The New 411
By Raymond Ward
ARTS & CRAFTS: Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago has announced “Art Across Oceans” an international artist residency program in partnership with Play Africa, an emerging children’s museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. The program aims to create a cultural exchange between the children of the greater Chicago area and the children of the greater Johannesburg area using art and play—two universal media. Two South African artists will work with artists from Kohl Children’s Museum to conceive of, and co-create with children, a permanent artwork in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Glenview, Illinois. The artists will use traditional and contemporary South African techniques and materials to create art installations for both locations.
Museum Director of Education Erika Gray and Museum Education Specialist Tim Abel, both artists in their own right, will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa from March 13 – 19, while South African interdisciplinary artist and educator Ayesha Price from Cape Town and, printmaker, Khehla Chepape Makgato from Johannesburg will travel to Glenview to create art with Museum visitors on April 11, 12 and 15. The South African artists will also work with Chicago’s Off-the-Street Club and North Chicago Community Partners while they are here to incorporate art from children in under served neighborhoods in the area.
Children will use various printmaking techniques and recyclable materials to collaboratively create representations of home, culture, and environment. The artwork will then be digitized and projected on specially designed backdrops to create immersive environments that use artistic expression and mixed media to show the exciting differences and many similarities of both cultures.
“This is a unique opportunity to connect the exciting depth of artistic expression here at the Museum with children from other countries,” said Sheridan Turner, Kohl Children’s Museum President & CEO. “‘Art Across Oceans’ will provide a once-in-a-lifetime chance for children here to observe firsthand how children from different backgrounds develop their creative ideas, and to expose them to authentic creative processes from other cultures.”
At the conclusion of the project, on the morning of Saturday, May 14 the two art sites in Johannesburg and Glenview will be connected via a scheduled video chat that will allow Chicago area children to interact remotely with their counterparts in Johannesburg and discuss their projects.
Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago was founded in 1985 as an extension of the Kohl Teaching Center in Wilmette, one of four such centers in Illinois and Israel conceived by Dolores Kohl in 1972 and supported by the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation. Offering creative methods of enhancing traditional approaches to teaching, Kohl Teaching Centers provide training and educational resources to teachers and helps them incorporate hands-on experiences into their classrooms. Kohl Children’s Museum was founded to continue reaching educators and extend its service to meet the growing needs of families and the community at large through interactive exhibits and hands-on programs for children ages birth to 8. Around 330,000 people visit Kohl Children’s Museum each year. The Museum has approximately 7,000 member families, who enjoy the purpose-built facility, 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits, and easily accessible location.
Play Africa Group is a South African non-profit company (NPC) run with the efficiency of a business. Play Africa creates safe, child-centered public play and learning spaces that are vibrant, fun and inclusive. It is a part of a growing global movement that believes in the transformative power of play and experiential, hands-on learning. The Mission of Play Africa is to offer every child an educational experience worthy of their potential, creating curious and engaged learners who are proudly South African, proudly African and proudly citizens of the world.