Sherri Andreas! Sherri is a look-term Athentikos I AM ART Camp Alumni and we are honored that she joined the board this year. She began her journey with Athentikos in 2015 when she joined the I Am Art trip to Casa Bernabe. She often says that her heart came to Guatemala and never left.Continue reading
I AM ART Guatemala In-Country Coordinator
Kathlyn is the wife of Noé and mother of our precious daughter Hadassah. They live in Guatemala. She grew up as an “artist” whether it was sketching during classes, creating bicycles out of twisty-ties or painting rocks. As an adult, she now enjoys painting, drawing, baking exotic things and photography. She is passionate about showing people that they are special. Shortly after moving to Guatemala in 2013, she participated in an I AM ART camps and it was life-changing. Shortly after that, she joined the Athentikos staff in Guatemala to prepare camp details.
Q&A with Kathlyn
Kathlyn also taught two drawing and watercolor online workshop focus on Pet Portraits. Check them out!
Amelia Moore and her husband, Scott were introduced to the beautiful country of Guatemala in 2005 through the adoption of their two sons. Her formal background is in art and graphic design, and from these creative fields, she discovered a love of photography in 2003. She’s now a full-time award-winning photographer working in events and portraits whose been featured in People Magazine, OK! Magazine, Chopped and numerous websites. You can see examples of her work at www.ameliajmoore.com.
David Lee has led dozens of trips to Guatemala with Athentikos since 2015. He’s a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, TN who began playing music after watching old-timers playing the blues on the front porch as a child in Mississippi. I AM ART allows David to combine his passion for creativity with his desire to help other people. David lives in Nashville and loves to fish, go camping, and be creative
About the author:
Cristha Fuentes is a powerhouse artist. She is a beautiful Guatemalan designer who uses the art of leather design to tell graceful stories. Her shoe and bag designs are outstanding. (Yes, most of the Athentikos teams now own her work.) Her work is inspiring and her compassion is even more contagious. She has been volunteering with Athentikos since 2016 and while she has participated in helping with several of our mural projects and has led other workshops, this was the first time she was in charge of the whole mural project. And it was a BIG ONE! On top of that, half of the artist mission team had to cancel at the last minute due to the growing concern at the beginning of March 2020 of the impact of the cornavirus. A week after this camp the world shut down. However, this “small” team completed one of our largest projects to date and still engaged with nearly 100 kids to encourage personal growth through various creative workshops. Each child loved participating in the mural project and loved picking a bright color to represent their home and presence in the community. Now as the kids walk by the mural daily, they will be reminded of their value, their rights and their unique purpose as a child of God.
Cristha’s reflections on this process below are inspiring. Cristha, THANK YOU for sharing your talents and passion with us. You are generous, kind, patience and beyond talented! Check out Cristha’s work here.
“You only get to be a first time muralist once” David Lee, the Athentikos Team Leader said in one of the team meetings during the preparation time for an I AM ART camp. “That’s right!” I thought to myself. His comment made me put aside whatever conflicts I was facing in the first days and just focus on enjoying the beauty of being a beginner.
Before this mural, the last time I felt like a “beginner” was my first Athentikos camp in 2016, and it happened to be with the same community in Guatemala City of, La Limonada. God works in mysterious ways by bringing me back to this same place to experience being a “beginner” again.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into until Sunday when we arrived at the church and I stood next to that 13x3m wall. It was overwhelming. I had no words to describe that feeling, other than I immediately felt myself shrinking and becoming a tiny human standing in front of a giant.
Frustration came first, then fear, but after that humility and excitement reigned; I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to face that giant by myself. I had an amazing team! I had the talented Perry Tibbins (the master muralist) and the girlboss Jen Tercero to help me out during this process. And the kids loved being a part of something so large together. Sure, I’m an artist in my own way, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t learn something new, especially from such talented people. In that moment I realized I didn’t have to face this alone, and God’s plan started happening: my ego was broken, my mind was open, my heart enlarged.
Thanks to this mural experience, I learned so many lessons and so I want to list some of them:
By God giving me the feeling of being tiny, He was giving me the lesson that I’m just a small piece of a big work of art. I’m a tool in his master plan and I don’t get to choose if I like it or not, I just need to answer his calling and be open to whatever he wants to do. In this particular case it made me more humble, more aware, definitely less perfectionist and more happy; more like him, less like Cristha. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve grown in your relationship with God, there’s always something else to learn, some area in ourselves to improve. We have to make ourselves small so that HE grows.
