American University’s Art Club held a Mosaic Painting Event in the Tavern at Mary Graydon Center to raise money for Ngoma Kenya, an organization providing arts opportunities to underprivileged students in Kenya.
Students who stopped by throughout the afternoon were given individual small canvases to paint for the mosaic. The event also featured live music performances by artists from Second District Records with food provided by the School of International Service Undergraduate Council.
While painting, students were encouraged to think about the theme: “Where do you find kindness?” As they painted, students saw the art that elementary students in Kenya had created with the same theme.
Flyers around the Tavern encouraged participants to donate to Ngoma Kenya, an organization that provides daily music, dance and art classes to students in Kenya. The organization envisions a world where all children have equal access to the arts and creative expression.
Sophia Andrews, a senior in the SIS and the founder of Ngoma Kenya, discussed how the organization began and how it helps children realize their creative potential.
“I'm a dancer, so we started off with just small dance classes,” Andrews said. “Over the years, we've grown into all kinds of music, dance and the arts. But just a really big focus on the arts. A lot of the kids in our program have been through a lot, and the arts are a way for them to heal.”
As a by-youth-for-youth organization, Andrews mentioned that they work to hire young local artists in the community. Andrews says she regularly communicates with the organization’s team of local artists in Kenya to check in on classes and support the program.
“Most days, I have meetings with our team over there to just check in,” Andrews said. “But the team over there are the ones that really keep it going since I'm here in the states. I try to go back to Kenya as often as possible, but they're the ones that are able to run the classes, are able to manage things, and pictures of visits and things like that.”
Art Club at AU
The mosaic painting served as the Art Club’s monthly community outreach event. The club holds weekly sessions providing paint and other materials for students to create art and step away from the stress of college life.
Club Vice President Mei Matute, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, emphasized how the club welcomes anyone interested in art. Matute said it is important to have an open environment and creative space in schools with heavy political culture like AU.
“In our club, all we want to do is foster an environment where anyone can just come in and be creative,” Matute said. “We want to create a space where students who are interested in art, but not necessarily studying it, can just come and be with other people who are also interested in art.”
Fátima Garcia, the president of Art Club at AU and a junior in SIS and the School of Communication, invited other organizations to collaborate with her club and described how art can be a mechanism for change.
“Everyone is invited to our club, and we want you to collaborate and tell us things that you might be interested in doing in the future,” Garcia said. “And I would also like to mention that arts and activism come together, and that's what we're doing today.”