Creative Projects seeks to empower participants by giving a voice to their personal narratives, teaching valuable skills that participants can use in the future, and facilitating collaboration between Project FOCUS members and the local community. Through the exhibition of artwork produced through these creative projects, our goal is to show audiences that life in Uganda is complex, as it is in the United States. While hardship does exist, it does not define the individuals in the Ugandan community; through sharing their stories of resilience, we hope to show that amidst loss, there is incredible strength and perseverance. Below is a list of the four creative projects that Project FOCUS designed with the support of the Ugandan community. These projects were facilitated in Lyantonde, Uganda, 2007.
Vulnerable communities are often defined by their needs and weaknesses. But what kinds of internal strengths and abilities are developed in response to obstacles? How have individuals and communities adapted in positive ways to cope with the effects of HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty, physical disability, and other difficult situations? Using a wide variety of art media, artists from the United States and Uganda seeking to answer these questions came together to work with 12 individuals from the villages of Lyantonde to create portraits from diverse angles and perspectives. These artworks were compiled and are being displayed both in Uganda and the United States to raise awareness of the multi-dimensionality of life in Lyantonde. Original copies of each portrait will be returned to the individual participants as a visual record of their lives.
Two art therapists facilitated a communal art project with three groups of individuals infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Two group sessions were conducted at two local villages and one group session was conducted at Lyantonde Hospital. Individuals created squares illustrating personal stories about how they have been affected by HIV/AIDS. Facilitators taught basic skills in textile art and sewing; group members were encouraged to share their talents and skills with others. The intent of this project was to facilitate the growth of self-sustaining art groups and support networks in these communities from the Lyantonde district. The quilts that were created have and continue to be displayed in both the U.S. and Uganda to raise awareness about the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS and to decrease stigma around the disease.
An art therapy program was developed with children from Prince Primary School. The focus of the program was to record and preserve oral histories and educate the community about local family traditions and life lessons through symbolic stories. Group cooperation allowed for increased cohesion and improved social skills, as residents developed their personal identity within a positive peer community.
This project provided an opportunity to appreciate non-traditional photography. This project provided students exposure to and experience with non-traditional photography. The students learned about the way light travels and affects the way one captures images, the importance of exposure times and f-stops, and the composition of an image. The youth also had a chance to understand the philosophy behind pinhole photography, and then build traditional pinhole cameras out of tin cans, giant boxes, and matchboxes. This class also included teaching Ugandan artists the basics of photography and pinhole camera construction, which has made the project sustainable. At the culmination of this project, it was chosen to become a permanent class at "In Movement."