BY KAI KIM, MESA, ARZIONA — We will soon depart for Zambia on August 8th. My role as a faculty member in this project is to help with the documentation of artists and storytellers. We want to see how artists work and how their tradition has been carried on from generation to generation throughout contemporary Zambia. We want to record storytellers talking about their lives, the connection between the past and modern Zambia.
It’s interesting to read some of the MCC students’ blog posts where they are talking about “visualization” and “vision” because that is one of the things I wanted to write about. In my classroom, I talk about how in prehistoric times, artists were considered “shamans” because they had the ability to “visualize” something before they made an attempt or tried to make it a reality. They would paint images of the battle and the hunt on the walls of their caves before actually doing it.
Art is a form of communication, communication of one’s idea, and concept in visual form. Art came before language and writing; there were symbols and visual images and we have been communicating with them for a very, very long time. I studied painting, photography, and filmmaking as an undergraduate at San Francisco Art Institute. In my opinion, film is one of the highest forms of art because it combines, all the aspects of visuals (composition, color, form, textures), sound / music, light, writing/poetry/storytelling, acting and so forth. I am really looking forward to participating in the process of making the film and the documentary. Since all of the faculty and students come from the Fine Art Department at Mesa Community College, I am also looking forward to seeing end results. I think it will be something special.
We would like to use some of the training and documentary bits for our curriculum at Mesa Community College, also. I’m really excited about being able use them as teaching tools in my classroom. We hope that other faculty members in cross-disciplinary areas will benefit from them as well. Some of the departments that might find additional value include cultural geography, anthropology, English humanities and theater.
As part of the Zambian project, we will also work on establishing an ongoing international education exchange program between Zambian Universities and Colleges and MCC. There will be four faculty members and about twelve students going from Mesa Community College. Mesa Community College has some of the best art and design students I’ve ever seen and I’ve taught at many different colleges and universities. At MCC, we have great students and great teachers! I think the students are very fortunate to have courageous, innovative, exciting teachers and administrators who are giving them the opportunity of a lifetime. I mean they will be learning something beyond what they can ever learn in a classroom. A real hands-on experience, not in the streets of Phoenix or Mesa but in the mountains and streets of ZAMBIA, AFRICA!