The month of October has officially passed me by now and it stuns me to think that I have already been in Nairobi for 2 months. Preparations for the Diaspora of Hope Art Camp are beginning to become a main focus now and so part of my week was clarifying logistics, meeting with people here to discuss our options of where the camp will be held, and sending out donation letters to anyone interested in sending these children in Mathare to the art camp. Crazy as it may sound, it boils down to $15.00 per child for a whole week to pay for one child to go- so we have been asking people if they would commit to sponsor even just one child to attend.
Another portion of my week was spent surrounding the Arts from Below artist group. Although we filled out artist statement papers last time and I walked the artists through how to get a computer access card at CTM to use the computers, type their artists statements up and then form a printable artist profile- none of the artists have done this. Neither do many of them have a solid collection of their artwork, even if we do find businesses that are willing to display. So this Thursday I looked into how to encourage these artists from the point where they are personally with their artwork. In the meeting we discussed three main topics including artist statements, producing a unified body of artwork, and networking with fellow arts, friends, and businesses to promote your own artwork. I challenged the artists to write tangible goals down that they thought they could accomplish in the month of November. Our meetings during this month will be a bit different, however, since we will focus the topic of the meeting to be about the Diaspora of Hope camp, with the intention on having as many Arts from Below Artists as possible come and volunteer their talents with us during that 1 week.
In the painting class this Saturday I made a big decision which I hope I don’t regret… I had many of the children in the younger class, actually a majority of them, graduate from the class this week. I felt a huge wave of relief and sadness at the same time. Sadness because I love these cute little kids and their ever-smiling faces but relief because although I have tried to problem solve each class how to teach these children I am now ready to admit that 3-5 year old kids may lack the proper motor skills necessary to learn how to paint. Many of these kids are my most consistent students too, but when even writing their name is too hard, then painting in a group setting involves even more challenges. At the same time though, I sensed that the children that will remain in the class were breathing a sigh of relief that the smaller children were finished with painting, because the class can become quite loud and chaotic. My hope is that I can still maintain a relationship with the small children by seeing them on Saturdays and Sundays despite them not being a part of the painting any more. Next saturday will be difficult in its own way, however, because although the kids were happy that they received graduation certificates, I do not think it sunk into their heads that this marked their last painting class, although I did explain it to them.