This past summer I had the once in a lifetime experience of traveling to Tanzania, Africa with a team of students from Marywood University and Chesnut Hill College through ASEC (African Sisters Education Collaborative) to tutor English in a Secondary school and visit orphanages of the area. Previously I had blogged about the amazing inspiration through the sights of Africa while there as well as the artwork by the locals.
Although the art was beautiful and amazing I felt that as an artist these inspiring scenes and sights would be served an injustice if I as an artist did not reflect artistically on them. The use of journaling while in Africa was extremely useful. When you have an experience of a lifetime especially when immersed in another culture reflection is vital. However, my true expression is through the arts so I felt my reflection would not be complete if I hadn’t created in response to what I saw and felt overseas.
My first piece incorporated a personal touch using actual photos from our trip in a collage. The experience of collaging was even personal to myself because of the many uses of collage in art therapy. It is an extremely useful and powerful process within the field. In this collage I purposely placed images based on color to have the ending arrangement resemble the Tanzanian flag. To connect the piece further, the meaning of the colors in each section of the flag also corresponded to the content of the pictures. The green symbolizing the land of Tanzania was composed of pictures taken of the fields we rode through. The yellow representing the minerals of the land were close up pictures of the sunsets we saw everyday. The blue representing the Indian Ocean incorporated the pictures taken during our visit to the Indian ocean in which if you look closely you can see myself and team members swimming in that section of the flag. The black representing the Swahili people are made of the many pictures we took of our friends we had met and formed relationships with in Tanzania.
My second piece I recently created was an oil painting of a pair of very special eyes. When we visited the orphanage, where once again a language barrier forced us to communicate in alternative ways, we got to know the many little eyes of the children. Their eyes were haunting and longing for love. One pair of eyes specifically belonged to a little orphan boy named Pascal. His big eyes were hard to miss and even more impossible not to fall in love with. I painted those big eyes and tried to capture the longing and love I saw in them which seemed nearly impossible.
These are only two works that have been created thus far. There is still so much more to create. So much more inspiration of the remarkable culture of Africa is still at work in my mind. I will always look back on those weeks in reflection. From there I will turn that reflection into expression. And that is when I create art. Because Inspiration + Reflection + Expression = Art.