Three American artists are currently in the country to run series of workshops for local artists. They came through the American Embassy programme called Art in Embassies (AIE) which is aimed at art exchange programmes in their embassies around the world. The American Ambassador to Botswana Earl Miller expressed his excitement to be hosting the three artists, saying it is their aim to develop art as a career and also as a sustainable profession. He said the US State Department’s Office of Art in Embassies is set to promote cross cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts by curating permanent collections, temporary exhibitions and cultural outreach programs at US diplomatic facilities.
“All of them have masters in arts and they are also here to learn techniques that they can go and use back home,” he said. He added that AIE exchange participants help bring art to life through the power of shared experience. The programme started on October 19 and ends on October 27. They started with a public lecture at Molepolole College of Education. From October 24th to 27th the artists will be at the Maun International Arts Festival. They will also hold workshops and complete the phase of the mural at Maun Public Library.
One of the artists Jill Garlaneau - who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printing and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Painting - said most of her work is inspired by the little things around her. It can either be the bridge that she passed everyday as a child; it might be food and even the people around her. Her primary materials are paper and paint which she uses to build both collages and installations. “I like creating my own version of things, my work can be inspired by lollipops or even poodles,” she said, encouraging local artists to understand that being an artist is broad because she works also as a stylist for photo-shoots especially those for food magazines where she did not even know that such a job exists.
Jacquelyn Gleisner studied Fine Art and History and has an MFA in Painting. She is a lecturer and also writes about contemporary art for different Medias. Gleisner said her art is pattern decorative inspired where she takes small things and scale them large. Her background in history also inspires her to come up with certain designs that she does and how she put them. Peter Clouse, the only male in the pack, does not buy all the materials that he uses in his craft. He said this is to inspire people to stop saying that they are not doing art because they do not have money to buy materials and things like that.
He works with electronic wires to create large weavings and he recently obtained his MFA. His work deals with waste, technology, mapping, consumption, life, equality, identity, strength and power. He said some of the inspiration comes from being raised by a single mom. Thapong Visual Arts Centre Director Reginald Bakwena encouraged the local artists’ to learn the great presentation and selling skills of art from their American counterparts.