Mathare Art Exhibit

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As a celebration to mark the completion of the painting class that the kids have been coming to every Saturday we decided to honor their hard work and dedication by putting on an art show! Anything to have a party, right?! So leading up to Friday night I spent many hours working with the children to crop their paintings, paint heavy paper to then matt their paintings, cut matts, hang the paintings, and then finally to label names and titles on each. It was a big process but my students were SO excited about the exhibit that they were eager to do whatever they could to help….which is actually normal- this eagerness to help. Gosh I love them!

So anyways, the day of the exhibit we were actually pretty on top of things- I picked up a few more things in town on my way to Mathare and then met the kids and my friend Godfrey who helped me hang the paintings that the kids and I had matted the days before. We decked out the shabby orange walls of the inspiration center with as many paintings as possible! 2 rolls of duct tape, 2 rolls of masking tape, and a tube of super glue is what held them there… and the ones stuck with super glue- good luck ever getting them down! It was also great to have enough time to walk around to each painting that was hung and write the students name and give them the oppurtunity to title their art. At first when I’d ask them for the title they’d give me a confused face but eventually they got the idea and would remind me if I forgot to label a piece. During this whole time of hanging and prep the babycare was going on and then the teens came for a dance practice in the afternoon. So as we set up paintings you were stepping around babies and walking through a pretty crowded room of teenagers and loud music… but really everyone was there to help so it wasn’t too bad.

At 4 we started. We set the benches outside for the kids to sit and Moses organized the speakers and mic’s outside on the cement step outside the Inspiration Center so we had a makeshift stage to speak to our audience of mostly children. After welcoming everyone I explained that we would let about 10 people into the exhibit at a time so that people could had time to look at the paintings in a less crowded and relaxed way meanwhile we would have a talent show going on on stage as entiretainment while poeple wait. This is not hard to pull off because the kids here are so talented in dancing and singing! So for about an hour and a half there was art exhibiting inside and dance and singing contests outside- like a Mathare Idol- winner gets a fanta soda!

After this time a few rewards were given: to the person who had written the most thoughtful answer about why they liked a certain painting in the exhibit, and then each child who participated in the painting class and art show recieved a certificate of completion. They were so happy; I was so happy too.

Come next year I think we will do sculpture!

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