This past summer I had the privilege of serving overseas in the city of Morogoro in Tanzania, Africa. I had received this opportunity after an application and interviewing process through the service trip program here at Marywood. The furthest I had traveled prior to this trip was Disney World, Florida, so it was without a doubt a big step for myself to take. Not only was I beginning to live my dream of traveling but I was also serving which is one of my biggest passions and I was exposed to another culture which is one of the greatest opportunities one can be presented. While in Africa, myself along with a team of 11 tutored English at the Bigwa Secondary School, visited an orphanage, and explored other organizations that ASEC (African Education Sisters Collaborative) ran.
Everyday provided my eyes with a new picture of inspiration. The sights that I had seen and the people I had met were once in a lifetime experiences I will never forget. Not only did this experience touch me in ways that made me realize how fortunate I am, showed me how beautiful human beings can be, and showed me how big of a world we live in, but this experience touched me artistically. While on this trip I felt the inner artist in me constantly surfacing. I would look at a sunset and imagine the painting I could attempt in replication of its beauty or look into an orphan’s eyes hoping I would remember every detail so I could later sketch out these eyes and be able to capture their haunting expression.
One of my favorite days spent in Africa was the day that the team and I decided to have an art day with the students at Bigwa School. We set up a large amount of art supplies we had brought with us in the front of one of the classrooms and then let the girls go crazy. There were pictures of animals, flowers, people, and many hearts. It was the best time ever. I loved watching the girls create whatever they wanted with art supplies they are not always able to use. I loved watching them enjoy art. I loved seeing the cultural differences in art but seeing the universality in the enjoyment of creativity. I loved all of it! It just made me love my major and future career path in art therapy even more.
The artwork of the locals in Africa inspired me so much. The vibrant colors they would use. The texture their work would have as a result of the application process they applied to their work. The craft of their wood carvings.The subject matter of the beauty of the land, creatures, and people around them. All of their artwork really touched me. I had bought a number of artwork while in Africa both to support the local artists and to look back on it to feel the same inspiration I felt when I was first exposed to the artwork of Africa.
It amazes me the power art has in that is can travel across cultures. There is a special place for art in any part of the world. Even more astounding is that art still holds individuality according not only to the artist but the culture which it is made within. Although different in style, subject matter, and interpretation in different cultures, art is art. And that is a wonderful thing. Art is art no matter what appearance it takes on from one place in this world to the next. Art is art whether it is from a poor local or a rich entrepreneur. Art is art whether it is created in the developing world or if it is created in an already developed world. Art is art whether it comes from Tanzania, Africa or Scranton, Pennsylvania. Art is art.