Friday, December 5, 2008

Chicago-Jamaica Culture Quilt at the Chicago Children's Museum

The Chicago-Jamaica Culture Quilt is on display at the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier through the end of 2008. The quilt made it's public debut at the Museum on Thursday, December 4, 5:00-8:00 pm during the Museum's Free Family Night Winter Celebrations event. The Museum provided a bus so that the children in Chicago who participated in the project could attend the event, along with their family members.

During the evening, Global Explorers Kids had an activity table, inviting children to create fabric collage quilt squares depicting winter celebrations. Many other Museum partners were also part of the Winter Celebrations event so the children were treated to Persian and Swedish activities and performances of Native American, Russian and Puerto Rican music, as well as Swedish, Chinese, Korean, and Irish dance.

Everyone had an enjoyable evening and the children were especially excited to see their artwork and videos displayed in a museum.

Chicago-Jamaica Culture Quilt at the Chicago Children

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jamaica Report From our Student Ambassador

Angelina, age 7, went to Jamaica with her mom, Global Explorers Kids Director Holly Hutto. Angelina served as our student ambassador while we worked on a collaborative project between the children of Chicago and the children of Treasure Beach, Jamaica. Below is her report of the trip:

My experience in Jamaica
Through the time I was in Jamaica and the camp I had the experience of learning how to get over the hotness, making new friends, being sort of an assistant teacher, and getting used to the salty water. By getting used to the feeling of being in a totally different place than my home, I finally realized, when I got back home, that I was more used to Jamaica now, than my home.

Things I did in Jamaica
Well, let’s see, in Jamaica I went snorkling a lot, had dinner outside on an outdoor table, ate WONDERFUL food such as fish, veggies, rice, chicken, cornmeal and coconut porridge, cooked plantains, ackee, bammy, sour cherries, cactus fruit, pod cakes, johnny cakes, quesadillas, jerk chicken, pumpkin soup, curry chicken, and more. I actually did a dance with some older girls. It was easy to learn because I watched them dance for a while, then I joined in.

What we did during camp
At the camp, we did art projects. We did papel picado. We did, let’s see, we worked on paintings for the quilt, we read stories, we did face painting, we jumped rope, we played games on the beach, and more.

What some of the kids did for me
Some of the kids were very cool. Once I found three sand dollars on the side of the road, and one boy cleaned off the sand dollars for me and another boy cracked one open to show me the little creature living inside. In Jamaica, they don’t call them sand dollars, they call them sea biscuits. They don’t know what we mean by sand dollars.

What’s exciting and what’s not
Ummmmmmmmmm, well, at night, in Jamaica, at the hotel room, there’s not much to do except play cards, read books, and do nothing. Once it gets dark and everybody stops playing and gets ready for bed, not much to do when we’re already ready for bed and not really doing anything. But then, when we go to sleep and wake up in the morning…it’s a brand new day and it’s not like last night where we hung around not doing anything. We can do anything we want now, like snorkeling or walk to Jack Sprat’s (a restaurant over a mile walk from the hotel). We usually have to bring water because it’s a long way to walk.

The big storm
We had a little bit of a hurricane in Jamaica. It was really in the other parts of Jamaica, not in Treasure Beach (where we were), but we had the winds and the rain parts of it. Both our and our friend’s (Manassah) rooms were flooded. Our room was flooded because the rain came through the windows since we had slatted windows. But Manassah’s room was flooded because the rain came through the crack under her door. Out the window, from a little bit of a distance, I saw a tree that was knocked down from the storm. And, before the storm happened, we saw that it was raining in other parts of Jamaica. And I actually saw a lightning bolt from where the storm was. Oooooo, it must have been raining really hard down there. I’m just glad I wasn’t in that storm. But the hurricane also caused us to have no electricity or water. Stephanie (the person that told my mommy about going down to Jamaica and helping with the camp) filled up buckets with rain water since we didn’t have any water and our toilet wouldn’t flush. So we put that water in the toilet. And Viking (Stephanie’s husband) gave us a water container to drink from and to use as teeth water. And Manassah used our cereal bowl to catch rain water to fill up the bowl to use as teeth water.

