Overcoming Barriers: The International Center covers the connection with the summer art camp News

The Mammoth lobby at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History had several additional visitors this week, with the Owensboro International Center hosting its first Transcend summer art camp.

While visitors can still stroll to see a number of the museum’s exhibitions and galleries, the lobby has been turned into a temporary art space, with many tables, easels, paints and colorful canvases created by camp participants – mostly local mentored refugees – covering area.

Laura Jones, the center’s youth and family services coordinator, said the camp was set up to provide a safe space for campers to express themselves, tell their stories and “integrate and promote intercultural communication”.

Jones, who heads the youth mentoring group, said they run various projects each month that revolve around civic and social engagement, educational and professional advancement, life skills and health and well-being, and wanted to find something to cover all this in some form.

“We really wanted to cultivate a project that they could integrate with each other and just have unity,” she said. “I just had the feeling that – to have experience in art before I got into this field – (to have) something that really transcends language barriers.

The camp started on Monday and lasts until Friday, with 46 participants registered.

Activities include self-portraits, exploring local art, papier-mâché, dancing, paint-painting exercises recommended by local artist Lisa Dukes, educational lessons for specific artists such as the Belarusian-French artist Marc Chagall, and testing their artistic skills through a range of of media and styles.

“Chagall painted country paintings… so I wanted to give (participants) the opportunity – if they wanted – to show their own homeland, village, things like that through paint and oil pastel,” Jones said.

Jones also said they painted creations on the sidewalk in front of the museum, along Davis Street, for the public to see.

And at the end of the week, Jones said that the participants would choose their favorite work they had created and include it in a jury exhibition, which would be voted on by their colleagues.

One of the participants in the camp is 16-year-old Nima Lopez, who moved to Owensboro seven months ago from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Lopez said he was enjoying his time at camp.

“It makes me happy,” she said. “It simply came to my notice then. I made some friends here, and I met different people. ”

She also loves to make works of art. She uses part of her personal drawing to stay and is inspired by what she observes around her.

“If I see something and I like it, I will try to repeat it,” Lopez said.

Jones said participants enrolled in the camp speak a number of languages ​​ranging from Karen, Swahili, Spanish and Pashto, and the camp is an opportunity for them to communicate with each other no matter where they come from.

“They can all see each other’s work and get the flow of what they do,” she said.

Jones said programs like the camp were “paramount” to helping those familiar with Owensboro and the United States, and offered them a platform to express themselves.

“This really gives them the opportunity to really experience inclusion and they all share a common connection to have different experiences as refugees; but they all have a story to tell, ”Jones said. “Some of the people here are obviously not so vocal, so they still don’t feel that connection as citizens of our community. I just really wanted to give them that opportunity. “

Jones hopes the camp will grow for years to come as he sees the benefits for everyone involved.

“I hope to do it every year,” she said. “I think it would be great.

“Every time we have group events, I always – and everyone who presents – learn as much from these students as they do from us. This is a great opportunity for them to let us know about their culture (s) so that we can really learn more about communication and diversity. ”

Jones said the center is looking for new mentors, mentors and volunteers to support events such as the camp. If you are interested, contact Jones at 270-683-3423 or [email protected]

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