Saturday, December 8, 2018

Painting with Scissors

So through the Marimba Mural (see previous post) I got to know the awesome kids who attend the Community Art Academy. They were a great help painting the mural and very eager to learn. Not at all tired after two days of painting (them, not me!) I offered them an artwork shop, if they were willing to come in their free time because the art course actually ended for the year just last week.

Of course they were interested! I promised them a Frida Kahlo workshop, but did one on Henri Matisse instead, who happened to be the subject of this weeks art history course that I’m teaching. One of my favourite artists and a great one to share with kids.

What the kids didn’t expect was that we’d start painting straight away. Even before the teacher arrived, be had already set up the paint stations in the corridor and the kids were hard at work filling one sheet after the other. At first they were a bit shy and conventional, but soon they opened up and started exploring with different colours and techniques. It’s a good thing we ran out of paper, otherwise they’d still be painting.

Next a lecture on Henri Matisse and a selection of pictures of his work. His paintings are fascinating enough, but truly marvellous are the cut-outs that he started making well into his 70s while recovering from bowel cancer.  

That’s when the kids started to have an inkling about what we were going to do…. But not yet about the subject matter. I asked them to think of the volcano eruption, how it had affected their lives and community, and how they could translate those feelings and experiences into images. Not an easy feat. But they liked the fact that the images could be (half) abstract and only meaningful to themselves.

So off to work again! This time we “painted with scissors”, as Matisse himself used to say. A volcano, of course, as well as a surprising number of butterflies… So, why not, instead of an eruption of lava and smoke, create an outburst of butterflies??? As a positive image rather than a scary one and also representing all the people who passed away. Everybody liked the idea so butterflies it was. And that’s how the idea for the next mural was born….

And just when I thought we were done it turned out we weren’t. Classes were over, but the kids hadn’t had a formal closing ceremony yet, so that was going to happen next. And if I could do the honours by presenting the diplomas? Well, if that is all, why not? I wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion, but well…
Little did I know that we had to wait for the mayor and two other VIPS as well as lemonade and snacks. It was fun and I had to run to catch the last bus back home.

Oh and yes, of course Ill back next week for a workshop on Frida Kahlo…

Friday, December 7, 2018

Marimba Mural in Alotenango

When I started with the art workshops for kids in the shelters shortly after the volcano eruption of June 3rd, a mural was always in the back of my mind. But of course then and there was not the time or place. Maybe in the transition shelter? Neither. Although the wooden structures would look waaaay better with a lick of paint, the central government doesn’t allow them to be painted, explained Sandra Barragán my contact at the Municipality of Alotenango. But if I was looking for as wall, she sure had some ideas! Could I please paint the wall in the “Marimba Room”??? And have the kids from the Community Academy of Art help me???

It turned out I knew the “Marimba Room” al too well. It was the room stacked till the ceiling with donations right after the eruption, from where a team of municipal employees coordinated visits and activities in the shelters. This was where we would pick up our nametags and permission slips in order to get into the shelters. 
The Community Academy of Art I did not know, but it turned out to consist a group of kids that receive weekly free art classes offered by the Municipality. Although most of them were not direct victims of the volcano eruption, all of them, as everybody else in Alotenango, were affected by the disaster in some way or another.

I prepared a design (marimba players, of course, in the colours of Alotanango) of which parts could easily be painted by my young helpers. And they did not disappoint!!! What a great group of kids! They were so enthusiastic, eager to learn and dedicated! We had a lot of fun and advanced big time during our fist day of work (Thursday November 29).

The next day 6 of the kids showed up for more painting, although not much could be done except for some details that I had to do myself. Sandra and art teacher Rolando Callejas later came by and helped by painting the hard to reach spots near the ceiling.

Yesterday I went back for the final details and then the work was done… But the project is not over yet! To be continued….

Many thanks to my fellow painters:

Jorge Alejandro Astún Lajuj (10)
Luisa Fernanda Astún Lajuj (15)
Brandon Daniel Astún Lajuj (12)
Heidy Pada Rafael Marroquín (13)
Sofía Valentina Pérez Santos (10)
Eber Josué Chayac Ojot (8)
Dulce María Rafael Marroquín (11)
Keila Daniela Chaval Ojot (13)
Kimberly Liliana Azucena Pérez Vásquez (13)
Rolando Callejós (Art Teacher of the Community Academy)
Sandra Barragán (Municipality of Alotenango)

And my friend Donna Jessen.

And of course the ones who made all this possible thanks to their generous donations: Dr. Jim Bader and Jenneca Fevos.