The best parts of Jamaica
The best part of Jamaica was feeding the goats, playing with the kids, snorkeling, Jack Sprat’s icecream, seeing an actual mongoose running, doing the dance with the older girls, seeing a giant croc while I was in a fishing boat, seeing crabs in a crab net, the pond (with lots of lily pads and water lilies), and climbing the tree next to the pond.

What I learned in Jamaica
I learned that it’s very, very hot there, even in the winter. It doesn’t get cold like it does in Chicago because it is more to the equator so it doesn’t get cold. I learned that it’s easier to get sunburned there, and that in Jamaica you can go to the beach anytime you want, especially at our hotel because the beach is just right across the little tiny dirt road with lots of thorns and you have to walk single file. And I learned not to be afraid of sand crabs because all they’ll do when you come close to them is run away, although sometimes when you’re just sitting there not doing anything thinking they’ll not mind anything they’ll come a little closer to you and you get a little frightening. I learned that it can be hard to understand some of the real Jamaicans because they have an accent and way of talking that’s hard to understand and when they speak to each other they speak patois so you have no idea what they’re talking about. Some words you understand and other words you do not.

The friends I made in Jamaica
The friends I made were: Eleni, Anath, Naomi, Safir, Sabrina, the volunteers from New Zealand, Manassah, Stephanie, Viking, Nia, Sommer, Dominic, Portia, and the other kids at the camp.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Jamaica Project update

August 19-30, 2008, Global Explorers Kids Director Holly Hutto, and her daughter/student ambassador Angelina were in Treasure Beach, Jamaica volunteering at the VIJON (Volunteer in Jamaica Opportunity Network) summer art camp. Scheduled for 5 days, 5 hours a day, the last day of camp had to be canceled due to Tropical Storm Gustav which brought a day and a half of rain and wind to Treasure Beach - typically the driest area of Jamaica. About 20-25 children from Treasure Beach participated in the camp, which provided children with arts and crafts activities, sports and games, and one meal and snack a day. Coordinated by Stephanie Genus of VIJON, the camp is offered free to the children, many of whom come from low-income families. VIJON also provides the campers with school supplies, to help them offset the personal expense of school.

During the camp, Global Explorers Kids helped the children work on a collaborative project with children in Chicago. The children in Chicago and the children in Treasure Beach are each working on squares for a culture quilt - providing them an opportunity to share their cultures with each other via painting, fabric collage, photography, words, video, and more. Children and families participating in Global Explorers Kids summer camp donated pencils, paper, folders, and markers for the children in Treasure Beach, which were distributed to the children along with additional supplies that were donated to VIJON.

Work continues on the project as Global Explorers Kids edits the children's videos, prints their photographs, and works on sewing their quilt squares together. The project will be documented online and the finished quilt will be publicly displayed at a later date. Stay tuned for a personal account of the Jamaica trip from our 7-year-old student ambassador Angelina Kujaca-Hutto!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Storytelling Traditions Around the World

The children at the Global Explorers Kids after school program at Waters Elementary School just finished a session on Storytelling Traditions Around the World. Through the class, students learned about the importance of storytelling around the world and found out about some nontraditional ways of sharing a story. During the eight-week program, 17 children, ages 4-10, created Japanese Kamishibai, Pueblo Indian storyteller figures, storycloths, and sculptural stories. The next few posts share some of the information they learned.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sculptural Stories

Sculptural Stories. Many cultures use sculpture, in particular carvings, to record history and legends. Usually, those within the cultures are familiar with the stories being preserved, and are able to "read" the carvings. After learning about how other cultures preserve stories in sculpture, Global Explorers Kids created their own story sculptures out of painted wood (photo 4).

Totem poles. (photo 1) Totem poles are made by the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. Carved from giant trees, the totem poles tell stories. Usually the stories are about the family who had the pole made. Sometimes, the stories are about Native American legends. The stories are passed down orally, from parents to children. Those who are familiar with the stories are able to read the stories presented in the totem poles.

