We crossed over the Suriname River on the Jules Wijdenbosch Bridge on our way to the town of Moengo. In the distance, you can see a boat that was scuttled during WWII and has remained in the river ever since.
In less than 2 hours, we arrived at the Tembe Art Center in Moengo. The Tembe Art Center is housed in the former hospital built by SURALCO/ALCOA back in the heydays of Moengo when it was a bauxite mining hub.
In short order we headed out to the middle school where Terry and I would be working with a group of students to help construct our sculpture, Colloquy. Prior to arriving to Suriname, Terry and I inquired if someone could line-up some of the materials we would need. Local artist Razia Barsatie came through in a BIG WAY for us and secured these mega 2"x4"s and several sheets of plywood (check out Lih-Lan Wong's description of Razia and her work by clicking HERE).
That night, at dinner, I was introduced to this fiery death sauce. Tasty, but burny.
The next day we got to witness an impressive spectacle......
There is no high school in Moengo. Formal schooling goes through middle school (9th grade). You take a comprehensive exam at the end of that year and either you pass or fail. Some who fail can make up an area or two of deficiency, but depending on your score, you may have to repeat the entire grade again. Those who pass the exam, can go on to high school, but the closest one is an hour away OR if you have family in Paramaribo, you go live with them while you attend high school. Either way, it's a pretty emotional day for the students to come to the school and learn their fate when they see their scores posted.
Terry and I saw a wide range of reactions. Honestly, there were a couple of times when I couldn't tell if the student was ecstatic or devastated.
That night we were invited to go to the ninth grade graduation ceremony/celebration. It was an honor to be invited to share that evening with the students and their families.
Just an aside, did I mention that the property that abutted our lodging in Moengo had chickens? and by chickens I mean, nature's cacophonous alarm clocks.
I now know why we eat chickens.........revenge!
Prior to traveling to Suriname, Terry Rathje designed and laid out the cross sections for our giant heads (think ribs of a wooden boat before the hull is attached). He broke the image down into patterns, printed them out, taped them together, and rolled them up into his suitcase for travel. It is difficult to overstate the ramifications of Terry's efforts. Without these patterns and the time/thought/effort put into them, mission success would have been unlikely. Thank you, Terry.
In addition to cutting out 'the ribs' for the heads, we also cut out 14 4' in diameter plywood discs for our students to design and paint. We had them do small sketches on paper and then showed them how to transfer their image to a larger circle using a grid. Mmmmm, proportions.
The next step was to obtain some paint. The cans were not labeled in English, so I had to guess at what we had. I could have sworn I saw something that looked like 'acrylic latex' on the side of the can. I have never seen an acrylic latex paint eat through plastic and Styrofoam cups before.......Good times.
We left the content of their drawings up to the kids to determine. They covered a wide range of ideas/topics/motifs. Here is Gwenieva smiling and showing off one of her designs.
Melony hard at work.
Threecio laying down some color.
Valencia beginning to paint her complex image.
Orkney was a very gifted, creative, and fun-loving artist. However, when the camera came out, he was all business.
While the students were painting, Terry and I were amassing a small army of strangely shaped cut-outs against the outside wall of our classroom.
Back to the painting.....
The U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo (link http://suriname.usembassy.gov/) helped Terry and I say 'Thank You' to the students who worked on the Colloquy project by providing us with a couple of boxes of soccer balls as gifts (as well as half a dozen balls for the school itself).
I would like to thank Mandy Vanderbos, Lydi-Ann Resodimedjo, Wirjosentono Melony, Threecio Ansoe, Astraija Masa, Gwenieva Strijdhaftig, Orkney Kastiel, Valencia Karnawi, Damien Byeren, Norelly Kompai, Donovan Vanan, Britney Byeren, Mikael Akale, Souenna Byeren, and Rozenhout Haisha for all of their hard work and great attitudes on this project. Please accept my apologies for any/all misspellings AND I apologize to the two or three students who I know helped on the project, but weren't present the day I had everybody jot down their names so I could acknowledge them. You all helped make Colloquy a reality and Terry and I had a great time working with you!