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Making a statement with clay: ‘One million bones’ brings back the topic of genocide

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Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 12:02 pm | Updated: 1:46 pm, Tue Oct 2, 2012.

Jennifer Convry, of West Reading, pinches two pieces of clay on top of each other to quickly create a human vertebrae during a workshop in Baldwin Brass in Wyomissing.

She and other participants at the workshop June 7 created 13 bones, including vertebras, skulls and ribs.

A human skeleton hung nearby for reference, and examples of clay bones were available.

However, the workshop wasn't just about making bones.

Many people were very passionate about why they came: to help raise awareness about ongoing genocide.

"Because I think it's important to educate people,” said Helen Townly, of Wyomissing.

Kathleen Murphy, of West Reading, said she made bones “to bring awareness to a huge social wrong.”

"One makes a difference. It takes one to make a difference," Murphy said to sum up the workshop.

Nancy Seghetti, who owns of The Mosaic Studio in West Reading, created a One Million Bones chapter in Berks and organized the workshop.

"I saw this installation was going on and I investigated it and I contacted them.

“Originally I just wanted to make one bone and be part of the process. And then I thought I can have a workshop and have a few other people make some bones also," Seghetti said.

She felt that a chapter was necessary after learning more about genocide, the One Million Bones organization, and Naomi Natale, the woman who founded the project.

Local colleges are participating as well.

Penn State is dedicating an entire month to genocide awareness by holding film screenings, lectures and a couple bone-making workshops during September.

"It was important to educate our students about world-wide genocide, rather than only offer bone-making workshops,” said Marilyn Fox, curator of the school’s Fryberger Gallery.

“We felt that the workshops should be couched in a more comprehensive understanding of what genocide is, its historical and contemporary impact on individuals, families, villages and entire nations," Fox said.

Many events will look at "ways to educate and understand why, where, and how genocide is still happening."

They’ll show the whole picture, from Hollywood's view on genocide to students' views on the topic, Fox said.

Kutztown University would like to have a workshop, and Reading Area Community College (RACC) and Albright College had bone-making workshops this year.

Seghetti would like to involve Alvernia.

The chapter is part of a worldwide project meant to raise awareness for genocide. This project consists of workshops, where participants hand make bones. These bones will be taken to Washington, D.C., to be displayed in an exhibition at the National Mall in May.

The bones can be made from various materials, such as clay, plaster, paper mache, or fabric.

Generally, participants pay $5 to make a bone or have a bone made for them.

The money will go to The Enough Project, Genocide Intervention Network, Women for Women and CARE.

Students can make bones at no cost thanks to Students Rebuild and the Bezos Family Foundation.

Seghetti said the groups are supporting students who are involved and taking care of the funding.

Naomi Natale, the project founder, artist and activist from Albuquerque, started the project March 14.

In her previous project, she photographed cradles artists had made from various materials. The project was meant to raise awareness of orphans and poverty in Africa.

"The idea is that one million people will each create one bone to represent one victim, and then we're gonna install them all in the National Mall in Washington, D.C., very much like a mass grave," Natale says in a video: "Profile Piece: Naomi Natale and One Million Bones."

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