Being a beginner is FUN. Since you don’t really know what you’re doing, you get to approach everything from a place of openness. You don’t know what to expect, you have no control and it allows you to be more aware and present. It’s really fun, it makes you feel like a kid again, and God loves kids (Matthew 18:2-4)
There are 2 ways you can approach things, whether in life or with a huge mural project: You can choose to be a critic, and try to find the faults and errors (and you will find them and you will never be satisfied.) OR you can practice grace, see beyond the flaws, and focus on the story behind the process. You will not only find beauty but also contentment.
I Am Art camps are amazing because they not only have a huge impact in the lives of the kids, but also in the lives of the leaders and team members. I’ve seen it not only in this camp but in ALL of the ones I’ve been to. God has so much to say and so much work to do in each person that attends these camps. I can honestly say that after all I’ve lived through and seen I want to continue doing this all my life. I’m simply amazed how God really works in mysterious ways, and I want to see how far He is going to take not only these camps but the whole vision of Athentikos.
Always mix the paints before using them! (This is not a deep lesson, I know, but for future muralists.) Don’t ever forget this, you’ll save so much time!
I could keep going, because there’s honestly so much to say…just like John 21:25 says: “There are so many other things that Jesus did. If they were all written down one by one, I suppose that the whole world could not hold the books that would be written”, there are not enough words to describe all he did.
To my amazing team: THANK YOU! You are family, and coronavirus couldn’t stop us!
Seasoned Guatemalan clay animator, Jen Tercero (Morena), volunteers with Athentikos by leading an online clay workshops as well as art camps in Guatemala. We are thrilled to have her as part of our volunteer team and love her heart to invest in others. She combines her life experience and love of art to inspire others
Morena is a vibrant Guatemalan artist, graphic designer and enthusiastic of experimental art. She has been teaching model clay since 2016 at universities, kids events, and several exhibitions. Morena has published two beautiful children’s books. She likes to share the art of using modeling clay as a way of art for all ages and professions to engage in art and understand the power of creativity. Morena has been serving with Athentikos since 2019.
What was it that got you interested in modeling clay?
“Ever since I was in preschool, I enjoyed play-doh…who doesn’t like play-doh?! My interest didn’t stop there but only began. When most people grow out of creating with such material, I took it to the next level. I remember when I was little my mom had a collection of claymation figures. I loved to look at them and always asked to play with them but was constantly denied the opportunity. So, I took to making an attempt at creating them myself.This would give me the chance to play with those different characters. As I continued to grow, claymation animation and stop motion movies fascinated me.”
Now how do you use clay modeling in your work?
“I am a graphic designer. This basically gives me freedom to experiment with my illustrations. I feel like modeling clay is a versatile and limitless material. I have made a lot of material focused towards children as I believe it’s a material that children identify with, therefore, it makes the illustrations more interesting to them. The process is simply to create the scenes, take photos, upload & process and then print in whatever format desired. I have printed books as well as various products for example backpacks and accessories. “
What has working with modeling clay taught you about yourself?
“Modeling clay is a material that you can never be 100% in control of. There are always textures that are produced without my intervention; it’s teamwork between the material and the artist. This has helped me realize that I can’t be in control of everything and even when things don’t turn out “perfect” it doesn’t mean that the result isn’t beautiful. I have learned to be patient, disciplined and open to appreciate the end result without looking for things to be perfect.”
What will we learn in the online modeling clay workshop?
“We will be making characters out of modeling clay. During the week we will learn how to work the clay, create textures and colors to be able to personalize our characters. But most importantly, we are going to have fun being creative!”
What is important about the creation process?
“The most important thing about art is EXPRESSION and ENJOYMENT!”
Thank you Jen for sharing your art and heart with the Athentikos community! The above projects were created in the Clay Workshop at the I AM ART camp with partnership organizations, Kids Alive International and Lemonade International.
To learn more about Morena and her work, follow her on instagram.
Take the Clay Workshop by joining the I AM ART Exchange!
Black Paper Workshop Project
Leader: Dawn Elsenbroek
Opal House 2019
Photography By Bev Abma
This workshop used colors and found objects to make their own paper.
First, the group painted homes, using colors which represented parts of their personality and who you are. ie: artistic, athletic, tall, short, big family, small family, introverted, extroverted, etc.
