Tag Archives: art

Thank You Friends! What Would We Do Without You? NYC Part 2

Here is another batch of photos – courtesy of Jason Rearick and Marcus Alexander of Epoch Times – from our special evening with friends at AoC’s Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in Manhattan.

Thank you again to our sponsors, volunteers, board members, musicians, Pratt faculty, friends and family. A special thanks for new funding offered by the Norman and Bettina Roberts Foundation.

Dave & Lucy at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013Dave and Lucy.

Keynote by Lucy at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013A slide from Dr. Lucy Spelman’s excellent keynote. She asks, “How can we help people feel closer to wild animals the way they feel about their pets?”

Jolie at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013I am so happy to see and talk with my longtime childhood friend Jolie!

Missing CHT at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013Andrew and Allison take time out to reflect on the Conservation Heritage – Turambe team in Rwanda and how much we all miss them.

Julie, Jocelyn, Cheryl. Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013I am here with ceramics artist Jocelyn and our fabulous hostess Cheryl.

Tracy & Crystal Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013Honorary Board Member Tracy Levine and an extraordinary volunteer, Crystal, share a moment in front of photography on display.

Dalton at Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in NYC November 2013Another extraordinary volunteer DALTON!

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Allison with artist Rodrigo Valles.

AoC's Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser in New York City November 2013Daniel, Scarlett, and Dawn are kind supporters of AoC.

Thanks again everyone for a successful event.

Artist Amy Harris Helps AoC

From Julie Ghrist

Allison, Lucy, and I are on our way to the Karanambu Trust and Eco-Lodge in Guyana, South America tomorrow for a week of activities with the local people in the North Rupununi region. Being invited and accompanined by Dr. Lucy Spelman, an AoC Board Member and active team member at the Karanambu Trust, is an honor. We are frantically putting together our supplies and education materials. Tomorrow morning is going to come quickly! Why even sleep tonight since we are leaving for our respective airports at 4:00am and still much to do?

With Amy Harris in Des Moines. Art of Conservation 2013Sitting with Amy Harris discussing animals, science, culture, and art.

I couldn’t have done all the prep work for the trip without the generous contribution from artist Amy Harris. Amy, an Iowa native, with a MFA and BFA in painting is a senior lecturer at Iowa State University’s College of Design. Amy loves drawing which is great because I asked her two weeks ago if she could create proportional drawings of the Giant River Otter, jaguar, Red Howler Monkey as well as straight on black and white outline drawings of these animals plus an arapaima fish and Red & Green Macaw. Her drawings are beautiful. I can hardly wait to meet the Amerindians of Guyana and work together with them with AoC’s one-health conservation education and health awareness activities. Truly a dream for me. Amy is expecting to see all of the photographs that Allison, Lucy, and I take of the children busy with the art activities.

Amy Harris with macaw drawing. Art of Conservation 2013This morning at Amy’s front door… picking up the last of the masks – the Red & Green Macaw.

To see Amy’s work please find her at Bent Edge Alchemy. Her work with fabric is beautiful. She tells me she had a lot of fun with these animal drawing exercises – I’m glad because she helped AoC in a BIG way!

Giant River Otter mask. Original drawing by artist Amy Harris. Art of Conservation. 2013Colored in Giant River Otter mask. Here we come Guyana!

Thank you Amy for your support. Once we return, we’ll share with you how you’ve helped touched minds, hearts, and imaginations in Guyana.

The job and everyday life-style of taking care of our animals, natural spaces, children, human & animal health is a joint effort by people of all disciplines. I hope that this is clearer to more people around the world. Artists, scientists, teachers, health professionals, tour operators, Moms and Dads, and on and on all need to be engaged in caring for our home, Earth.

Animals in the Virungas: Black-Fronted Duiker

From Valerie

Black-fronted duikers (Cephalophus nigrifrons) inhabit the Virungas with the mountain gorillas. Today we add this beautiful animal to our list that deserves to be talked about, cerebrated, and protected.

