Artist uses humor to get students talking about conflict
Artist and writer damali ayo will visit the Midcoast Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 14 and 15, and do creativity workshops with sixth- through eighth-graders in Appleton, Hope and Lincolnville, said Lindsay Pinchbeck, board member of Partners for Enrichment.
The nonprofit is bringing ayo to the area for the workshops, as well as a public appearance at the Strom Auditorium at Camden Hills Regional High School at 7 p.m. Jan. 15.
Pinchebeck, who met ayo through a national arts organization, said Partners for Enrichment wanted to bring someone into the schools who is known for using the arts to examine topics like racism and gender and who could help students talk about these subjects.
The workshops will include a slide show about “art that makes you think and art that makes you feel,” Pinchbeck said. Some of the images will be of ayo's own artworks, along with works by other artists that address social issues, she said.
In addition, students will write about issues that are important to them and make some art of their own.
The workshops will be 90 minutes each; Riley School and Ashwood Waldorf School have also been invited to bring their eighth-graders. The presentations will use humor and stories to talk about charged issues, from race to bullying, Pinchbeck said. She added that ayo has worked with youth from kindergarten through 12th-grade.
The performance at the Strom, which Pinchbeck says is appropriate for older children and adults, will focus more on ayo's personal story, as well as using art to open a dialogue about the issues that divide people. Pinchbeck noted that even in a community that is relatively homogenous, people have biases, whether it is where you live or who you sit with at lunch. She said ayo is able to help people talk about difficult subjects comfortably and recognize their biases.
The cost for the Wednesday evening performance, titled "You have to mess with people (but don't let them mess with you)," is $10 for adults, with a suggested donation of $5 for students; however, Pinchbeck said no student will be turned away because of inability to pay. Tickets are available at Appleton Library, Hope General Store, HAV II and Owl and Turtle Bookshop in Camden, Rockport Public Library, Left Bank Books in Belfast and Hello, Hello Books in Rockland, as well as online at sweettreearts.org.
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.