Tag Archives: children’s art

La Vereda Mural: Finished!

23 Mar

So now that we’ve been back in NYC for a couple of weeks and are unpacked and settled, I finally have the time to post about our last week in DR working with the children of La Vereda and the completion of their beautiful mural!

I wanted to leave each child with a parting gift, and since we had plenty of art supplies left over from our classes, I decided to divide everything up into little art packs for the children.  Renzo and I decided we would give one to each child at the mural celebration party we had planned:

pack of art supplies

handmade sketchbooks for the kids using leftover paper

packing up parting gifts for the children

renzo and I had fun decorating the packs of art supplies

The last session of our mural painting was really exciting!  We had asked the children to think about the type of animals they might see, and we provided visual references for them to work from.  In addition we did some last minute touch ups and added a few details including a banner held by two birds in the sky which reads “Painted by the Children of La Vereda 2012”.

Here are some images of our last day of painting:

sunny day in the campo

guillermo painting his amazing cow

working on the mural

beautiful smile, beautiful painting

black cat, white cat

working hard!

having fun with the kids painting!

Some details:

samba, rooster, pig & lamb

cherry tree

zanahorias y flores

la vaca!

burro

muy bonita!

Renzo and I organized a mural celebration as a culminating event for the children.  We had snacks and music, and we had a chance to give the children their art packs and say goodbye.  It was bittersweet.

fiesta de las pinturas!

fiesta fun!

hermanas lindas!

cico dancing!

good times at our party

smiling chicas

emily, diana y bebe

guillermo with his package of art supplies

One last pic of the painters and the finished mural:

Celebrating our work!

Those last few days in DR were quite a whirlwind of painting, celebrating, saying goodbyes, and packing!  It turned out we had WAY more stuff with us than we could bring back on the plane, so we ended up giving plenty of things away.  I had some extra art supplies from my personal stash that I decided to give to Diana and Guillermo, two of the older students in our art class who happen to be siblings.  I was really touched when we stopped by their house to see that the project had inspired them to start making paintings at home using the supplies from their art packs…and what made it even better was that their dad was painting with them!  It turns out their dad likes to paint and has paintings all over their home.  It was just lovely to see a family making and enjoying art together.  We left the cans of varnish and brushes with them and they promised to put a clear coat on top of the mural for us.

Here is a before and after of the full mural:

Before

Before

 

After.  The mural really brightens up the block!

After. So beautiful!

I hope the children remain proud of their work.  It is quite amazing that our group started with no formal art experience!  I think the children have created a beautiful gift for their community.  I love their painting and I hope the people of La Vereda enjoy it for quite some time.  I would love to see more opportunities for children in the campo to express their creativity.

Well this may be my last post.  I would love to post once more to just recap my favorite images from our 5 months in Dominican Republic, but the reality is now that we are back in NYC we are in full baby-preparation mode so time is limited these days.  We’ll see.

Thanks to everyone who followed the blog and our journey for all of these months.  It was really an incredible and life-changing experience and I feel so grateful to everyone in our lives who supported us (family, friends, & employers) and made our journey possible.

Now, we are embarking on yet another journey…parenthood!  So it’s only fitting that there will be a new blog coming soon…

http://www.rootsnyc.com

I haven’t set it up, so there’s nothing to see or read there quite yet.  But I promise to send out an email and post on facebook once it’s up and running.

Once again, gracias para todo tu amor y soporte!

Much, much love to you all!

xo A

La Vereda Children’s Mural (Mucho Mejor!)

19 Feb

MUCHO MEJOR

Today we held our fourth mural painting session with the children of La Vereda.  Our new system was mucho mejor!  I am so happy we figured this out.  Like most organizational concepts, it was pretty simple.  As the children arrived we had them sign their name on a list.  The first 5 students would paint for 30 minutes, then the next 5 and so on.

Painting sign-up sheet.

We told each child what time their painting slot was and asked them to come back at their scheduled time.  Almost all of them were happy to comply with the new system though there were several very persistent little cuties who just could not contain their excitement enough to leave and come back, but instead insisted on hanging around until it was their turn.  Lol.  We tried our best to keep them in the shade since it was so hot!  In any case the new system was delightful, allowing for so much more organization and the small group made working more pleasant for the children, as well as us.  There were beautiful moments of little voices chattering about their painting, and even moments of silence as the children found that wonderful space inside the creative process where one is in the so-called “zone” or engaged in what we can also call “flow”, a theory proposed by physchologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  You can read more about the concept of “flow” here.

One of the great parts of the day was the interest of passerby, neighbors, and family.  We had quite a few people stop to watch and admire the children working.  Some were surprised the children had done all of the painting on their own.  We also had a few children we’d never met before pass by and ask if they could participate and because our new system was so efficient it was much more easy to include anyone who expressed interest.  It was really super to feel enthusiasm for the project from the community.

Children painting. Notice the three passerby who stopped to watch us work.

The children did such fantastic work with the mural!  They started out by fixing up some spots from our last session.  Then they added casitas, matas de coco (coconut palms), and a mata de mango (mango tree).  The wee little ones did a great job adding fruits and veggies to the “tierra” layer of the mural.  They painted zanahorias (carrots), cebollas (onions), yucca (cassava), tomate (tomatoes), and calabaza (squash).

Here’s what the mural looks like now:

Lookin' good!

