Art of hope from Anne Frank’s inspiration

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Celebrated museum takes notice of Innisfail's Ashley Arthur

Ashley Arthur sought inspiration and ended her journey inspiring others. She is just 13 years old.

The Grade 8 Innisfail Middle School student was assigned a project on the extraordinary courage and resilience of Anne Frank, whose famed Second World War diary has inspired millions.

“I read the book and it was very touching. She was an amazing girl,” said Arthur. “I chose five different places in the book that I thought were the most important and I drew pictures from them.”

Those five pieces of interpretive art have not only earned the highest of praise from her teacher Erin Baker but have also drawn the attention of the world famous Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam, where the Jewish teen diarist and her family, as well as four others, hid from the Nazis in a secret annex.

Arthur’s interpretive creations are considered so moving a senior museum official said they could soon be part of a travelling exhibition across Canada.

“We think it would be better for such inspiring and inspired artwork to be presented to the public instead of being stored in archives where almost nobody has access to it,” said Julie Couture, coordinator of Canadian projects at the Amsterdam museum. “That is the reason why we were looking with Erin to see if it could be possible to display the work of her student in connection to the Anne Frank House project in Canada with the travelling exhibition there. That is something we are trying to organize at this moment with Erin Baker for the near future.”

The genesis of Arthur’s five creations came from her teacher’s own moment of inspiration during a visit last fall to the Amsterdam museum.

Baker said she was “moved by the entire experience” and wanted to find a way to share it with her students. When the language arts teacher returned to Innisfail she decided to make The Diary of Anne Frank a study project for her 57 students. They were given several options on how to approach it and Arthur chose creating five different pieces of art that represented how the book made her feel, and the passages that she felt were most important.

“When I saw Ashley’s work I said, ëOh wow. This is incredible.’ This is exactly the kind of things that I saw when I was there,” said Baker, adding there were also “tons” of other excellent projects from her large group of students. “But hers was A-plus, plus.”

Arthur’s five creations reflect Frank’s indomitable spirit, her unique humanness that gave the world an extraordinary example of hope, strength and courage to move through the most trying of circumstances, and to face each seemingly desperate day with a smile.

When the courageous Jewish girl began her diary in the secret annex, she was just 13 years old – the same age as Arthur.

“There were many times in the book that we had the same thoughts and I admire how positive she was. She didn’t have any of the freedoms that we have, but even when she was terrified and in hiding she still thought that most people were really good at heart,” said Arthur. “I think she would want to remind people of that today – that most people are good. “Anne Frank was full of hope right to the end of her story,” she added. “And I was really excited when I was told they were interested in the work I did to honour her.”

Ashley Arthur, Grade 8 Innisfail Middle School student

“There were many times in the book that we had the same thoughts and I admire how positive she was. She didn’t have any of the freedoms that we have, but even when she was terrified and in hiding she (Anne Frank) still thought that most people were really good at heart.”

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About Author

Johnnie Bachusky

Johnnie Bachusky joined the Innisfail Province as editor in 2013. He covers Innisfail and Red Deer County news, police, crime and municipal politics. He is also a photographer and columnist.