Art is messy. The outcome may be seem considerate, sharp, fine as the empty space of the surrounding walls in an exhibition calm the energy of the page, masking the unseen madness pursuant to the cause.
Recently, I have observed the unraveling of the most dedicated and the most procrastinating students alike as they mounted their senior exhibition. Rampant tears, as a cardboard installation slowly unwinds its way off the walls after countless hours of work. Sweating out the problem-solving. Pen-knife wounds from label cutting. Late nights, early mornings. Rumpled, smelly hair. The final countdown. Continue reading “Art Messes”
Roughly ten days ago I visited Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with a batch of eager youngsters who are ready to save the world. I may be an art teacher, but I cannot escape my past experience in social justice, community organizing, and community arts; as such I get to enjoy the privilege of extending these experiences to non-art students.
In Dar, we attended a summit, where students from international schools across Africa congregated to discuss and share their involvement in their respective communities, such as Kinshasa, Harare, Luanda, Arusha. The sharing of stories extended to author Ishmael Beah, who spoke of growing up in Sierra Leone, his recruitment as a child soldier, and his involvement in the project Narrative 4. Student-led workshops shared high school research projects dealing with topics as sensitive as female genital mutilation (FGM) and the movement of refugees. Continue reading “Opening Minds”
Looking down my neighborhood roads, thick, plump greenery create late spring-like tunnels, synonymous with my sense of northerly May. The evenings are gentle and light after days full of sun and golden heat. Flowers are gracing the sidewalks, boldly emerging left, right and center – hollyhocks, tulip trees, sweetpeas, nasturtiums and many other varieties I haven’t names for. Cairo is in bloom! And out of the blue, a bit of orange sweetness was brought to my desk; a gift from sympathetic students. This burst of color within my flat and on the outskirts follows news of a beloved friend receiving a good prognosis. Unburdened indeed!
Half a year later, it is time for Part II. South Africa is filling my head. In many ways, whenever you are not “present,” you are either thinking of the past or future. In which case you are remembering or anticipating. As South Africa becomes more distant memory, its sweetness rises to the surface. Continue reading “Adjustment: Part II”
Saturday is Sunday. Or rather, Saturday is the 2nd day of my weekend here in Egypt. I can never keep the days of the week straight. Because if Saturday is like a Sunday, then a Sunday is like a Monday, Tuesday becomes hump day, and Thursday is the crowned jewel Friday. Confused yet? Friday feels the most like a western Sunday, when the mornings are quiet, people are slow to rise, culminating in an audible noontime, holy-day call to prayer.
My Saturday today consisted of rising early, breakfast on my narrow balcony, yoga, lunch with a friend, and a nap on my couch when I returned home. Outside, familiar weekend sounds: the soft scraping of a rake, moving methodically on the pavement. Birds calling through the trees basking in the golden temperatures. Hammering projects. It wouldn’t be Cairo, without an afternoon call to prayer, a few packs of dogs, cats in heat, gunning motorbikes, and furious honking. Two weeks before my seniors mount their art exhibition, just after writing about a million progress report comments, it doesn’t matter what day it is. This is all I need.