Wednesday, April 9, 2014

February 14: Proverb Poster Project

In February, students were introduced to proverbs and completed their first project – The Proverb Poster Board.  Students were introduced to proverbs as a way that many African people teach wisdom and how proverbial wisdom helps to inform the choices we make.  Students also made up their own proverbs – many of which were very good like “He who tells lies get bumps on their tongue”.  Together students created several banners from paper rolls with their countries flags, pictures of Africa, proverbs and various interpretations of the continent.  This project also helped he students see and experience how working together could help them complete a monumental task that no one of them could do alone.

After Students were able to work together in a group to create the Proverb Scrolls, they each had the opportunity to create their own personal Proverb Poster Board.  Take a look at some of the complete Proverb Poster Board.


January 14: Introduction to Studio Africa

Children are no different than most adults when introduced to something new and often need some time to adjust to the new people and new focus.  In January the studio Africa program started inside the classroom with students getting to know their facilitators with icebreakers, introductory exercises, setting ground rules, signing student contracts and taking a pre-test to see how much basic information students know about Africa.  All students help create the ground rules for how they will behave and function during Studio Africa as well as sign a student contract so from the beginning students know they are getting involved with something serious and important but trust us - we have a lot fun too!

The activities consisted of an overview of the Africa continent and countries,  Specifically, learning all the countries through a word search puzzle; learning the geographical locations of the countries bordering oceans and major rivers, through games; and each student selects an African country they will use as the focus for future arts projects.

Studio Africa and Smothers Elementary School

Poster Board created by Studio Facilitator
The Studio Africa program is proud to partner with Smothers Elementary School located at 4400 Brooks Street NE in Washington, DC for the 2013 - 2014 school year.  This year, Studio Africa works with 2 classes comprised of 4th and 5th graders (approximately 50 students total) two - three days per week learning about the vastness and diversity of the continent of Africa.  Studio Africa is extremely excited about working with a school with such a committed Principal, Staff and Teachers - each of whom have welcomed the Studio Africa staff and presenters with open arms making sure everything we need is in place.

Students participate in activities based in three categories:  Creative Arts, Research Technology and Cultural Performance.
The Creative Arts component allows students to explore the beauty and majesty of traditional and modern Africa through a myriad of creative artistic expressions that have and continue to globally define many African cultures such as mask making, painting, mural creation, jewelry making, beading, tie-dye, cooking, fashion, lifestyle and textiles.

The Research and Technology component allows students to explore Africa inside out from antiquity to the present using the internet to study climate, population, geography, topography, and more.
Cultural performance allows students to get out of the traditional classroom setting and feel Africa through music, dance and song.
At the end of the school year, students will have all their projects displayed and do a small performance their parents and family. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Studio Africa Drum Class

As part of the 2012 - 2013 Studio Africa Program, participants began taking drum class in February with Djembefola Mahiri Fadjimba Keita (Baba M) of Traditional Expressions and Tam Tam Mandingue DC.  After seeing the drum and dance presentation during the Kwanzaa program by Farafina Kan, Studio Africa students were enamored and asked for drum classes.  Several times a week each month when Studio Africa meets, students renew their excitement about drumming with Baba M.

Drumming has proven to be not only one of their favorite activities, but one of the activities where they are fully attentive for the entire time - which is a noteworthy accomplishment for any middle school student (and some of us adults too...shhhhhh)!  Take a look below at a couple of the pictures and video snippets of drum class with Baba M.

Studio Africa: The Spirit of the Mask

On an earlier trip to the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, students participated in a team scavenger hunt where they had to identify the names of various exhibits, their country of origin, artist or ethnic group and meaning or use in society of which many were masks.  Students were enthralled by the spirit of the masks and asked myriad questions surrounding the spirit of masks and their importance to society.  In March, students would learn more about the role of masks in African society and have the opportunity to create their own masks.

Under the watchful eye of Master Artist Malandela Zulu and his assistants, students first experimented with aluminum foil masks learning how to outline each others faces as practice.  As a part of their introduction to Studio Africa and learning about the variety of African cultures, each student was responsible for picking an African country.  During this process, each student had a mold of their face created and was tasked with designing their own mask including the flag of their chosen African country.  This process included identifying their countries flag, sketching a draft picture of their mask, having a mold of their face made and eventually painting their mask using their own creativity.  The slide show you see below is a pictorial review of that process.  The students had a ball during this process.  Check it out!

Slideshow Music:  Famoudou Konate / Konkoba II