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Exploring Art, Expressing Emotion

There aren’t many events that provide a chance to express creativity with watercolors, learn new dance moves, create complex origami, and try out traditional Guatemalan instruments all in the same day—but last Saturday, we did just that with around 50 kids from Las Rosas/Xeul, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Xela.

If it sounds a little crazy, I’ll be the first to assure you that it was! But everything went smoothly thanks to the collaboration of some incredible artists, musicians, and dancers from around Guatemala, not to mention some fantastic volunteers.

As the kids rotated from station to station, they got to explore each art form with an experienced Guatemalan artist. They danced with a contemporary dancer who’s finishing her university degree specializing in dance. They tried out traditional Guatemalan flutes and drums and blew into a huge conch shell with a musician from Sololá, a few hours away from Xela. They were able to paint with watercolors, blowing air through a straw to create a splatter paint effect—a new art form for most of them—with an incredible young artist from here in Xela.

At each station, the kids got a stamp in a small “passport” we made for them. They’re art explorers, after all, and any good explorer has his or her passport always at the ready! They proudly displayed both their passports and their artwork to the volunteers as they rotated around the stations, keeping their energy under control enough (for the most part) to learn from and interact with each of the artists.

Events like this are always so much fun, and we had a blast! But it’s about more than seeing smiles on kids’ faces. One of the reasons we work with music and dance is because, as well as being something kids love, it provides a healthy way for them to express their feelings and emotions, and can also boost their self-confidence and encourage creativity—things we’re all about here at SDM.

One more reason we loved this event is that we got to participate in an awesome partnership with Festival Quinto Sol, a very cool art and music festival here in Xela, and collaborate with amazing local artists, musicians, and dancers. As SDM, we always aim to be listening to, working with, and learning from the community. This doesn’t apply only to our partner organizations, but to the music and dance community in Xela as a whole. We try to never come in and decide what people need, but instead to sit and listen, collaborate, and support the incredible work already being done in Xela and around Guatemala.

And this event was a wonderful celebration of that work—the work of local artists, after school programs like Caras Alegres (where the event was held) that support underprivileged kids in Xela, and a festival that aims to make art and music accessible to everyone!

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