Our students seem to confuse the duiker with the bushbuck. They are not so wrong because bushbucks live alongside the duikers. To help them understand more about them, I show the children different visuals (photos) that Julie recently took during her visit to the original Dian Fossey site in Volcanoes National Park. By chance, she was able to spot duikers in a meadow. I add more information such as they eat a variety of fruits and succulent vegetation; they are adapted to swamp forest and marshes at both low and high altitudes like in Volcanoes National Parks. Next I introduce the art activity which they enjoy very much. Their drawings are a mixture of realistic, abstract, and funny!

It’s been a habit for us to bring helpful materials for our students to understand what we teach them. Above is a sample of a visual of Black–fronted duikers we bring in the classroom.

Our students love painting very much!! Using a pencil and then watercolors, see what nice pictures they come up with.

Watching Eusebe at the chalkboard and looking at visuals, these kids use their imagination and draw the duiker running, standing, or just ready to go!

Our students are free to express themselves through their drawings. They may even draw abstract pictures!

Wow! What nice pictures of Black-fronted duikers! They make me smile.

The team and I like to promote a safe learning environment where each student can express his or her thoughts.

Stay tuned, more is coming soon!

Silverback & His Family by AoC Children

From Julie
After learning many things about the silverback mountain gorilla and his habitat, AoC students put their knowledge on paper with creative expressions. Please take a look at Chantal and John’s pictures below.

Chantal, AoC Rushubi School student.

Chantal’s pictures of a silverback and a silverback with his family in the forest. Watercolor.

John, AoC Nyange School student.

John’s pictures of a silverback and a silverback with his family in the forest. Watercolor.

Act Now—Before Earth Day!

AoC Student Wearing Animal VisorLooking for a special way to give back this Earth Day? Art of Conservation (AoC) is excited to announce a new partnership with Wet Paint, an independently owned art supply store based in Minnesota, to help you make a bigger difference—just in time for Earth Day.

Wet Paint has generously offered to match all art supply donations dollar-for-dollar from our wish list on their website!

Your tax-deductible contribution right now will double in value to help us strengthen conservation and health messaging through the arts for children attending primary schools bordering Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

Just think—if you could donate $50 worth of arts supplies, then Wet Paint will contribute another $50—for a total of $100, multiplying the effect of your commitment to educating children and inspiring creative young minds.

Please help us reap the full benefit of this generous offer from Wet Paint—donate art supplies today! Make your tax-deductible gift of art supplies before Earth Day and see your generosity doubled!

AoC provides a safe and fun learning environment for students to discover and explore their world through hands-on activities. Every lesson we teach ends with an art project. Students are introduced to different forms of artistic expression, such as drawing and painting, among other hands-on activities, to strengthen understanding of concepts in conservation and health.

Our art projects incorporate themes such as drawing perspective, 3D shapes and shadowing, color effect, positive and negative space, mirror images, and more. Some examples of our students’ art projects include decorating rainforest animal visors, drawing and painting rainforest animals, making colorful tissue paper and paper mache mountain gorillas, creating conservation campaign posters, and much more!

AoC students are also given exciting opportunities to express themselves through music, song, and dance. They perform to heartening songs with conservation messages, using props and wearing colorful animal masks made by staff artists in the AoC studio. Staff artists also paint colorful conservation murals at the schools where the AoC works to further reinforce our messages.

There is no better time than right now to make a donation because it will be matched 100% by Wet Paint—that means your gift will go twice as far to help us in our efforts to nurture creativity through art projects and inspire new generations of conservation and health ambassadors.

Make your gift count for Earth Day—donate art supplies by this Sunday, April 22nd and help us take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity from Wet Paint. Together, we can empower the future leaders of Rwanda to protect their natural resources and mountain gorillas for generations to come!

Thank you sincerely for your support of our important conservation work in Rwanda.

