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A Visit to Karamu House Introduced Covenant's Saturday Tutoring Group to Art and Drama

On May 4, 2002, a group of 29 students, 5 tutors, and two parents visited Karamu House, which is our nation's oldest African-American cultural center. Karamu House is probably best known for its theater productions, but it also offers a variety of visual and performing art classes for children and adults. During our visit, our students participated in painting and drama workshops.

In the art studio, we met Ms. Wright, who taught our group to paint a garden of flowers with tempera paints. She said that many people think they cannot paint, but everyone can be a painter. She held a sheet of green paper in front of her, and began showing us how to use simple brushstrokes to paint small daisies and tulips.

Ms. Wright walked around the studio's long table and provided constant encouragement for the students while they were working. She told us that we didn't need to worry about making mistakes because all flowers are beautiful. She suggested mixing the paints to make new colors, and we continued adding different kinds of flowers to our paintings. By the end of the workshop, the students had filled their papers with flowers, and each student's painting was unique.

The students also took part in a drama workshop led by Mr. Jones, who is better known as "Storm E. Weather". He invited the students to step onto a small stage with plain walls and a couch, window, and door. With Storm E.'s guidance, the students made up their own lines and gave their characters personalities. The students did several skits and dramatic readings, and then Storm E. performed a monologue for the group.

All of the young men in our group performed a skit that portrayed Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Tupac Shakur as football players. One by one, as the students playing Martin, Malcolm, and Tupac ran to receive passes, they were taken down in the prime of their lives and fell to the ground. This very moving skit helped the whole group learn about these leaders, the senselessness of violence, and the importance of teamwork.

On previous field trips, our group has seen things--like science exhibits, priceless works of art, and antiques from the past. But at Karamu House, the students looked inside themselves to make their own art and express their feelings through painting and acting. It is our hope that the time we spent together at Karamu House helped the children discover new ways of developing their senses of self esteem, creativity and imagination.

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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Cleveland, OH 44106