she_writes

United States

Teen
I like the Starbucks Veranda blend
Language lover, Spanish and German
Student news reporter
Believer
Gryffindor
Read that book now, we only have so much time

Message from Writer

Good day, future legend!
Today's struggle, tomorrow's strife-
all essential components of your origin story.
You, forged for greatness. Go!
- Lin Manuel Miranda

Summer

May 31, 2019

PROMPT: Open Prompt

1
They told her she was stupid, but she was brilliant. Could a stupid person have so carefully examined and noticed the shadows under a dewy leaf, or the minute details of a butterfly’s wings? Never had I see someone so flawlessly blend colors to make the perfect shade and move the paintbrush over the canvas as if it were an extension of their own body. At least, not until I meet Silvana Lasagna.
An old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. For Silvana, a picture was worth much more than that. She was born and raised in Chile, grew up speaking both Italian and Spanish then learned English when she moved to the United States over 20 years ago. The remnants of her birth language still dance across her tongue when she speaks, intermingling English and Spanish when she tells me her stories.
“I have a disease called… oh, how do they say it... dyslexia?” Her hand moves across the canvas of the painting she is helping a student on as she speaks to us. “But in my country, they no know what that was. In Chile, they no have good medical care. My teachers said I was dumb, but my mother said ‘no, no, she is very smart!’” They didn’t know what dyslexia was, did not understand why she struggled in school. They assumed it was her fault, that it was her stupidity. Her teachers wanted to send her to a special school because they thought she was too dumb, did not think she had the potential to succeed in school.
Her mother knew the truth though, and fought back, managing to keep her in school. I can not imagine how Mrs. Lasagna would have felt - to have her teachers call her dumb and to believe them, because no one understood that she had dyslexia. "One of my teachers still believed in me," Mrs. Lasagna tells us. "He knew I wasn't dumb like the other teachers told my family I was." Words just weren't her thing. But perhaps, this teacher thought, pictures were.
Silvana was already a talented art student, so this one caring teacher played to her strengths and showed her how to learn using her drawings. Silvana learned how to identify letters and numbers despite her dyslexia by using the shapes of animals. In a drawing of a cat, bent over to drink milk, Silvana could find the number two. She found all sorts of useful ways to use her talent. She still struggled, she tells us. Some things still evaded her. No matter, though, because she no longer needed words - her brilliance surpassed letters. Soon, others realized her brilliance, too. She got a full scholarship at a young age to study art at one of Chile’s top universities.
Years of learning and hard work lead to Silvana opening her own workshop in Chile. She found love, held onto it, and followed her husband to America when he moved to find work. This guided her to Texas, where she now teaches kids and teenagers like me to paint. Monday through Friday she runs a small studio out of her house. Easels, canvases, and paint bottles line the walls. Students sit side by side, and Mrs. Lasagna flits around the room helping students when we call for her. As we work, she entertains us with lively stories full of hand motions and cartoon character voices. She tells us stories of Chile, each one more entertaining than the next. She’ll tell you when you first come to her studio, “I am no good with words, I cannot spell.” It makes no difference. She has her paintings and her stories now, and that's all she ever needed. Language barriers, dyslexia - they are no match for her. No matter how many scholars and sages I come across in my life, I know none will be as brilliant as Silvana. None have conquered language and imagery such as she.








 

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  • May 31, 2019 - 3:48pm (Now Viewing)

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