This spring, the elders at Africa House started taking an art class every Friday provided by Portland Parks and Recreation. It turned out to be a huge hit. The room would be packed every week. The teacher would model what they were to do, and they would then quietly set to work, hunched over their papers, almost complete silence in the classroom. But then W showed back up from her several months back home in Ethiopia, and she started singing during the quiet. And then T would join her, and others would hum along. It was lovely.
Also lovely was the art these elders created. Nearly every page is filled to the edges with color and shape and pattern. No one asks them to fill the whole space; color and vibrancy just seems to be something reflective of what's going on inside them. One of our ladies proudly writes her name on each thing she creates. A man in our class has become so prolific that he continues his work at home, bringing in what he finished to show the teacher and his friends.
As these things so often seem to go, money is running out for this art class, so we have decided to display the artists' work and sell them in order to raise money for tuition and supplies. There are two ways you can buy:
1. Go to YoChoice Yogurt at 4941 NE Fremont St., Portland, OR 97213 and check out the art hanging there. If you find one you'd like to buy, email me at ourownrooney at gmail dot com, and I'll meet you down there to make the purchase. While you're there, be sure to try the deliciousness that is YoChoice yogurt. The owner, Andre, is a fantastic person.
2. Go to www.africaneldersofpdx.etsy.com and buy a print online. Don't worry if a print you want says it's sold out. We can easily make more! Autumn put this shop together and helped me hang the prints at YoChoice. I could not have done this without her. Thank you, Autumn!
Along with every print you buy, you will receive a photo and short bio of the artist. The artists are all from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. I know and love them all. These art classes are a true bright spot in their lives, and I find their art to be gorgeous. I hope you do too.