Last Thursday was our first Art from Below artists meeting in the Kibera slum. The turnout was less than I anticipated so we had an abundance of bread and chai but even so, leftovers were not an issue. I was told that Kenyans- especially men- have no problem inhaling a whole loaf of bread all for themselves so actually we had zero left over even though I had bought 8 loaves of bread for only 15 people! We started the meeting more like 5 pm, rather than 4 because of waiting for people to arrive, which made me feel uncomfortable in my western mindset but is good for me to step back and let things happen without trying to exercise control.
We started things off by introducing ourselves and then going into an icebreaker in order to get to know one another better and that seemed to loosen everyone up and be a big hit. There were artists who worked with a variety of mediums, including photography, interior design, musicians, drama, weaving, bead work, poetry, painting and drawing, and t-shirt printing. We brainstormed on some big sheets of paper in front about what our hopes are for this group and this is what we came up with…
- to market our art for a better, fair price and a wider audience
- to form an exchange program where we can learn skills from other artists
- to host different events such as the Diaspora of Hope Art Camp, seminars, community projects, ect.
- to create employment through selling art
- to have an art exhibition,gallery
- to use art to educate society and raise awareness
- to bring publicity to the artist
Now I am challenged as to how to unite this very diverse group of artists in a way that encompasses some of the goals we have brainstormed and to do it in a way where they can take ownership of the meetings and the vision.