Engaging on the third such tour in the last 4 years, I was graciously hosted by the US Department of State & the US Embassy / American Corner in Tajikistan to spend a week conducting workshops on 3d street painting geared towards elementary and high school students in central and Northwest Tajikistan.
What an amazing secret in the heart of Central Asia! Tajikistan is a peaceful country which evolved out of Soviet occupation and civil war just 20 years ago. It’s culture is vibrant and rich, with ancient history dating back to Zoroastrian roots. Tajik, Persian, Russian and English are spoken here which represents the influences of these diverse cultures that undoubtedly molded today’s Tajikistan.
My journey began in the capital of Dushanbe, which boasts a population of 679,400 people in central Tajikistan. After a long delay of our flight to Khujand on a national airline, my American Corner hosts opted for driving to Khujand through the mountains, which afforded me the opportunity to view the wild and majestic landscape of this mountainous region. Fortunately for me there were plenty of yummy food and craft stops on the way, which introduced me to the wonderful cuisine & art culture of Tajikistan. Not having to traverse the decidedly dangerous and TV worthy mountain pass, our car took the newly opened ‘Chinese’ tunnel which cut about 2 hours off of our journey. We made it to Khujand in about 4 hours, where I was welcomed with open arms by the kind and gentle people of this country. Certainly experiencing the culture, cuisine, customs and philosophy of this country was a big blessing for me and a perk of drawing here. After the program geared toward high school students in Khujand completed, with overwhelming success, we hit Gonchi on the way back to Dushanbe for a presentation to elementary level students. Needless to say they flipped when they saw their first 3d image!
My workshops were held at the American Corner offices in each city, and the turn out was tremendous! Announcements had gone out notifying locals that a 3d street artist was coming to town and the curiosity got the best of them. The faculty and students had never heard of 3d street painting but by the end of the first day they were converts. By day two many had gone home to research the art form on the internet and were excited to be making their first drawings with my guidance. I love turning young people on to this art form – the empowerment and inspiration they derive from these types of art programs illustrate creative possibilities which open their minds! That is my greatest reward. We collectively worked on some group paintings and then the students created individual images. Even the pre-schoolers got involved as families had heard about the event on radio Vatan 106FM and came down to check it out. The final day turned into a mini street painting festival with all sorts of works manifesting – a unique and wonderful experience for everyone who participated.
I need to express a very special thank you to US Ambassador Susan Elliott for supporting the effort by joining in at our Dushanbe workshop!
A warm and hearty Thank You! to the US Embassy Cultural Affairs / American Corner team who made it all possible: Wesley Robertson, Sandra Jacobs, Mahmud Naimov, Nicole Bayer, Pavitz Aydarshoev, Shavkat Minekulov, Madina Pulatova, Dibar Sattorova, and drivers Anwar and Sharif.
Thanks also to Anna Kositsina and team at Vatan 106FM for interest and air time; and to Matt Bowman at Eternity Arts for making sure we had terrific chalk to work with!
For a comprehensive photo journal of my Tajikistan workshops and travels, please visit my Flickr Photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tlsart/sets/72157632056235503/