On day three, we added our sketches and black paper to the pulp blender. The black paper symbolized how yucky stuff happens in our lives and messes things up.
BUT on day four, we made something beautiful out of this yucky stuff……just like God will make something beautiful out of our bad circumstances… On the dried black handmade paper, we drew plants using oil pastels to make beautiful pictures. The color showed up really nicely on the black paper!
Finally, we create a village out of our houses and pictures and built a community tree in the middle of our village which show how the community can come together and help each other. We can look around and see the houses (people) in our community and how we might relate or help each other in our struggles. Some beautiful things can be created through the process.
I think if kids can understand the concept of God taking a bad situation and making something beautiful out of it, that would be a huge source of hope and motivation.
I AM GRATEFUL - GRACIAS SELF PORTRAITS
By: Amelia Moore // Photography By: Emily Foss, Bev Abma & Kathlyn Chan
The I AM ART projects are intentionally planned to help participants discover more about themselves and explore the world around them while developing creative and mental skills, strengthen their faith and develop personal identity. While each camp offers different workshops, we facilitate one project that all the kids create during the year. Here’s a little highlight of this Self-Portrait project which over 350 youth created in 2019.
One of the main themes of the I AM ART camp is understanding that we are each unique. During this self portrait project, students create an art piece that was inspired by the book cover, Wonder. The main theme of the movie is a middle school boy who looks different from everyone else. People are always aware of his differences. Although Aggie’s differences are obvious, the movie unveils in subtle ways that we are all different. While differences can make us self-conscious, with a new perspective, differences can strengthen us.
Throughout the week at I AM ART camp, students are encouraged to express themselves through art and learn new things about themselves. Part of the creative exploration process is to experience brokenness or pain through the art process; but then to celebrate restoration and our differences. During this self portrait project, the students end their self-portraits with only one eye. While the project is complete, it also symbolizes that we are all in process. God is creating a piece of art work within all of us.
When you look at this project, perhaps you feel uncomfortable that an eye is missing. However, after sitting with the pieces, reading the student responses and then looking at them collectively, you’ll notice a profound shift in how you feel about the project. You’ll notice the subtle beauty of the color; the beautiful shape of the eyes and hair; the sweet words written by kids who have experienced intense trauma. What else are you drawn too?
After creating the self portrait, the students were encouraged to write about themselves around the face, what they are thankful for and what they learned during the week of I AM ART. Many expressed gratitude to the volunteers for the I AM ART week… and we want to extend that gratitude towards our donors as well.
Because of your contribution, youth were able to participate in art projects like this that taught them of their value and helped them think critically.
Why You Should Join an I Am Art Camp
Former Athentikos intern Courtney Noya reflects on her unexpected participation with I Am Art, and how anyone can join despite doubt and inhibitions.
When I first began working with Athentikos in 2016, I didn’t quite understand what kind of path I was starting to journey down. To be quite candid, I began working with Athentikos out of necessity. I needed to fulfil a college internship requirement, and I was running out of time and options. Thanks to the small world we live in, my friend Tina was already connected to Athentikos through its founders, Amelia and Scott Moore. She had gone to Guatemala with their I AM ART program in 2015 and then did a mini art class with some preschoolers at an inner-city school as part of our church summer camp. I loved helping with the mini art class, so the next thing I knew, I was sending a text: Do you think Athentikos would want an intern?
And so, it began. First it was just for a few months for my school and then it turned into two years for my soul. The thing is, I never intended to go to Guatemala. I thought I’d help with social media, write some blogs, fill in wherever I was needed, but not actually GO on a trip. But Amelia can be quite persuasive, and I’m not one to deny an awesome opportunity, even if I am nervous terrified. Thus, I went to Guatemala. Not once, but twice. And then that wasn’t sufficient, so I made my thesis about it too. I researched whether going on a short-term mission trip (like an I AM ART camp in Guatemala) could have an effect on a person’s social awareness and desire for social justice. Long thesis short: It does.
At the time, I didn’t realize the full application of my thesis to my life. All I knew was that after seeing the beauty of mission work in a global context through Athentikos, it was something I wanted to keep as a significant part of my life. Or as my thesis found: a little taste of global mission made me want more. Therefore, when the opportunity arose, I applied for the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and now I’m writing this blog from my home in Mexico, where I am living for a year while I work at a short-term migrant shelter.
