Friday, April 30, 2010

Lauren's Spring Break

Constantly forgetting its official title, we call one of Lauren's courses "The Guatemala Class." She wanted to participate in a mission trip, and this class included a week teaching art to children in a Mayan village in the highlands of Guatemala.

Lauren and her fellow students (only about 15--they had to apply) spent the beginning of the semester learning about the highlands culture and creating lessons that would be meaningful to the children. One consideration was materials--they wanted the villagers to be able to repeat the crafting with supplies available in their area. Over spring break, the class traveled and taught. The rest of the semester is being spent creating art in response to the trip; those projects will be auctioned off next month, with the proceeds benefitting the Guatemalan art education program.

Lauren had a wonderful time, and shared some photos with us.She brought two cameras along, and took zillions of photos. Really: 17 rolls of black and white film (>600 shots) and about 1,000 digital pictures (not counting the deleted ones)!Before reaching the village, the group spent time in Guatemala City, Panajachel, and Chichicastenango.The market places were full of colorful people and their wares.The bright, hand-dyed, hand-woven textiles are gorgeous. I wish you could fill your screen with a larger version of this photo!The view from a bus. Interestingly, Lauren said the air was bad everywhere in Guatemala, with smog and pollution in the cities and wind-blown dust in the mountains along with smoke from burning sugar cane.Lauren worked with some of the youngest children. These life-size dolls were traced, cut, and sewn together with some kind of fabric/insulation cloth from a hardware store. The children decorated both sides--one in traditional dress, the other in the garb of their future selves/careers. I think. I'm a little hazy on the details.
All the VCU students had a great time working with and getting to know the local children.
It wasn't all teaching. The college students also attended demonstrations by local crafters.Lauren managed to bring home a vase made of recycled glass.Most fascinating was the textile work by the women of a cooperative. Thread is knotted then hand-dyed
and woven.
A true art exchange.

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