My big project, Finishing the Ward 4 AMICAALL/Nhlangano Town Council Social Center, the PCPP


Peace Corps Partnership Proposal (PCPP) with the Nhlangano Town Council (NTC)

First application draft submitted Feb, 2011
Approved & Funding Begins on PC website May 17th
Construction started on Oct 24th.
All exterior construction done by Dec 20th.
Grand Opening Jan 5th, 2012
Round 2 of the Funding arrives in early January.
Interior Only Construction Restarts Jan 16th.
Construction all done Feb 16th (minus a million tiny To Do's)
Project Officially Closed May 4th, 2012

Let the children play, learn & be safe.

As of Aug 25th, 2012, I am no longer a PCV, I am now RPCV (Return Peace Corps Volunteer). This blog is my experience in Swaziland between June of 2010 & Aug of 2012. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Art Classes & Painting Part 9 (Day 1, Saturday July 7th, 2012, PM sessions)

And now back to Saturday afternoon,

Lunch arrives right on time in Dennis’ car, Dennis brings it, Sabelo set it up, students & staff have full bellies. Life is good. Thanks Dennis & Sabelo.

So the third art session has Joseph having them do their sketches for the building on a Bristol board, then they paint them. I walk around talking to them like a boss making suggestions.

Here is just a collection of them working:

Pastor Valley Sandile ----------A mutton cloth not an injury

Pastor Valley Zinhle ----------------------------Pastor Valley Taiwan

And two other artists came down with Joseph to help teach the class.

So let me introduce two professional artists working exclusively here in Swaziland. The first, who is Zambian like Joseph, ironic right, I know, Obed Mushibude Chipwepwe. He is a portrait artist been here in Swaziland for 5 years & knew Joseph before coming here which is actually the reason for Joseph being here in Swaziland. So during the earlier Jackson Pollack session he made the previous world map disappear.

The second artist is Thabo Lukhele, a Swazi, who has been assisting many of the students as Joseph teaches. Often, doing like this picture, looking over their shoulder speaking to them in siSwati not English, all students in Swaziland generally understand English even if they can’t speak it very well, he would translate when necessary. He calls himself a realist artist generally drawing portraits, animals & people.

Let’s go back.

Sometime in summer 2010, when I was raising funds for the Ward 4 construction, a former PCV from 2005 Angela Blood, who lived right outside Nhlangano was helping AMICAALL when they were constructing this Center, she began a typical Peace Corps project that is run all over the world which is painting world maps on walls. She was unable to finish it and through Facebook we connected. And I promised her that I would finish her map before I left. This promise is the reason why this happen, so often you see unfinished project littering Swaziland from massive construction projects right the middle of "downtown" Mbabane to homes. So seeing this map on regular basis unfinished just kept me inspired to finish it. To finish a project is something I am actually very good at doing & have found that truly my experience managing movies which is all about finishing almost minute by minute has just become a part of me. So finishing the map was important to me. But Joseph had decided that since the map was unfinished since 2005 & the paint wasn't good anymore, it needed to be painted over. I informed Angela. So Obed got the job.

Back inside the class, the students pull off some cool designs.

And some not so cool.

But by now the students are totally focused in their art, I could see it as they painted, corrected covered over and changed their work. Sifiso, of the Mathendele Boys learned a very hard lesson, by sketching super detailed sketches he wasted lots of time, when it came time to paint he lost all the detail & then became very frustrated unable to finish. But that is learning and Joseph was teaching painting not sketching. Valdez showed very little of the talent that I saw on the street or is on my wall. He was having a great time being the more active with questions and super active with the Jackson Pollack. So it was surprising to see what he was drawing.

And then there was Sambulo sitting near the door painting a bus and moving slow, twice, I had to keep asking him what goes on a bus. Tires right, use black paint, windows use white paint, next time around he is done with it sitting looking at it.

Senzo sketched a really pretty butterfly and did an excellent job of transferring it to the Bristol board with only minor changes.

Senzo was proud of the pink color he mixed. Every color you see the students mixed themselves.

The Pastor Valley students, who regularly are exposed to art & other non-Swazi culture things through a constant stream of US & European volunteers to the Orphanage, seem to excel & Thabo’s guidance helps them create landscape paintings which I was happy to see since I didn’t expect that kind of creativity. It was nice to see. Plus, the students where now having tremendous fun mixing their own colors. One area I personally learned something new from them just watching.

And so the class ended with them showing me their work, I was an easy boss to most making suggestions on how they could make their work easier for the wall work they would be doing the next day. We also spent the last session explaining the life of an artist. And that a person has to throw out much of the normal rules of a working life and I hoped what they learn in the class gave them confidence to produce artwork that think as something that could be sold. The artists told their stories plus literally how they make money. And Thabo encouraged them that even though no one in their family will really understand they have to be strong to fight the culture that is against the idea of being an artist. So that is how the first day ended in class. We went back to my place to Braii & retire to bed early.

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