Our annual procession is an example of how we use art as a form of self-expression. Andrea Lomanto is a New York City-based arts educator. She has lead and taken part in processions in New York City and is among our most creative friends and supporters at ArtWorks for Youth. Her visits to Port Elizabeth are three weeks long and are packed with plans for visual and performing plans and little time to execute.
Approximately sixty students are asked to come up with a theme related to something they either want to celebrate or something about which they are unhappy. Our first two themes were hunger, (chosen when the government decided to end the school districts feeding program,) and Girls’ Power and Rights. Our third procession was called “Abameli Bemfundo (People Standing Together for Education.) Our students protested the many challenging issues they face within their schools, such as corporal punishment, absent teachers, sexual harassment and abuse by teachers and students, lack of furniture, substandard teaching, and poor facilities.
Once a theme is chosen, students are challenged to express their concerns via visual images and performance. We make large-scale puppets, masks, and other props through which they can express their joy or unhappiness.
Our most recent was a mini-procession. We held a mock funeral for the Eastern Cape Department of Education. Our students are tired of entering rooms in which there are no teachers and of being ill-prepared for life beyond high school.
The point of these processions is not just to make change, but in assisting our students in finding the words to express how they feel about a given issues and then, further, finding ways to speak of these issues through visual and performing arts.