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I'm in a private school, well-equipped with art supplies. More than I
could have imagined for a school just starting an art program.
I'm trained in DBAE along with a variety of other approaches
including my own art training as a visual artist, curriculum
specialist, and administrator, so I bring alot of all of that to the
work I'm doing.
I'm teaching K-6, team teaching with the classroom teacher in
80-minute blocks once a week. I rotate through a term seeing 1/2 of
these kids every week; then switch with the other 1/2. The classroom
teacher carries on without me after planning the lessons during
built-in plannig meetings which I just was able to get added to my
rotation schedule. The school has a second art room for this purpose
when the students aren't seeing me. Until they get a second art
teacher, this was a better compromise than seeing the whole lot every
two weeks until I get more help prepping materials and cleaning up
As a result, my focus varies from project-based to concept-based
lessons. There are some art visuals here but I brought my own with
slides anticipating their lack and unavailability locally, so my art
history intro to a lesson comes from this source material. I am
trying to use local materials when available, such as bark cloth, but
most other things used locally are imported from India. Right now the
kinds of arts projects I'm working on are clay vessels with lids
enclosing a mystery item (made separately); calligraphy of personal
poems; batik and tye-dye khanga cloths; paper mache masks using
African masks as the inspiration; an outdoor mural; propoganda and
visual contradictions using montages; and sculptural inventions. I
just offered an in-serviee for teachers on "Reading Visual Content in
Children's Art." Several classes on their own are doing postcards for
an exchange with Joy Sokero from her postcard idea a while back.
Art supplies are ordered from Europe and the United States one year
in advance. I have a very healthy supply budget of $17,000 for 550
kids, but in real terms after shipping it's $15,000. I had alot of
fun spending that much money and allows me to order specialty things
that I ordinarily brought into artist-in-residencies such as
iridescent paper, foils, watercolor pencils, mylar, etc. that many school
budgets can't afford. I put my order in for next year this October; it took
until December to make it an offical order and will be July when it
arrives most likely. Until the recent opening in trade, supplies had to be
ordered 3 years in advance. In fact, a music order just arrived that
was ordered 3 years ago. Theft in shipments is a big issue, so it's
difficult to predict availability even with an order.
There is a large Indian community in Dar, so there are some things
available locally that are used in cultural celebrations such as
Diwalli and are incorporated into elaborate adornments. There is no
art supply store here at all. I had a shock recently when
I went to buy a piece of 150-lb watercolor paper and it was $21!
There is no local source for acrylic paints or oil paints, although I
have seen watercolors at a local office supply store recently (the
same place as the watercolor paper!) The problem is that there is no
centralized distribution system for anything, so it makes finding
things difficult. One store may carry one item; another store may
care another. You have to find these things out word of mouth because
many of these places don't have phones or there is no electricity; or
there is no inventory so people don't know even when they do have a
phone, whether it's available.
The best source of material right now is personal couriering via
friends and teachers traveling to Dar, as will be the case for a
couple of art exchange projects I'm doing with teachers as a result
of our communication via this listserve.
Thanks for your inquiry. It's been really important for me to connect
with my peers and colleagues by email - they're not available
Thanks for the commentary about East Africa. The situation sounds much
like Haiti, supposedly the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
How do you manage to have Internet access? What kinds of art
instruction are you providing?
North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts
PO Box 305100 University of North Texas
Denton, TX 76203