In 1995, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the midst of Europe, the ongoing and systematic crimes reached their abhorrent heights through the crime of genocide committed against the population of Srebrenica, a small town in Eastern Bosnia. In less than a week more than 8000 Bosnian Muslims were exterminated solely for being of different ethnicity and bearing different names. The Srebrenica genocide was committed on the very threshold of the European civilization, with the entire international community observing, and the world hardly caring at all.
Located in a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Srebrenica genocide was committed exactly fifty years after the liberation of Auschwitz when the world promised “never again.” Today, we remember this genocide and recognize the patterns of discrimination that still, everyday, lead to unspeakable crimes all around the world.
In 2004 Tarik Samarah photographed a mother from Srebrenica standing and looking at the photo depicting Anne Frank and her sister. The girls in the photo have their backs turned and the focus of the mother is not apparent to the observer. The European contemporary history and its restless narratives are symbolically united in this photograph. Knowing how easy it is to be pushed beyond the limit of what is considered civilization, it becomes impossible not to ask who will be observed next and whom will we remember in the unknowable future and in the unfathomable present? Will there be someone or is someone already there to observe our backs in the same solemn manner?
© Tarik Samarah
Gallery 11/07/95, Memorial Centre Srebrenica
Inspired by the removal of the ruins of the houses destroyed during the war in Kosovo in 1998-1999. Refki is an artist and arts educator from Theranda/Suhareka, Kosovo and one of ArtsAction Group's long-time partners.
Joseph Cornell Untitled (Hôtel de la Duchesse-Anne), 1957
Like the work of his Surrealist contemporaries, Joseph Cornell's art was often connected to the world of dreams. Based on what you can see in this Cornell box, write a short story that begins with this line: "Last night I had the strangest dream ..."
Explore more writing prompts:https://www.artic.edu/visit-us-virtually/get-creative-at-home/creative-writing-prompts
Explore the educator resource packet:
Who are the artists that inspire you in your community?
The body mapping art project can begin with students viewing a series of artworks created by traditional and/or contemporary artists who combine visual imagery with text to explore personal/cultural identity. The artists we’ve worked with in the past include Mark Bradford's merchant poster series, portraits by Sharin Nashat and paintings by Pala Pothupitiye. Local artists and popular culture are great places to go to for ideas. The website Art21 also has many artists to refer to for artmaking projects.
After viewing examples of other artists who work with text and imagery, students complete the I Am Poem (template in English/Tamil attached). This poem becomes inspiration for the visual parts of the body map art. After completing the poem, have students turn over their poem. Create 4-8 squares by folding the paper. In each square have them sketch visual symbols based on the poem.
On a large piece of paper (you can glue smaller pieces of paper together to create a large body-sized canvas) have a friend trace the outline of the student's body. You can also work small and focus on, for example, an outline of a pair of hands. Inside the outline of the body or hands, begin to design the art project using imagery and text informed by the poem.
Materials can be as simple as pencils and markers to mixed media that includes paint, college and other materials. See the Body Mapping Projects on our website for student examples from Algeria, Kosovo, Sri Lanka and the USA.
For a more in-depth process around Body Mapping and Healing, see Body Mapping for Advocacy Tool Kit by Shirley Gunn, out of the International Coalition Sites of Conscience
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic our lives have been altered in ways that none of us could have imagined. More than one billion children are impacted by the closure of schools (Sites of Conscience). While physical distancing continues, we at ArtsAction Group are finding ways of engaging virtually with individuals and communities through the arts and education. We offer our website as a resource. If we can be of service, we invite you to reach out via our contact form or social media. Stay tuned for news, activities and more on this site AND our social media sites. In loving kindness, the ArtsAction Group team.
Planning Stages for 10th Year Anniversary of ArtsAction Group and Centre for Creative Education Kosovo - March 2020 - cancelled due to Covid-19
We're in the planning stages for the 10th anniversary of our partnership with our Kosovo team. This year we'll be joined by undergraduate students from Adelphi University. Pictured here is the municipal's museum in downtown Teranda/Suhareka. We're planning on again transforming the space, inside and out, with ephemeral projection art designed and produced by the children and youth at the Centre for Creative Education/Fellbach-Haus.
Symbiosis donated much needed art supplies for our recent workshops in Sri Lanka. This is our first collaborative effort with the student group. Farah Faizuddin and Rishabh Lohray started Symbiosis at UT Dallas in May 2017 to bridge art and science at UT Dallas as well as the wider world. The Symbiosis mission is to explore the interconnectivity between art, academics, and therapeutics. They do this by volunteering with the Texas Scottish Rite Children's Hospital and helping children heal through the power of art. Our other ventures include collaborations with the Dallas Independent School District where they support underdeveloped art programs at Dallas elementary schools by conducting art drives and art auctions. At UT Dallas they have helped to foster an interdisciplinary academic environment by kick starting the Medical Humanities program which aims to teach premedical students the power of the humanities and their potential use in healing.
Painting Music Exhibition Art & Design Gallery The University Hertfordshire Art Therapy Society (UHATS)
We were joined in Sri Lanka by students from the University of Hertfordshire's Art Therapy MA program. The team used a variety of media to express their intrapersonal experience while listening to music. Taking inspiration from songs requested by members of the public, the work conveys powerful and complex emotions, visualisations and connections that music can elicit. The links between people elicited by the project extended wider still, with proceeds from the sales put towards the psychosocial project in Sri Lanka, giveing people in the conflict-affected country of Sri Lanka the opportunity to experience the therapeutic benefits of art making.
