22 Jul 2014

‘Kapanga’ Art Workshop

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The Kapanga workshop was the first of the collaboration between The stART Foundation and Lubuto Library Projects. Situated at a Lubuto Library in Garden Compound, Lusaka, the workshop was designed by Zambian artist Mwamba Mulangala who instructed the workshop, assisted by one of stART’s Peer Educators Roy Chitwila, as well as Mulenga Chafilwa and Zenzele Chulu, volunteer artists for Lubuto Library art projects. The participants of the workshop were made up of 20 children from various organisations around Lusaka; 10 were chosen from Lubuto, and 10 from Open Arms Orphanage, Pestalozzi, and the Girl Child Orphanage in collaboration with Chikumbuso. The children ranged in age from 12 – 20 years old.

 
The theme of the workshop was based on recycling and reusing found or discarded materials which were placed as a collage onto a 60 x 45cm wooden board. The following description of the Kapanga workshop was given by Mwamba Mulangala to the participants in an initial presentation to introduce the theme a few days before the start of the workshop:

Kapanga is a Bemba word that means to create. In this context, Kapanga is a person that brings something into existence. The essence of Kapanga workshop is to expose the workshop participants to an appreciation and the inventiveness of the aesthetic and sophisticated realm of discarded materials. During Kapanga workshop, participants will be exposed to a study of the elements and principles of art with the aim of creating two-dimensional artwork using mixed media channeled through an assortment of found waste material. The underlying motivation and catalyst ideas for this workshop will be propelled by the varied participant’s personal experiences of self, others and any societal issues they are familiar with. It is hoped that this creative venture will be executed in an elaborately realistic, semi-abstract or abstract style depending on the participants’ inspiration and the workshop facilitators’ direction and discretion. At the end of this workshop, it is envisaged that the young artists emerging from this creative experience would have thought ‘outside the box’ during the workshop and also in their future creative pursuits.

The participants were also shown a video on El Anatsui’s work and work process to illustrate the theme.

 
The first step of the workshop process was for the participants to design an idea on paper, thinking about what materials they could use to execute their composition onto board. Mwamba also described briefly the elements of art – line, shape, form, colour etc – to help the children design their compositions. This process was delayed slightly as a few of the participants were late. The overall result from the first day was a positive one, all of the participants having produced a sketch with a plan for what they would use when transferring onto board.

 
On this day a couple of young boys from Lubuto, not part of the workshop group, came into the workshop area and because of their keen desire to get involved (they were hanging around the kids, watching them work and looking crestfallen that they weren’t part of it) I gave them a piece of paper each and some crayons so they could do a drawing. They were at the workshop again on the second day, asking in their little voices if they could please be involved on this day too – we gave them another piece of paper. When Daniel took his drawing to Mwamba for feedback, he asked if he could please use one of the spare boards and do the same work as the others. Mwamba asked Daniel why he thought he was ready for board work; Daniel’s response, in another very small voice, was “because I believe in myself.” Daniel completed a fine composition on board, working steadily and enthusiastically throughout.

 
On the second day, everyone brought a collection of materials which they would use on their boards. stART had provided a range of art materials – paints, glue, oil pastels as well as items such as coloured paper, mirrors, bottle tops etc – which the children used in conjunction with their own materials. The third and last day of the workshop saw the children finishing off their artworks.

 
Each participant was assessed by Mwamba throughout the workshop according the ABC assessment outcomes. Also assessed were the child’s artistic ability, work ethic and attention to instruction. A final feedback session ended the workshop. Mwamba asked the group what they had learnt, and if there was any concept that they felt needed more explanation. The general feedback was that the participants felt they had learnt a lot about how to use discarded materials creatively to produce an artwork; that to be an artist was not confined to being skilled in a medium such as paint; that drawing played a crucial role in the overall design of their artwork; and those that were late commented on the fact that they realised they had missed a substantial chunk of the learning process on the first day. The children were excited and inspired by the artworks they had created.

 
One participant that stood out in particular was a young boy from Pestalozzi, aged 16 years old, called Dumingus Njanji. Dumingus has participated in a previous stART workshop – the Chitenge Mandala workshop – and won a prize for the best artwork. Dumingus worked quietly throughout the workshop, always attentive to what was being taught, working steadily at his artwork. He designed an owl, the outer body which he made up from the husk of a maize plant, soft and curling pieces of cardboard for the downy chest feathers, two plastic yellow lids for the eyes and a triangular piece of metal for the beak. He found a stick that was particularly branch-looking which he perched the owl onto, with metal pieces for the claws of the owl’s feet. Dumingus is a talented and bright young person and has always done well at the art tasks at hand. On speaking to him, Dumingus told me that he is a refugee from Angola. His family fled to Zambia in 2000, and are currently at the same refugee camp in the Western Province of Zambia from which Pestalozzi found Dumingus and sponsored his schooling. Dumingus has a dream to pursue his education and his artistic talent in order to make something of himself so that he can get his family out of the camp and into a more comfortable situation. He spoke of finding sponsorship to get him into college where he hopes to become an engineer, pursuing his artistic talent to partly sponsor his own way. He spoke about art as being a way to access a better life for himself and his family. His completed artwork shows that he takes the idea very seriously.

 

To conclude, I would like to make an especial mention of Roy Chitwila, recently graduated peer educator and a stART success story, really came into his own as artist’s assistant at the recent workshop. He was there an hour early every day, helping out with the setting up of art materials and work space for the kids. He made sure the space was clean before each day’s session, placing each of the participant’s portfolio’s on an area of the workspace so they could find their places easily and quickly. He was quiet yet authoritative with the kids. Roy would settle everyone into their places, keeping them quiet to listen to what Mwamba would say (Mwamba would make an initial presentation of the day’s plan at each session.) Roy would work slowly around the room making sure that everyone was ok with what they were doing, that they had grasped what it was that they were supposed to be doing. He was also the ‘technical advisor’: allocating paints, wood glue etc accordingly and making sure there was no wastage and that materials were kept well. He was always ready to help out, I have numerous photos of him leaning over one or other kid and pointing something out to them, or perhaps helping them with the line or form of their initial drawing on board. At the end of each day Roy would wrap the session up by getting kids to clear up 20 minutes before the end of the day, ensuring that they cleaned up their area thoroughly. He made sure that all art materials were accounted for and locked away in the storage cupboard.

Roy has shown how far he has come since his mixed-up beginnings as a street-dwelling child by the way he has grown into a confident, efficient, trustworthy, reliable and talented art-mentor/ peer educator. I was very proud to see the way he carried himself throughout the entire workshop.

 

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