Tag Archives: Artists Ventures

Monday Mural Mombasa


I woke up sweating= Mombasa heat. The kids were so excited to start the day that I didnt even need to bother ringing the bell at 6:30 because even by 6 am about half the kids were already up and running around, playing outside. Soon the music was playing from one of the classrooms where we set up the mikes and keyboard for worship and devotions. After breakfast we had assembly and taught the children a song about Unity before splitting them up into their classes (they had to choose just one for the entire week- including poetry, dance, drama, mural painting, photography, and music).

In mural painting class it was me and the Rasta’s as I call them. These are 2 of my good friends that I have gotten to know through Goldmines Foundation both are Rastafarian and have some strict practices: growing out their dreads, covering their hair, eating no animal products, and doing absolutely nothing on Saturdays (their sabbath). Besides the weed, these guys are awesome. They connected very well with the kids, many whom have been in my saturday painting classes, and took the initiative to instruct and facilitate the teaching. The first day we sat underneath a tree for shade and after presenting the initial image idea to the kids we gave them oil pastels to begin the initial drawing. The idea was to have shacks on one side and highrise buildings and rich homes on the other side. Then in the middle there would be a scale with one fat guy on one side and a bunch of skinny hungry people on the other side of the scale. This speaks out on the problems of inequality that even exist among the people on Nairobi.

Besides the initial idea, these children owned this painting. I realized that I could approach the mural in 2 ways- one being for my ultimate purpose for it to look as good as possible and the other for these kids to do everything on their own (with my guidance) and learn as they go. I opted for the second way. So after the initial sketch this mural was looking pretty overcrowded, disorganized, and confusing. But then I suggested starting with a green background on the town side and brown background on the slum side and this really simplified and clarified. After painting this and the sky the kids started painting the buildings and the entire background that would be the backdrop to the scale. Each kid was enthusiastic to contribute. I have 4 guys from my saturday painting class, David, Collins, Brian, and Samson, who are always so enthusiastic always about painting so they really took on the challenge to paint the mural. Also, Sabina, this adorable little 8 yr old girl was the only girl in the class and really held her own in the group of older boys. Through these 4 days of teaching we talked about a different element of unity each day- so the first day’s was we belong and I asked them to say one thing they belong to.


Art Camp Sunday Travel


After getting very little sleep from the previous night I loaded on a bus with 2 volunteers for the US, Brenda and Kevin Ochieng from Goldmines, and Astrid from Switzerland and we set out on our 7 hour bus trip to the Coast! When we arrived the bus with the children were still on their way so that us volunteers were able to set up and prepare for their coming. I recived a text from Moses earlier saying that their were “77 humans” loaded onto a 51 seated bus headed our way. The situation was so chaotic that they actually were passing the kids through the windows of the bu in order to make as many people fit as possible. These kids were so excited that not even a cramped ride in a bus for 7 hours would deter them. When the kids did arrive, however, the ride took its toll on a few of the kids as some were carsick or dehydrated from the ride- but they made it. The idea of traveling to Mombasa is elevated almost to the same level as going to America, everyone wants to go visit Mombasa but many never end up going- however our kids from Mathare got this chance! We split the children up so that each volunteer had 3-4 kids to chaperone when we traveled to the beach and Fort Jesus. Yvonne, one of my girls, looked at me and said, “you know this is a chance of a lifetime that I will never forget and I may never get again”. This shows just how much this trip meant to these children.

That night we had a filling meal of Ugali, Sakuma (collard greens) and nyama (cow meat) and then projected a silent movie (because we were lacking one of the cables) onto the side of one of the buildings. After this the kids went to bed- sleeping in 5 classrooms that were converted to dormitories by sticking bunkbeds and mattresses in the rooms.

Kazuri Beads Field Trip!


    Arts from Below went on our first field trip this week! 10 artists loaded into a Matatu and headed to Karen to see how the women at Kazuri make the ceramic beads and then design the jewelry. We were walked through the entire production process! Seeing the steps from how the clay is purified; how the beads are rolled out in uniform size; dried fired glazed fired; then strung as a necklace or bracelet that has already been designed. This was an opportunity for our artists, many of whom are beadwork artists, to see how others are designing their jewelry and gain understanding and inspiration into this unique “niche” of art-marking.