What I appreciate most about Athentikos is that it doesn’t fall into the trap of “voluntourism”; there’s no going in uninvited and trying to fix communities by building a church, donating some shoes, converting people, or gawking at impoverished children. As a YAGM ,I learned the term for the style of mission work Athentikos embraces: accompaniment. The I AM ART camps are about creative people visiting communities that invited them in, listening to what that community wants, and helping it develop hope for the future. Building on that, one of the most amazing things about the IAA program is that the Guatemalan translators who have been connected with Athentikos for a few years now. These volunteers make recurring visits to our partner organizations every month. They’re strengthening their own community through their partnership with Athentikos, and helping make the program more than just a week of service.
I offered to write this blog for Athentikos because I know that recruiting for I AM ART trips can be a challenge, and I know that accepting an invitation to participate can be a big leap for many people. Not everyone feels “ready” to visit a foreign country where they don’t speak the dominant language, and a lot of people worry about not being “artistic” enough for art camp (I promise, if I can do it with my lack of artistic skills, anyone can). All of that to say though, it’s worth it. I encourage people to go on an Athentikos I AM ART trip not because you might find yourself becoming a year-long missionary like I did, but because it’s a truly impactful experience. There’s something extraordinarily valuable in crossing boundaries and building relationships.
We’re called by God to accompany one another in this world. It’s not always the easiest or most comfortable thing, but it’s always the right thing. It’s the thing that helps us grow and thrive in a world that is often filled with hatred, division, and misunderstanding. Athentikos is a small, nano nonprofit and the shelter where I work is a community supported initiative. I am not saying that involvement in either of these places is going to change the whole world, but they changed my small part in it. That’s not an opportunity that comes around every single day. That being said… this is your chance. Athentikos has FIVE opportunities to go on a trip this year and you can check out information about those trips here: https://athentikos.com/iamart/. If you’re on the fence about making that leap, reach out! Ask the questions you need to ask and listen to the stories you want to hear about. I know I am happy to talk about my Athentikos experience, and so are many other alumni/volunteers. Just send a message to Athentikos on any of its social media accounts or visit their website for more info. Take the first step. God will light the path and Athentikos will walk with you down it.
There are FIVE I Am Art camps happening in the Summer and Fall of 2019! If you are interested, follow the link below to learn about dates, locations, and more. If you cannot attend a trip but want to support Athentikos’ mission of creativity as healing, you can also donate to our I Am Art program.
This blog was written by Athentikos’ own David Lee, who has been a key player in the development and execution of our Summer 2017 IAA camps at Front Porch Ministry.
As I reflect on the first three domestic I Am Art events and we head into our art show, I am very grateful to be a part of what is happening in Nashville. Front Porch Ministry has been a blessing to partner with and the work that they are doing cannot be understated. The community they serve has a population of kids that have great potential. Thom and Michele are truly investing into these kids with love. Watching the family operate and the relationships they have with the kids there is a beautiful thing. Their work is truly a work of compassion.
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The projects that we have put on so far have brought together local artists and inner city kids. This is opening channels of communication from the far reaches of the county all the way to downtown. The stories I was originally told about the neighborhood we have been working in were somber and detailed a hardened community but as I met more and more people that lived there I saw hope and grace that was being cultivated around the literal front porch of Thom and Michele’s house.
The mural was our first splash into this community and that is exactly what it became. We played water games and painted our way through the heat of Nashville’s June until we completed a 24 foot long mural! We cannot thank local artist Ellie Caudill enough for the time and talent that she invested in the lives of these children and in the beauty of this neighborhood. Our first camp was with a smaller group and consisted of an abstract self portrait workshop led by other local artists, Lauren Dunn and our own Amelia Moore. We were able to focus deeply into individual friendships and develop long lasting relationships. I think that these projects have truly made an impact in the children’s lives and we look forward to displaying these works at the end of the summer.
The conversations that we have around creating these art pieces always explore the theme of how we handle conflict in our lives. Having these conversations in Guatemala for the last three years presented an interesting juxtaposition to the inner city Nashville neighborhood, however, the result remains the same. Grace presents us with the path to ultimately resolve the conflict in our lives and this journey can be done with creativity and community! We just completed our last Nashville I Am Art camp that ran from July 20-22 and we ask that you pray for our Art Show tomorrow on July 28th. The art show is such a pivotal part of our camps as it brings our young artists a sense of pride in their gifts from God. It is the perfect ending to this beautiful story of I AM ART.