Our catalogue documenting our most recent project in Kosovo. Interested in getting a copy? Please let us know.
This year ArtsAction Group partnered with Adelphi University to bring 8 students on a study abroad experience through the university's Center for International Education. The experience was led by Professors Cindy Maguire, Hannah Allen, and Ann Holt. Study abroad experiences are notably powerful not just because of the scholarly projects they focus on, but also because of the all-encompassing experiences that the students have meeting people, experiencing new cultures, places, foods, traditions, and values. An outcome of the course included an exhibition at Adelphi and an accompanying catalogue.
Integrating Sound with Artmaking
We've returned from Theranda/Suhareka, Kosovo where we worked with 35 children and youth to create a series of interactive artworks. We had several email conversations along with video, photos and document sharing with Refki Gollopeni, teaching artist and our partner in Theranda. Based on this sharing, Refki began preparing the students for the work prior to the workshops. For the younger studnents they viewed one of our favorite Makey Makey music making videos as well as artists making interactive work such as Federico Muelas' Sonic Graphite 2B and Christine Sun Kim's Game of Skill 2.0
With the younger students we focused on incorporating the Makey Makey to add interactivity into the artmaking. Refki called upon a former student, now designer, to get the younger children's styrofoam hand-forms cut using laser cutting technology. The hands became the sculptural elements further designed and embellished by the students using mixed media. The work with the younger students was held over two days for a total of four hours in the studio. Check out our short video about the work.
The projects we produce with the Centre have several aims and goals, depending upon student and community needs. Recently we've been balancing play and skill building by providing students with opportunities to approach familiar media, such as drawing and painting, in new and different ways. With over half of the population estimated to be under the age of 25 years, we want to encourage critical as well as creative thinking in support of their place in a growing global creative economy.
We're heading back to the Centre for Creative Education, Fellbach-Haus in Suhareka, Kosovo. In 2015 we introduced the concept of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) through a drawing machine workshop that utilized small DC motors with the exception of one piece created from a windshield wiper motor from an abandoned car! This year we're moving deeper into the knowledge and skill base for this work with the inclusion of Arduinos, E-Textiles, prototyping with breadboards, 3D printing, working with sensors and more. We're hoping to reproduce, in part, Federico Muelas and Terry Dane's Sonic Graphite 2B (SG2B). Stay tuned for updates. We'll be at the center for the week of March 20th.
You can read the Newsletter by clicking here.
March 2016 we travel to Sri Lanka to work with children and youth in Mullaitivu, Northern Province of Sri Lanka. We are partnering with the Jesuit Centre for Social Concern. We will be working at Alampil Roman Catholic Maha Vidyalayam. Since the end of the war in May 2009, rebuilding the lives of those affected by the wars is a priority of the Jesuits in their mission in Sri Lanka. ArtsAction Group joins them in this important work.
ArtsAction Group Participates: Round Table: Role of Education & Youth in Preventing Urban Violence & Countering Violent Extremism at INEE October 21
The Round Table: Role of Education & Youth in Preventing Urban Violence & Countering Violent Extremism was held at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on October 21, 2015. ArtsAction Group Co-Director Cindy Maguire attended to learn more about the work of INEE, it's partners and possible ways ArtsAction Group might continue to work with INEE. The event brought together members of the INEE's Working Groups, as well as external participants. Presentations and dialogue addressed ongoing research and programming related to these areas as well as how youth are and can be involved in peace-building. One area addressed that resonates with us was the role that sports, arts and culture can play in educating children and youth towards empowerment and transformation in conflict affected spaces. For more information on INEE and the roundtable check out these links:
Newly published - our 5 year retrospective catalogue, Imagining & Acting to Change Our World - is here! Documenting our partnership with Fellbach-Haus in Suhareka, Kosovo from 2010 to 2014. Check it out! Any profit from purchases, digital or hardcopy is tax deductible and directly benefits Fellbach-Haus programming.
To those of you new to the site, most of our activities are posted in real time on our facebook page, ArtsAction Group. A quick review of the last six months includes a posting of a Shared Roots interview with Fatimatu Mint Budda on our Western Sahrawi projects page and a photographic and video review of our shared work with colleagues and friends at Fellbach-Haus this March. This year's theme: Art and Technology. Both projects are a must see!
This July Tiffanie Ord and Cindy Maguire, members of ArtsAction Group will present their paper: Arts-Based Activism Towards Liberation: The Case of the Western Sahara at ECAS this summer.
We've produced our end of year 2014 ArtsAction Group newsletter shared with our growing list of partners and supporters. It's been an active, productive and exciting year. Click on the link to view the newsletter on-line.
We have only to read the headlines to see how pressing the need is for bringing these kinds of activities to our children and youth.
Thanks to all who have supported our efforts in creating, producing and sharing the arts with children and youth in conflict affected environments around the world.
For the most up-to-date information regarding our work and projects, check out our website and social media sites. We will be using this space to comment and post projects, activities and conversations about our work.