Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Three Fish

The day before yesterday I taught my first workshop at Turquoise Mountain Foundation which is a center for arts in Kabul. For example, they have people working on ceramics, painting, calligraphy and other traditional arts of Afghanistan. The place itself is pretty interesting. They have taken over the old British Embassy which is a fort-like structure. I got to see how they make their ceramic bowls and the designs that they use to decorate the bowls. The men make the pottery on the wheel and then the women paint the design.

The workshop I taught was about how to mat you photos. We brought a mat cutting machine and taught them how to use it. At first the professor was not interested at all. He thought it was useless and had a “I don’t need this” kind of attitude. But after he saw the demonstration he got really excited and was the first one to make a mat (before any of the students!). Then the second class I taught he basically took over! It was funny. I had to encourage the female students that were sitting in the back to come forward to see the demonstration. They were very shy while the boys were very active and had more of a “know-it-all” attitude.

After that I went home and I was really tired. Driving around in Afghanistan drains my energy. It’s very dusty and the air is full of diesel fumes. On top of that the roads are in really bad shape—very bumpy with extreme pot holes. So any time I have to drive somewhere I’m exhausted afterward.

Yesterday I taught some marketing workshops to a class of female artists at the contemporary center for visual arts. I got to see their paintings and they were realllllly interesting. There was one that showed a well and the bucket from the well had a white scarf with red flowers sitting on it. The meaning of the painting was that a woman had committed suicide by dropping herself in the well. The flowers on the scarf represented her hopes and dreams. There were a lot of paintings that had themes of freedom. There was one woman that was very sharp and outspoken. She asked a lot of questions during the class. She had a painting of a circle with a small opening. Inside the circle were 3 fish-one red, blue, and yellow. Being the primary colors, these fish represented all of humanity, as you can get any color from combining red, blue and yellow. The meaning of the painting was that the fish (or humanity) had a door they could use to get out of their confined situation, but they chose not to.

After the class I spoke with some of the students and I was surprised that they were around 20 and 21! They looked like they were teenagers! I think they are so small due to malnutrition. I am planning on bringing their work to the US as part of resonance. After I came home it started thunder storming which I really liked!

One of the women I am interviewing for Resonance is illiterate. I will post her story to the resonance blog when I’m done typing it. Here I really appreciate the fact that I have an education and can read! It’s something I take for granted every day, but life is so hard if you can’t read! She is a widow and has 5 kids and works on her own to support her children. Her son wanted to quit school to work but she won’t let him. She says, I might be illiterate, but I want my kids to have a good future. They won’t be beggars. Her oldest daughter was taken out of school to take care of her dad when he was sick. Now she takes care of the kids while the mom works and goes to the mosque to read the Koran since she doesn’t go to school any more. Her mom wants her to at least be able to read “hospital.”

Unfortunately, I must have ate something I shouldn’t have because I’ve been sick for the past few days. Hopefully it’s not some kind of bacteria, but if it is I have some antibiotics with me. Tomorrow we’re heading to Herat and I’m not sure if I’ll have email access there or not.



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