the unique wrinkles of an elephant’s skin.(And don’t think sweet Faa Mai wasn’t loving all of the extra attention she got serving as the on-site ambassador of the “Touching an Elephant” project)
Now, as each part of the elephant would be as unique as the individual interpreting it the finished paper mache elephant should be quite an original work of art. It was to be assembled back in Korea, their homeland. The final component of their “Touching the Elephant” Project.
Even as all good things come to an end the two days these young people spent at the Elephant Nature Park (bathing and feeding and “engaging” with the rescued elephants) will never be forgotten. Neither for the elephants or the students and you can certainly count on that.
But sometimes the treat works both ways as it was made known that the talents of the “Touching an Elephant” group extended beyond their artistic abilities. The teenagers prepared an “amazing vegetarian buffet dinner” to the delight of the Elephant Nature Park family and visitors alike.
So you can bet that the next time these multi-talented teens are up for another artistic adventure they will most certainly be welcomed back to the Elephant Nature Park with open arms (and trunks!), by both the humans and the elephants.
You can donate to Elephant Nature Park through Save Elephant Foundation
Learn more about our sweet elephant Faa Mai: See: Faa Mai “ The Most Happy Elephant “ Oh How She Has Grown! and How To Sing an Elephant to Sleep : The “ Baby Elephant Lullaby “ & One Contented Snoring Elephant
Reference: News: The Art of Touching an Elephant
Photo credit: Elephant Nature Park & Lek Chailert