Phew!  After 2 1/2 hours working in the hot sun Renzo and I were quite sweaty, hungry, and thirsty.  As usual Luz & Robert had a delicious Dominican lunch waiting for us.  Before we headed home, Renzo wanted to stop by the back of his Grandfather’s house to see if we could grab some guava off the tree.  We saw some ripe ones but they were pretty high up.  After a few minutes of throwing rocks at the hanging guava, Renzo’s Tio Victor came out of the house to show us how it’s done:

Tio Victor climbing the guayaba tree

Climbing trees is no big deal around here, lol

One of my favorite things about Dominican culture (and Carribean culture in general) is how ready and willing people are to climb just about any tree to procure fruit!  No one around here ever seems too tired or busy to hoist themselves up a tree to grab you something tasty.  There’s something so free-spirited and generous about this characteristic of the culture that I think is very special.  Think about that the next time you feel too tired to get off the couch to get your sweetheart a tasty treat from the kitchen! Jaja.

As we were about to leave with our guayaba (guava) I told Renzo I was craving agua de coco (coconut water) and I asked if he could find out from Victor where we could get some.  Earlier in the day we had seen some vendors passing by but we were too busy painting with the children to bother with buying any.  Of course Victor’s response was something along the lines of “Why buy coconuts, just go out back and get some off the tree.”  So another tree-climbing venture ensued, though this time help was enlisted from Renzo’s very-skilled-at-tree-climbing cousin.  He must have knocked down about a dozen coconuts for us to take home.  (Did I mention Samba LOVES coconuts?  Playing with them, eating them, drinking from them…they are his favorite tropical doggie toys!)  The one they opened for me was soooooooo sweet and delicious!  I am really savoring these special moments with such little time left here.

Ask & you shall receive... agua de coco. YUM

All in all it was a beautiful day.

Here is a slideshow with some pics:

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More updates on the mural (& our plants) in the next few days…

xo A

More work on the La Vereda Mural

15 Feb

I never knew this before but working on a public community mural (with kids no less) can be really tricky!  I’ve only ever facilitated mural-making teaching inside the classroom where you’ve got a certain degree of control over the environment, and can kind of manage the pace of the work and assist kids with thinking about composition and details.

This is a whooooollllle different ball game.

First, we are working on a fairly trafficked and often noisy street.  It’s not like the constant type of background traffic type noise you find in NYC.  It’s like short clips of relative quiet pierced with the REALLY LOUD BUZZ of the frequent motoconchos (motorbikes) and trucks grinding by.  So loud that you really can’t hear what the person next to you is saying.  On top of that, all of the kids in our class plus practically every kid that walks by wants a chance to paint, and it’s really had explaining to a 6 year old whose language you don’t speak very well that there’s “Just no more space at the moment but if you come back Saturday I promise you can have a chance then.”  I am beyond thrilled that the children in the neighborhood are so excited about the project- in fact I hoped exactly that would happen, but managing so many kids painting all at the same time has it’s challenges.  We don’t really have much set-up time because as soon as the children see us pull up in the car they get so excited, they immediately round up all their friends and before you know it we’re practically swarmed with kids eager to look, see, touch, grab, do, etc, etc.  Getting the children involved in the set-up is something we are trying to get better at, but the seasoned teacher (me) is still learning the language, and though the laid-back musician does the best he can things easily get lost in translation, and as all teachers (and plenty of parents) know- timing is everything when organizing large groups of kids.

Did I mention that Renzo is related to almost everyone on the block in some way?  Well, it’s pretty easy to recognize the guy with the funny hair, and despite the fact that we can have a mob of impatient children waiting for paint, or needing a paintbrush, or we finally have them all listening to instructions, every so often someone passes by and decides that it’s the absolute PERFECT time to catch up and have a conversation with him about his studies, the weather, the meaning of life, & what have you.  I kid you not but he’s actually been handed a beer while we were teaching our class!

LOL.

So when we met up with the children yesterday evening, it was just kind of par for the course that there was a dark gray rain cloud kind of hanging over our heads the whole time.  We assessed the cloud situation (being the rain experts we are now having lived in Santiago for a few months) and just said let’s go for it and hope for the best.  We got lucky and the weather held out enough for us to work for a good 40 minutes or so before we had to do a mad rush to pack everything up before the rain came down.

It was pretty chaotic with about 12-14 kids working at the same time.  It definitely wasn’t the way I would have preferred to structure the activity (laughing at the word structure here) but the kids who showed up had been waiting since Saturday to paint, and with the impending rain there wasn’t time to rotate small groups so we had to wing it.  We focused on painting trees (matas) and flowers (flores) and a sun (sol).  Despite the craziness I’m happy that the kids enjoyed themselves and love the work they did.  I know this is how murals grow..in little layers and spurts.

It’s just a start, but here are some pics:

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Our next session is this weekend and we are almost definitely going to have an even larger group show up. (When we were painting on Tuesday lots of new kids passed by and expressed interest so we just told them to show up on Saturday).  Don’t laugh- but I have a plan to have kids sign in then give them give them a number.  Numbers 1-6 will paint for the first 30 minutes, 7-13 the next half hour, and so on.  The great thing is that they all live so close by that if they’re scheduled for a later painting group they can easily go home and come back when it’s their turn, and we don’t mind being there all day if need be.  I have no idea if this is going to work…but it’s the only way I can think of to accommodate all the children without having total chaos.  I know for sure the smaller groups will make for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Can’t wait to see what happens at our next class!

xo A