Community Art Workshops: Africa Part II
The workshops designed for the schools in Africa were centered on a theme of sustainability. The schools were equipped with materials and the manpower to teach over five hundred primary and secondary students in nine schools in Masaka, Uganda. Four art-making stations were set up to teach different art techniques that could be created from found materials. The stations were as follows: printmaking on the local material of bark cloth, making recycled beaded necklaces, canvas drawings, and a mural station. Each station stressed the concepts and ideas of renewability and the importance of being able to use the materials that students have available to them to create works of art, make a difference in their communities and potentially make a living.
The printmaking station allowed the students to create original artwork inspired from nature on bark cloth using styrofoam etching techniques. They were also instructed how to make these prints in their own homes by etching designs into Irish Potatoes, which are a Ugandan food staple. We taught them how to create ink from the rich red dirt Africa offers and other found materials for future art making. The recycled bead jewelry station taught the students how to make a popular tourist item from materials that are commonly thrown out. They were also taught different methods of making the popular jewelry by using local plants for their beads and simple glue making techniques from the sap of the Mutuba tree.
The canvas station allowed students to freely draw on canvas something from nature. They were given a variety of media to use and experiment with to make their creations. My favorite station was the mural station. The mural had a theme written across the top and the students were given the opportunity to expand on the theme with painted words that built off of each other. This mural is currently part of an international exchange started by these students in Uganda and will be completed by students at Rasor Elementary in Plano, Texas. This concept brought the community together in so many ways. They were able to share artistically with each other their ideas about how the theme is relevant to their lives and the lives of others. It also gave the community an opportunity to see that many people in our world are interconnected through similar issues.
Each workshop station engaged the students in art activities that taught them how they could use their natural resources to create. The students were taking part in something that was not done in their everyday instruction and were able to use the big idea to help understand their community, the world and their daily life.