Heart of the World

Fatima Al-Sammak, Editor-in-Chief

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A structure like no other, weighing about 120 pounds with a height of 6 feet and a width equal to 4 feet and 6 inches was wheeled into the media center on Tuesday, August 2. This structures represents the cultures and peoples that come from all over the world. Created by Northeast’s very own art teacher, Ms. Michelle Hrbek, this massive and impressive artwork does not just represent the people of the world, but also the people that can be found in the halls of Lincoln Northeast.

When looking at this structure, similar to any of the other hearts found around the city of Lincoln, a person may begin to wonder what the inspiration is. It can clearly be seen that there are women of different cultures being represented under a clear blue sky, but what exactly drove Ms. Hrbek to create this sculpture? When asked, Ms. Hrbek simply answered, “My inspiration was my students.” She goes on further to clarify, “I did research on immigrants in Nebraska, and I wanted to include a diverse race of immigrants. But I just looked at my students as well.” Because indeed, Lincoln Northeast is known to be a diverse school in and of itself. In fact, if a person were to simply look into one of its classrooms, he/she would be able to identify quite a diverse bunch of students differing in appearances, clothes, and language.

Another noticeable yet impactful detail is the faces of the women. None of the faces had been given a clear structure or facial features. This was done on purpose as to encourage anyone who may come across this structure to better connect with it and to make it more inclusive. Ms. Hrbek wanted to give the viewers of her artwork the ability to associate further with the people in the drawing by either visualizing someone they know within the faceless painted people or even visualize themselves. Ms. Hrbek went on to say, “I can tell you the names of the student that represents each person drawn because they influenced it.” Because, as mentioned earlier, the students sitting in her own classrooms were what drove her to draw those different cultures.

An additional detail is the fact that is it only women that signify each culture drawn. Ms. Hrbek reasoned it is because “women are responsible for tending to families and carrying on traditions through things like food, clothing and so on. I wanted to represent women in the role they play.” Hence it is not just a representation of the people from around the world, but rather women’s roles in those varying cultures and traditions.

The reason it was painted under a clear blue sky was to represent the open prairie sky of Nebraska. On the base of the sculpture, a person will also notice the same seal found on Nebraska’s flag as well as the date of the state’s establishment. When looking at the painting as a whole, a spectator may also notice the Native American women drawn in the middle of the heart. This is because they are the first indigenous people in Nebraska. Additionally, this piece of art took Ms. Hrbek three weeks to create, with 8 to 10 hours spent each day and an additional one and a half weeks, with two to four hours spent a day.

So before this glass-stained sculpture is removed and cemented in Lincoln’s downtown area, students are encouraged to take a peek and maybe snap a picture of this monumental artwork.

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