World of Wonder

Hi, this is Eusebe. Our classes this week are extremely good. Deriving more inspiration from Mona Brookes and her creative method for drawing with children, we introduce symmetry, asymmetry, mirror imaging, and abstract design.

Eric talking about symmetry and asymmetry.  Art of Conservation 2012Eric talks about symmetrical and asymmetrical design with the children.

Our second art activity also goes smoothly with mirror imaging. Everyone is so excited to go to the chalkboard to practice.

Volunteers try mirror images.  Art of Conservation 2012Three volunteers at the board to try mirror imaging exercises. They are so motivated following our explanations. Children at their desks follow attentively and give their classmates help when necessary.

With our next exercise on abstract design, again taken from Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes, this offers the children a good time for discovery and using their own creativity. They need to listen to the lead teacher, follow many instructions, and play with the five basic elements of shape.

Student at the chalkboard.  Art of Conservation 2012Our student is so possessed by her abstract design. She is in another world, a world of creativity where most artists seem to be.

Bring Back The Cat

Leopard drawings by students of Art of Conservation 2011.A collection of children’s leopard drawings with a photograph I took last year in Botswana.

Today’s blog relates to the culmination of our year-long intensive conservation and health education classes with a terrific group of 200 plus children and their classroom teachers. By this point in our program, we’ve spent an extensive amount of time explaining what makes Volcanoes National Park a healthy ecosystem and why the health of the forest has significance in our daily lives however challenging our days may be. Our students now understand that not only is the survival of the critically endangered mountain gorilla of great import, but the other forest inhabitants well-being is just as vital. Hence our recent and comprehensive look at the golden monkey, bushbuck, forest buffalo, and rodentia… a beautiful cast of characters!

Most of the forest animals have been seen by the children outside of the park which led the team and I to speak to this human/wildlife conflict with discussions and eventually possible solutions on paper as the hands-on activity. It’s always nice to come away with possible solutions rather than perpetual feelings of defeat or fright.

Yes, the leopard conjures up feelings of fright for the children but after viewing this animal in other ways I noticed the children were much more open to the concept of being its neighbor albeit with a certain set of respectful boundaries!

Learning about leopards.  Art of Conservation 2011Learning about leopards.

We get to a point in our discussion when children and the AoC team alike share leopard folklore. The stories are priceless. Valerie shares with us her experiences of growing up in the Rwandan countryside as a member of the Abanyankuzo people which, by the way, the Abanyankuzo girls are known as being very intelligent, of course! Valerie, as a little girl, remembers hearing that when a mother delivers her baby a leopard will come round the house to kiss the newborn and then leave.

At a young age, Valerie was also told that it was taboo to say ‘leopard’ at night before going to bed because a leopard would then come and kill them in their sleep. If she or one of her siblings uttered the word ‘leopard’ they would quickly say, “Nkoze ku gahera ndi umugenzi nawe ukaba undi.” Saying these Kinyarwanda words would prevent the leopard coming during the night to harm them.

Also, when the bird called ‘rushorera’ in Kinyarwanda would call out its warning this would alert Valerie and her siblings that a leopard was near. Upon hearing the rushorera, you can be sure that Valerie and her siblings would immediately run to their house for saftey.

Innocent, Olivier, Eric, and Eusebe have also gathered invaluable stories about the leopard which we will continue to share with you.

Eusebe begins the drawing lesson.  AoC 2011Eusebe at the chalkboard leading the children in a leopard drawing.

I receive mixed information from children and adults as to whether or not leopards are still in and around Volcanoes National Park. It may be that they are found mostly on the DRC side of the Virungas. I also tend to think that our students get civets, genets, and African cats mixed up with leopards. Hopefully now after our lesson they have a better understanding of this beautiful and elusive animal and the many threats it faces. Excessive hunting and loss of habitat are two threats that all the animals are facing and which we hope our students fully recognize.

Our health and the health of wildlife is inextricably connected. We should feel it our duty to care and protect the forests and animals no matter what part of the world we live in.

