Art 4 Uganda: Jasmine Oh '11 and her students

September 23 to September 30, 2010

On July 11, the Somalian insurgent group Al-Shabab bombed the capital of Uganda, killing seventy-four people, including an American who came to volunteer with a church group. Although a month had passed since the bombing blast, the city of Kampala was still in mayhem and under tight control upon my arrival. In heightened alarm and anxiety, Sister Vita, Sister Benedict, my dad and I meandered through the capital, finally arriving at Jinja after six hours of driving.

In the St. Benedict School, a school run by nuns, I taught drawing and painting to children ranging from third grade to seventh grade. Since art education is nonexistent in Ugandan schools, most students have never even touched paint or crayons, albeit mixed colors on a palette before. I started with the basics, such as the mixture of colors and the concept of light and shadow-- things I have learned in my very own drawing class at Taft. When I asked them to draw about themes like "What is America to me?,", "One Thing I Want," and "My Representation of Uganda," they sat pensively, soon filling the white paper with vibrant colors. Though lacking experience and technical skills, they transformed their flat artworks into three dimensional pieces in just a few classes. To share this enriching experience, I brought those artworks back to The Taft School, hoping that their work will nullify 8511.50 miles and connect ubiquitously to my fellow Tafties.

When I returned to Korea I worked on paintings and drawings of the trip. I recalled some of my most vivid and memorable sights, like the gathering of the illiterate Ugandan parents, to whom I taught English, and their children's gashed, calloused feet peaking through threadbare socks. I also explored other subjects and experimented with different media, such as painting on pizza boxes and utilizing both sides of a canvas.

—Jasmine Oh