AAC is a private, nonprofit contemporary visual arts center dedicated to presenting and supporting new work by regional artists in the mid-Atlantic States. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and subsidized studio spaces, the AAC serves as a bridge between artists and the public. ATS is a unique public school in Arlington County focusing on a traditional education with a strong academic program. AAH helps children in rural Uganda reach their full potential through a good education and basic healthcare.
Penelope Nunes, AAC Director of Education, is the primary project coordinator for the AAC, AAH and ATS partnership. Mrs. Nunes is experienced in directing an international project of this scope, and has successfully organized and implemented "This is My City" with students in Arlington and El Salvador. She works closely with instructors to ensure that course curricula are both engaging and age-appropriate, and with each organization to keep directors and participants informed.
The AAC, AAH, and ATS partnership serves to create an international art exchange project for Arlington elementary school students with children from the outskirts of Mbale, Uganda. ATS and AAH are sister schools and have an established relationship, while AAC and ATS are connected through an overlap in enrolled students: a large percentage of students who take AAC art classes attend ATS. Through the "This is My City" project, AAC will further strengthen these ties by providing course curricula, facilitating two exhibitions in a professional gallery setting, and raising awareness of AAH and its strong relationship with ATS.
"This is My City" will give elementary-aged students from Arlington and Mbale the opportunity to observe their own neighborhoods using simple cameras, and to record these observations and express points of view. Led by experienced teachers, students will explore urban and rural landscapes, study photography fundamentals, and learn how to capture the sights and faces in their own backyards. The resulting collection of photographs will be on view in AAC's Jenkins Community Gallery in late 2011, and will then travel to AAH for exhibition there.
AAC, AAH, and ATS have begun preparations for the first portion of this partnership. This May, students from ATS and AAH will exhibit works on paper side by side in AAC's Jenkins Gallery. This exhibition will also include letters between ATS and AAH students, demonstrating the close ties between the two schools. The second stage of the partnership is preparation for "This is My City", so that students in Uganda can begin their classes this summer (AAH is in session in June and July), and ATS students can begin their classes after their summer break. AAC will collaborate with Arlington and Uganda instructors to adapt existing AAC course descriptions and syllabi. AAC will also seek out volunteers for the Arlington photography class, and cameras for the students in Uganda and Arlington students in need.
We feel that students in Arlington and Uganda will greatly benefit from the opportunity, particularly rare for elementary-aged students, to participate in a visual arts-focused cultural exchange project. ATS and AAH students are excited about the prospect of collaborating with their peers in Uganda and Arlington, respectively. The greater Arlington community will also benefit from the two exhibitions (free and open to the public) in Jenkins Gallery, which speak to Arlington's diverse communities.
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