Royal altar tusks. (photo 2) Carved altar tusks are made by the Edo people of the Kingdom of Benin, in southern Nigeria, for a new oba (king), to honor his father. The carvings on the tusks tell stories of the Kingdom of Benin. The stories can be historical or mythical, or a combination of both. Many stories talk about the greatness of the oba’s father.

Whakairo. (photo 3) Whakairo is the term for Maori carving. Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. The main media for carving is wood, jade, bone, stone, and human flesh (ta moko – tattooing). The carvings served as a way to record history and mythology.
Totem Pole, by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith
Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska, by Deb Vanasse

Online activities and resources
How to read Maori carving
Animated Maori creation myth
Diagram of the Royal Altar Tusk at the Art Institute of Chicago
Stories told on the Royal Altar Tusk at the Art Institute of Chicago
Haida totem poles
Make your own totem pole printable
Color a totem pole
Build an online totem pole
Totem pole story
Video look at totem poles on You Tube
Video look at Maori woodcarving on You Tube

Around Town
The Field Museum of Chicago has examples of totem poles from the Indians of the Pacific Northwest, Maori Whakairo, and royal tusk carving. Visit these to see how other cultures tell stories through carving. Another example of a Royal Altar Tusk can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago, in the African galleries.

Illustrating Oral Stories

Illustrating oral stories. Stories were first shared orally, but it wasn't long before oral storytellers started illustrating the stories they told. Sometimes the pictures were created on the spot, as in Aboriginal sand talk and Yup'ik storyknifing. In other cases, storytellers created pictures ahead of time, to be referred to as the story was being told. In the Global Explorers Kids class, children learned about different ways of illustrating oral stories. They had the opportunity to tell a story while illustrating it in the sand, as many Aboriginal people do in Australia, then they created their own Kamishibai stories.

Aboriginal sand talk. In Central Australia, the aboriginals often tell stories while drawing pictures in the sand to illustrate the story. As the story moves along, the images are wiped clean and the storyteller starts with a fresh ground.

Storyknifing. Storyknifing is a style of storytelling, similar to Aboriginal sand talk, used by the Yup’ik of Alaska. As a story is being told, pictures are drawn in the mud with a special knife made out of antler, ivory, or wood. The knives are carved by the fathers and grandfathers, and given as special gifts to the girls. Storyknifing was traditionally used to pass stories down through the generations, usually from mothers to daughters. Today, groups of girls will tell stories to each other using the storyknife.

Kamishibai. Kamishibai , a form of Japanese storytelling, means “paper drama.” Thought to have begun in Buddhist temples in the 12th century, kamishibai is best known as a form of street entertainment that was popular in the 1920’s-1950’s. The kamishibai storyteller rode between villages on a bicycle that had a small stage. He announced his arrival by clapping together two sticks. As children came to hear the stories, they bought candy from the kamishibai storyteller. The storyteller would tell several stories, using illustrated cards that were inserted in the stage and pulled as the story was told. Today, kamishibai is being used in Japanese schools to teach literacy.
Kamishibai Man, by Allen Say
Terrific Tales to Tell: From the Storyknifing Tradition, by Valerie Marsh and Patrick K. Luzadder
Tundra Mouse: A Storyknife Tale, by Megan McDonald

Jaliyaa Storytelling: Stories & Music of West Africa, Storyteller Asha's Baba

Online activities and resources
Video of a traditional Kamishibai storyteller
Video of an African storyteller -
Audio of Aboriginal storytellers telling stories of the Dreamtime
Flash animated Gullah tales, told in English and Gullah