Forest Buffaloes, In Discussion & Art with Rwandan Children

Forest Buffaloes live in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.  Art of Conservation 2011.Forest Buffalo drawings by AoC students.

Forest Buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus) live in the Virunga Massif and are referred to by many African names, such as imbogo y’ishyamba and igifushyi. Igifushyi translates loosely to mean forest buffaloes are always sniffing and this sniffing allows poachers to detect it from a distance. These Bovidae are also referred to as Rwarikamavubi meaning that when a forest buffalo is mature, wasps build their nests between its horns. So when the buffalo moves you can be sure that wasps are accompanying it!

Drawing Forest Buffaloes from Volcanoes National Park.   AoC 2011An AoC student draws animals found in Volcanoes National Park.

Additional names, such as igihurambuga and urutango, translate to mean that a forest buffalo is really a strong, gigantic, and scary animal.

Forest Buffaloes live in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.  Art of Conservation 2011.Forest Buffalo drawings by AoC students.

The team and I distribute visuals and masks and share with the students the animals current population status, characteristics, recognition, distribution, habitat, and behavior. The African Forest Buffaloes and the Savannah Buffaloes have habitat differences and there are even cases of crossbreeding but they are generally classified as two different subspecies. This is the case for the Volcanoes National Park Forest Buffaloes and the Akagera National Park Savannah Buffaloes. Forest buffaloes live in groups of 5 to 20 individuals, feeding on tender shoots of grass, cane and leaves.

Drawing Forest Buffaloes.  AoC 2011Painting a Forest Buffalo while ‘being’ a Forest Buffalo.

The Forest Buffalo’s typical habitat is the dense jungle of western and central Africa. Their distribution includes the central jungle of DRC, Gabon, Congo, southern Cameroon and the coastal forests of Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Liberia and Guinea.

Forest Buffaloes live in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.  Art of Conservation 2011.Forest Buffalo drawing by an AoC student.

Local community members are frightened when moving around their villages in the early morning hours because Forest Buffaloes are often out of the park grazing.

Forest Buffaloes live in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.  Art of Conservation 2011.Forest Buffalo drawings by AoC students.

My team and I, with the guidance from the park service, inform our students the safest ways in which we can live safely with wildlife that occasionally moves out of the protected forest and into community lands. Much more work needs to be done as more and more animals seem to be crossing the park’s boundaries.

What Happens When…

What happens when a golden monkey, a giant pouched rat, a bushbuck, and a mountain gorilla cohabite in Volcanoes National Park?

You have a healthy ecosystem!

Art of Conservation students put these animals – which they’ve recently studied – together in drawings. Here is a collection of their watercolors.

Mountain Gorilla, Golden Monkey, Giant Pouched Rat, Bushbuck.  Art of Conservation 2011.Healthy ecosystem 1.

Mountain Gorilla, Golden Monkey, Giant Pouched Rat, Bushbuck.  Art of Conservation 2011.Healthy ecosystem 2.

Mountain Gorilla, Golden Monkey, Giant Pouched Rat, Bushbuck.  Art of Conservation 2011.Healthy ecosystem 3.

Children’s Drawings: Bushbucks Live in Volcanoes National Park

Bushbucks, Tragelaphus scriptus, are known in Kinyarwanda as impongo and also sometimes referred to a imbabala. After earlier in-depth mountain gorilla study and activities followed by lessons highlighting other animals inhabiting Volcanoes National Park, we get to the bushbuck. This is the most widespread antelope in Sub-Saharan Africa and is found in rain forests, montane forests, forest-savanna mosaics, bush savanna forests, and woodlands. As we did in previous lessons, we distribute visuals and masks and talk about the bushbuck’s current population status, characteristics, recognition, distribution, habitat, and behavior.

Getting to know bushbucks.  AoC 2011Our Rushubi School classroom of children learning about animals living in Volcanoes National Park. Today’s focus is on the bushbuck.

Bushbuck in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda by Art of Conservation 2011.A collection of bushbuck drawings from children.