International Art Project Between Children of Morija, Lesotho, Southern Africa and Whitehouse, Ohio, U.S.A.
Developed by Artists Patrick Rorke & Shari Densel

“The arts provide opportunities and experiences for students to understand global issues; to work collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religionsand lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect; to understand other nations and cultures.The awareness of empathy that comes from the collective production of art or study of art by others enables students to develop a truly global point of view.”
–Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The Project and how it all began…..

Notes from Shari Densel on the development of a great student project and learning experience:

In the summer of 2011, I had the incredible experience of co-leading a seminar for U.S. secondary art and social studies teachers that included five weeks of travel in the countries of South Africa and Lesotho. The program was funded by the U.S. Department of Education through the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program.

About a week into the tour we located ourselves in Morija, a mountain village in Lesotho were I met the South African/Lesotho artist Patrick Rorke. As Patrick and I conversed, I discovered he was also volunteering to teach art at a school in Morija. Together we developed the idea of an international exchange project and began to work out some of the details.

Over the past year a select group of students here at Anthony Wayne and Mr. Rorke class in Morija have worked on several identical projects comparing and contrasting results of final products and ideas. Through the lessons, students have been engaged in opportunities to reflect and comment on social issues and develop empathy within a creative and constructive medium, expanding their voice and often encouraging additional participation.

Even though we have had limited communication with the class in Lesotho, students have started learning about theirs, as well as Lesotho’s, culture, lives, and develop ideas based off the theme of “Identity”. Students beginning to have a better understanding of how family, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, and other group and cultural influences contribute to the development of a sense of self.

All of our lessons on identity have lead up to the idea of “Who Am I And How Do I Want To Fit Into The World To Make It A Better Place?” For our final project the students in both countries will each be creating an etched copper plate that reflects their idea. Once all of the plates are completed we will bring them together to create an international installation. One side of each plate will contain the student illustration. On the other side will be the student's statements. With nearly 50+ copper images created by individual students, we are confident that this display will be full of powerful, positive message from today’s youth.

We are currently scheduled for a display at Bowling Green State University in April, the Anthony Wayne District Art Show in May and the Ohio Department of Education in June. Following displays here in the U.S.A. all cooper pieces will then be sent to South Africa and Lesotho where they will be on display in various venues as well.

Currently we have received a Teacher Incentive Grant from the Ohio Arts Education Foundation, and a grant from the Anthony Wayne Education Foundation.

It is truly turning out to be an amazing learning experience and hope to expand to other counties in the future!