Pueblo Storytellers

Pueblo Indian Storytellers. Pueblo Indian potters have been making figures out of clay for centuries, but the storyteller figures that they are famous for did not appear until the 1960’s. The storyteller figures, which show an elder with children gathered around to hear a story, reflect the importance of storytelling in the Pueblo culture. For centuries, Pueblo Indian elders have passed down their culture, traditions, and history to the children through oral stories and songs. The picture on the left is a traditional storyteller figure from Taos Pueblo. The figure on the right was created by a student in the Global Explorers Kids after school program.
Arrow to the Sun: A Pueblo Indian Tale, by Gerald McDermott
The Turkey Girl: A Zuni Cinderella Story, by Penny Pollock and Ed Young
The Magic Hummingbird: A Hopi Folktale, by Ekkehart Malotki, Michael Lomatuway'Ma, and Michael Lacapa
Helen Cordero & the Storytellers of the Cochiti Pueblo, by Nancy Shroyer Howard
Pueblo Stories and Storytellers, by Mark Bahti
Children of Clay: A Family of Pueblo Potters (We Are Still Here), by Rina Swentzell and Bill Steen
Pueblo Storyteller, by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith

The Keepers of the Earth, Red Feather Woman
The Little Hawk Show: Native American Stories & Songs

Online activities and resources
Native American storyteller – tales of wonder
Mini lecture on Pueblo Storyteller figures on You Tube
Pictures of storyteller figures (this is a commercial site, but has some good pictures to see what the figures look like)

Stories in Textiles

Stories in Textiles
While often used for utilitarian purposes, such as clothing, bedding, and rugs, textile art is also used by cultures around the world as a way to preserve their histories, stories, and traditions. The children viewed examples of stories in textiles, including Hmong story cloths, Faith Ringgold’s story quilts, and Chilean and Peruvian Arpilleras, then created their own storycloths (photo 1).

Hmong story cloths. (photo 3) The Hmong are an ethnic group, originally from the mountains of South China and Laos. During the war in Laos, many Hmong fled the country and were resettled as refugees in Thailand and Western countries. Their traditional arts include complex textile designs. The story cloths they are known for are a recent development. Hmong men began making drawings of traditional stories so that they’d be remembered during the difficult days of war. They started making stories about the war, as well. In the refugee camps, the women would stitch these stories on cloth. These story cloths became an important source of income for the Hmong in the refugee camps.

Faith Ringgold’s Story quilts. (photo 2) Faith Ringgold is an African-American artist who draws inspiration from her roots. Quilting and storytelling are traditional art forms in the African-American and African communities. Quilts often tell stories, or send messages, using symbols. Ringgold drew on this history, taking it a step further, by telling personal stories through both pictures and words. Some of her story quilts are almost like books in the form of a quilt.

Arpilleras. (photo 4) Arpilleras are three-dimensional textile pictures, common in South America. They originated in Chile, where women political prisoners made them to send secret notes to outside helpers. Today, the best known arpilleras come from the shantytowns around Lima, Peru. Arpilleras tell the stories of everyday life and political injustices through pictures.

Dia's Story Cloth: The Hmong People's Journey of Freedom, by Dia Cha
The Whispering Cloth: A Refugee's Story, by Pegi Deitz Shea
Tar Beach, by Faith Ringgold
Stitching Stars: The Story Quilts of Harriet Powers, by Mary E. Lyons
Tonight is Carnaval, by Arthur Dorros

Online activities and resources
Faith Ringgold’s official site – view images of her story quilts
Hmong Story cloth images
Images of arpilleras (this is a commercial site) and color an arpillera

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Global Explorers Kids Preschool Sessions

Global Explorers Kids has been providing cultural workshops to preschoolers attending the Waters Elementary School state and tuition-based preschools and to preschoolers at All About Kids Learning Academy. Preschoolers are creating culturally-specific crafts, learning about a different culture each week. The sessions begin with a song, locating the country/culture on the map, and learning about the craft. Many times, children see real life examples of crafts from various cultures, before creating their own projects. Children have made Russian Matryoshka nesting dolls, Adinkra cloths from Ghana, Mexican animalitos, Tibetan prayer flags, Indian diwa lamps, Kenyan dolls, Japanese carp kites, and more. The program serves 85 preschoolers each week.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hello Everybody! We're here!

Just a quick posting to greet everybody out in blog-land. We'll be posting all sorts of things related to our mission of teaching kids about the world through art.

Stay tuned!