US Peace Corps Volunteer creates a Free Art Class event which includes students learning painting + general building painting skills & HIV/AIDS Education.
The Details to Know: The class is 2 days this story covers five days. 15 Students, 3 Teachers/Artists, 4 Staff. The students get free art supplies, lessons from current active full time artists working here in Swaziland, got to paint their own design actually on a building. Plus, just basic general business knowledge of the how to make money as an artist. An entire Social Center gets a complete new paint job by the students, the artist/teacher’s add their own artwork to 3 Different Social Centers to help Nhlangano look more beautiful.
The Groups: US Peace Corps, AMICAALL Nhlangano & Yebo Art Gallery – ArtReach
The Supplies: two brushes one big & one small, coloring & regular pencils, sketch pads & Bristol board. Liters (Gallons) of paint both for the building &
Locations: Ward 2 Social Center (The Classroom), Ward 5 Social Center (Titi ’s Center where students paint on the building), Ward 3 Town Council/Social Center (The AMICAALL office & where one signal piece of art went up)
The Main Cast of Characters:
PCV Josh EggebeenAMICAALL Representatives – Khetsewi & Sabelo + Titi
Yebo Art Gallery – ArtReach – Joseph Mushipi, Thabo Lukhele, Obed Mushibude Chipwepwe
The Students – Senzo, Sambulo, Valdez (+ Mathendele Boys), Pastor Valley Group (2 Girls & 2 Boys) + 6 more
Others – Dennis the Man & his Son
So here we go:
Here in Swaziland people arrive late & events start late especially with an 8am beginning, so this project right from the start just seemed to move along with a pace rarely seen here, as only one student was 30 minutes late everyone else was early or right on time, so by 9:00am we were 30 minutes ahead of schedule since the 30 minutes of waiting built in was tossed out at 8:05 when The Free Art Class started.
We never looked back and what follows here encompasses the dates between July 6th & July 10th. But its not told in chronological order, so hold on pay attention cause it’s all over the place with lots of reading since A LOT happen in those 4 days.
But let’s go back.
First off several small events inspired this whole idea, so either late 2010 and early 2011, Valdez (13), a member of what I am calling the Mathendele Boys, by the way Mathendele is neighborhood I live in, was drawing on the street as I walked by so I stopped to look at he was drawing which was Spider Man straight from his memory. It was really good, so I offered to buy it from him for 1 Emalangeni, I figured why not promote his obvious talent. Well, over the next couple of days a stream of boys showed up at my door with drawings, which I bought a few from most, which were generally traced. I had brought some GI Joe action figures with me to give away, so I gave one to Valdez told him if he brought me back a drawing of it I would give him 3 Emalangeni, 2 days later I am 3 Emalangeni short & have a drawing of a Cobra Viper on my wall. I gave him a GI Joe poster of Snake Eyes + one of Thor, 2 days later I got a colored Snake Eyes back, I was 5 Emalangeni short but more wall art. At the time, I was still coaching the Black Terrors soccer team. My Swazi counterpart Dennis was saving the day before games on a regular basis, hint, hint for later. And one of my players Senzo (27) was impressing me with how hard he practiced compared to others, but he got a job at the gas station & disappeared.
Oct 2011 rolls around, I am no longer the coach, haven’t seen Senzo or Valdez in months, Dennis is about to quit AMICAALL, where I work. Dennis, Titi, Sabelo & Khetswe are actively helping me with my massive Social Center renovation. But I need an artist to paint a mural on the AMICAALL Ward 4 Social Center project they are helping with, so I find Joseph Mushipi at the Yebo Art Gallery. He paints a phenomenal mural for the Center that impresses me & whole community beyond belief in only 6 days. See the picture at the top of the blog that is his work.
March 2012 rolls around the Ward 4 Center is completely done, I have decided not to extend another year leaving me 5 months to put together a project to keep me busy, since for the first time in my almost 2 years of service, I was just sitting in my hut (ok, it’s an apartment) but it’s a phrase for us PCV’s that symbolizes nothing to do common for most but not for me until this time because AMICAALL’s funds have dried up along with most of the government funds, so there is zero going on in the office. No new projects are allowed to be started. The success of the mural brought an idea to me, plus I was seeing Valdez’s art on my wall every day.
Which got me thinking of one my goals I first thought I when I was walking around Nhlangano, which was get some art up since the town is empty and covered in dust. Plus, in my almost 2 years here some artist had painted some landscapes, animals & human heads on the metal shacks between my house & work along my daily walk to town. Which when they appeared made me smile & still do since they are the only interesting thing to look at. And I have come to really understand the power of art by living in culture that has little to none nor do they even remotely see it as a potential job even if they have an obvious talent. So the light blub went off, the stars aligned, Peace Corps approved funds & The Free Art Class was born.