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.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

LA (soon to be) Wall Art Part 1

 So back when Joseph was painting his first mural on the Ward 4 Social Center.  I was inspired to create the Art Class (along with other inspirations) but one of them was also that I wanted to remember my time here in Swaziland through a piece of art.  Well, I am returning to America with several new pieces of art.  And where ever I land (an apartment in Northridge) for the foresee able future I will have art that not only is presentable but meaningful.

And so here is the artwork that I have acquired.

Let's start with "The Road to Nhlangano" by Obed Mushlebe Chipwepwe.
So during the Free Art Class, the artists brought down a blank canvas which they demonstrated painting on canvas to the students.  When the students were working on their own individual pieces, Obed began on this one by sketching the road.  Since it was common for the students to do to much detail on their sketches his rough out line was used as an example.  This was more of a working example as it was being painted.  He used the colors the students mixed and then mixed those colors showing some the students how to make colors other than the regular easily mixed ones.  I personally had no real interest in the piece.  But it was brought back to my house after the class.  And since I bought the canvas with the budget money, technically it was mine.

But I wasn't very interested in because I just didn't connect with the piece.  My service here has been in town not rural and yes I have taken many Khumbis (vans like the one pictured) and I really don't like cows.  But then a very interesting thing happened when I asked him if it had a name.  He said "The Road to Nhlangano" since it very easily and was inspired by the area leading into the town I have just lived in for 2 years.  And then all of sudden just because of the name and then seeing the symbolism of my journey to Nhlangano through the Peace Corps.  I claimed the piece.

Because its true when I look at I will remember so many trips in the Khumbi's through these rural lands with cows walking out onto the highways or just standing next to road eating.  The subject of this painting is such a common thing to see here that just looking at I was like Whatever.  But in a few years, I will look at it a whole different way.

Obed in the background painting it.

"The Road to Nhlangano" taken on my front porch.

Next up is Senzo's bird.  During the most recent project Senzo returned to help paint the Ward 2 Social Center.  At the end of the Free Art Class's post 2 days of painting which Senzo just helped paint the Center.  I told him that if he created some art I would buy, if I liked it.  He was able to inherit some of the paint left over from the class.  And so just painting on a regular piece of cardboard he created the above.  Its not very big not even the size of a floor tile. It was still wet when I bought it from him.  Even though he got everything free that he used to make it.  I questioned him before buying it, how much money was he making on the piece? Then I asked him to think how much it would have cost him if he paid for some of the supplies. And more important for his time making it. He threw out E50, which was what I was expecting to pay, I would have bought it for pretty much any price he quoted me.  I was happy to support him and I hope continues to find ways to make more art and even more important sell whatever he makes.  So that day he made E75 painting the building & E50 selling his artwork.  E50 is a normal days rate here, so he did good And its really pretty, I can't wait to frame it.  

And then there is Sambulo's  artwork. So Sambulo is an orphan.  From what I have been told he doesn't really have any direct family left around him.  This is a very common thing here in Swaziland since AIDS has just been wiping out the 20-40 year old generation.  Which since he is 16 and been on his own now for a few years mostly likely means his parents were killed by HIV.  Its an assumption but a fair one. Like Senzo when we finished painting post the Free Art Class, I told him if he painted me something I would buy it.

What you see above is the Bristol board, he painted in the class.  But he changed it up a bunch.  Below on the left is his bus he actually painted in the class.  During the class he was struggling and its obviously he is learning and has no real training and quite possibly not a lot artistic ability for drawing real life objects.  But art isn't always about drawing real life stuff. 

So when Sambulo went to paint on the Ward 2 Social Center he changed up his artwork quite a bit.  Seen to the right is his permanent work on the building. The monkey sitting on the branch was a Joseph addition.  So when you look at final one above he began to start to understand the abstract way of painting. I was very surprised to see his work.  He had actually dropped it off for me to look at (and buy) but I had had to go to town to solve some issue or buy something not sure which, probably both.  So I had come back and all the work was done & the place was empty.  I spotted it in the store room.  Impressed & surprised with what he came up with.  The next day Joesph was coming to Nhlangano, so I told Sambulo to come over when Joseph was there.  He showed up got some selling advice from Joseph similar to what I gave Senzo.  So when he threw out the price of E150, I was really surprised he went that high and although it was more than I expected to pay, I happily paid it.  The size is several floor tiles both ways.  So it is now making for an interesting challenge packaging it to mail home. (See the picture below to see the size)

But here is the real reason why I was super happy to see his artwork.  What is below is the reverse side.   

So I am huge GI Joe Comic Book fan, I have collected the comics since 1982, I have a huge collection over 2000 just GI Joe comics, I don't collect any other comics just Joe, I been to the conventions, I am the Senior Editor of's Comic Book Section, worked on the first movie, the list just goes on.  GI Joe has been a part of my life for 30 years.  And during my time here I had my mom whenever a package arrived it had to included real GI Joe comics.  Even during my stay here my comic book store in LA has been collecting them for me so I don't miss a one.  Well, I had brought several Joe comic books to the Art Class but totally forgot to show them to the students as examples of art people get paid to do.  Now even over here they all know Spider Man, Batman, Superman, etc, (side note it seems like kids comic book t shirts must just be dumped on Africa since nearly every kid has one with some character on them like the Avengers, X-Men, Wolverine, Hulk, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern are others I have seen).  Of course GI Joe is a toy first and pretty much now as a comic just for the collectors my age.  Not to many kids are reading GI Joe comics.  So as I was cleaning up post the Free Art Class several of the comics had had paint spilled on them and tossed them out all wet, but this one is GI Joe A Real American Hero  #166 written by Larry Hama was on the bottom and not covered in paint.  So I gave it to him.  Telling him I loved these comics he should draw something from them that I could buy.

Ok, so back to the store room the next morning when I saw the reverse side.  I picked up the first time I didn't turn it over so I hadn't seen Shipwreck (the character the bird's name is Polly).  So the next morning when I arrived I picked up the piece but this time I turned it over to see his work.  The biggest smile came over my face.  He drew the cover, which the original is below.  So of course there is no way for him to trace it and he drew it knowing I would like and BUY IT.  He didn't just copy the colors he did his own thing and what is cool is that he had to mix some of the colors from the left over paint he received.  This is for sure going on the wall and I am going to find some creative way to frame it so it can be reversed.  So both sides can be showcased.

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