Friday, April 18, 2014

Connecting with Nepal through Art

Back in November,  my students began what has become one of my favorite annual projects--our annual Art Link through Creative Connections

The premise of this project is that students learn about other cultures through art. Each year is based on a particular theme, so that both art partners are creating images on a similar topic. What this does is twofold:
1) It spurs students to think about what is meaningful to them about that topic, and how to draw it, and in doing so
2) it activates their thinking so when they receive art from their partner class, they are more prepared to analyze it within a solid frame of reference.

This year the theme was food and our partner class was from Kathmandu, Nepal!

Here are some examples of their beautiful artwork. Below, you will also find some of my students'  feedback as they learned how to analyze artwork--and learn about another culture in a very fun way.

Remember that on the back of each piece of artwork is some information about the artist and a little about the art itself. This information helped inform our ideas and understanding, but there is still a lot of interpretation. Although it makes for a little longer reading, here are responses from my class to some of the questions we analyzed:
The aspects of your culture we found particularly interesting: 
We  thought it was interesting that there were a lot of fruits and vegetables. The kids talked a lot about being healthy. The people cook with fire in Nepal. They eat at small tables and don't sit in chairs like we do. Only one picture had a hamburger. All the others were about food that we don't know about in the United States.

The cultural values we think we both share: 
They think family is important. They also think fruits and vegetables are healthy, and that it is important to brush teeth. It looks like family is very important. Maybe the way food appears on the plate is important, too, because it all looks so pretty on the plates.

The cultural values we think are unique to you: 
You wear different types of clothes than we do, but we think they are special. Are they made from silk? You like simple things that are beautiful. You don't need furniture to sit on. It looks like you are having a picnic inside your home. The red dots on some women's foreheads we learned mean blessings. If you cook with fire, you must be patient.

The specific details in your class' artwork we found fascinating: 
You are really good artists! We like the frames around the art, the lines you draw in the white space. They look cool. We learned a lot of different names for your foods. It looks like your foods are all different from ours, except the hamburger. Only one picture had a tv in it. We don't think you have games! Do you always arrange your food on the plates like you drew it in your pictures? It looks perfect.

Your personal information (written on the artist's description sheets) that we found particularly interesting: 
 We liked how you talked about being healthy and helping your moms cook. You have very young artists! Some of our students look similar to you! We wished you would have told more about you want to do when you grow up. We are glad you speak English so you could write about your art.

The art techniques you used that we think are special (color, media, patterns, etc.): 
 You draw and color neatly. You use all the white space, and they are all so colorful. Do your homes actually have yellow and colored walls? They look pretty.

The ways your art collection changed our preconceptions of your culture: 
 We think that because family is important to them, that it might be something valuable for many different cultures. Food is something important to many cultures. And even though they are so far away, it is cool to think that we have these things in common.

Our new questions for you: 
 When did you start learning English?
What is your favorite food?
What games do you play? Do you have computers?
Do you have electricity? Is it hard to cook with fire?
What are some other things you do when you're not in school?
What do schools look like in Nepal?
What do you eat at school?

So, our BIG question for you, readers, is how would you depict the theme of "food" in your life? We welcome your art if you'd like to share!


  1. www.creativeconnections.orgApril 22, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Thank you Wendi! I love your BLOG! It is so wonderful to read about our ArtLink program and its impact on your students. I agree the art work from Nepal was really special as was the art work created by your students, they did a great job! Your BLOG has made my day! Thank you!!
    ~Polly Loughran, Program Director, Creative Connections

    1. Polly, I love working with your program--you help make it so easy for us to focus on the content while you work on all the logistics! Thank YOU and your staff!