Friday, May 21, 2010

Art Atelier

Today was the day Dioss and I finally had the art atelier at Darou Salam middle school here in Thies. I went over to Dioss' house right after lunch to do some last minute planning and logistics before we went to the school together. I also asked him a couple of questions and filmed them since I'm trying to create a short video for the kids at Murry Lake Elementary back at home.

Dioss wanted to start out just with the colored pencils to see if the students who came to the workshop had any skills and to not overwhelm them/ ourselves with all of the supplies and create more chaos than was inevitable. When we arrived at the school we were the only people there which wasn't a good sign. The principal showed up half an hour late and then we were still missing the teacher in charge of extra-curricular activities. I don't think I've elaborated on this before, but attendance/ sign-up sheets are of the utmost importance here. Last Monday I almost had a revolt on my hands at Junior Achievement because I forgot to send a sign-up sheet around and none of the students in attendance wanted someone who wasn't there to get credit from me, who has no power, go figure. Anyway, without the teacher who is in charge of extra-curriculars we were missing the all important sign-up sheet of students who had, in advance, said that wanted to participate in the art workshop. While there wasn't a sheet, there were students who wanted to do some art projects so Dioss and I convinced the principal to let us proceed with the kids who were waiting. We only started 45 minutes late which I thought was pretty good.

Dioss opened up the atelier with an explanation of the project with Murray Lake and explained that he would be giving a couple of workshops in different mediums for those students who were interested. Dioss wanted this first atelier to be very relaxed because he wanted to gauge what type of art experience and level the students were at so he pretty much let them start drawing from the beginning and he went around helping them and answering questions. I was shocked by the level of artist ability. I was definitely the worst artist there and therefore you will not be seeing a picture of my drawing since that would be embarrassing.

It was obvious that only students who had an interest in art and had practiced on their own signed up for the atelier. I had never seen children drawing and it was such a novelty with Ahmed that I was surprised at how talented and focused some of these kids were with their art. Two boys in particular caught my attention. One boy drew amazing anime pictures that were incredibly detailed and beautiful. The other boy was very interested in using words in his art and was extremely expressive and sad. They both told me that they want to grow up to be artists and Dioss invited them to his gallery to look around since they both expressed an interest in painting.

Overall the atelier was great. We had about twenty kids, only three girls, and I think everyone was really happy and excited. All of the kids were shocked when I told them that they got to take their drawings home with them and I think they found art class with the toubab highly entertaining.

THANKS MURRY LAKE ELEMENTARY! All of the supplies are great.

New pictures from today are up. A quick disclaimer: While none of the students are smiling this does not mean they aren't happy. Senegalese people just don't smile in pictures.


  1. Alyssa,

    The kids seem very intense in their work but seem to be enjoying themselves. The boy drawing the characters is very well done.


  2. can't wait to hear all the details of the atelier. Is this a school that Dioss works with consistently?