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AFFIRMATIVE ART EXHIBITION

May 10, 2017

Opening on May 16th at 5pm.
Affirmative Art  empowers dreams in East Africa

by Eirik Jarl Trondsen and Sika Foyer

“The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but life without purpose”,by Myles Munroe

Do you know what you are here for? Have you thought about what you would like to become or what you would like to accomplish in the future?

It may sound like a simple question, but the answers may be as baffling as Dr. Myles Munroe’s quotation above. It turns out most of us actually have blurred visions of our lives and our futures while a few others simply do not have any idea whatsoever. Do you know that living without a vision or a goal leads to frustrations and under-achievement? One will most likely fall for whatever comes one’s way and live according to the whims and expectations of other people, families, friends, and of the society in general.

The good news is that there is a way to live our lives with a purpose. We need to have specific goals and visions and identify ways to fulfill these goals/visions. These life visions and goals are also called dreams. The Affirmative Art group has taken it upon themselves to help others discover and empower their life dreams using creative methods. Working under the banner of Affirmative Art, the team is spearheaded by Eirik Jarl Trondsen, the founder and Norwegian aid executive-turned artist/activist. Other team members include Khalid Njowa from Mombasa, and Kiffe Yoweri from Uganda.

Less than a year ago, the mention of the phrase “Affirmative Art” raised eyebrows even among professional artists in Uganda, and for a good reason. The term “Affirmative Art” was hitherto unheard of in the established aesthetic nomenclature. Now,“Affirmative Art” is spreading far and wide to many corners of East Africa as more and more people embrace the idea of opening the latent possibilities within their natural potential and learning how to realize them in a conscious manner. It is also a way to make art directly useful in one’s life, widening the scope of art and making it accessible to all.

Affirmative Art stresses one simple fact of life: we have to know who we are now in order to know who we want to become in the future. Affirmative Art has created a simple procedure that can be used by people of all walks of life regardless of their educational background, social status, and religious affiliation.

The initiation phase of “Affirmative Art “ is based on a triangle exercise. The purpose of the exercise is to identify the 3 cornerstones of who you are and who you are becoming, which include: (1) your supporters, (2) your achievements, and (3) what you love doing, with a self-portrait symbolizing you in your current situation.

The triangle exercise is a personal/individual exercise done in a group and then shared with the group members. As a matter of fact, the sharing aspect is a key essential in all the Affirmative Art steps.

Affirmative Art Steps

Step I – First Awareness

Affirmative Art recommends using the triangle exercise to identify who you currently are, who your supporters are, what your current  achievements are, and what you love doing. The triangle exercise will be discussed in the group to get feedback from the group members. This will lead to the actual Affirmative Art work

Step II – Affirmative Artwork

Draw or paint what you want to have in your life (your dreams). Any material available to use for the drawing and painting is ok, but markers are recommended when working on paper because they are less messy.  Painting on canvas is also permissible but might be messier and less accessible.

Do not let material issues distract you, use whatever is available to you because the creative process is what matters the most.

The artwork should speak loud and clear to you.  It should be a symbol or a description of your dream (dreams).   For some, this may be an abstract drawing; for others, it could be an image of family, friends, a house, nature, and/or a type of profession or education.   It may contain words or a combination of words and images.

Step III – Private Exhibition/Display of the Affirmative Artwork

One other essential step that is useful is to hang the Affirmative artwork in a key place where you spend a lot of time.This could be your bedroom, kitchen or office, etc.This allows you to see it as often as possible and remind yourself about who you are, who you want to become, who your supporters are and your current achievements.  You could also consider using the artwork as a background screen shot/photo on your phone or computer.

Step IV – Action and Alignment

The artwork should give you directions.The next step is to live in alignment with your dreams and purpose as defined in the artwork.  The Action Steps – living in alignment- may include you getting a mentor, asking somebody for help, taking a job in a field related to your dream (paid or as a volunteer), changing your clothes, reconsidering and changing your friends, considering or identifying books you must read.  The Action Steps need to be concrete to bring you closer to your dreams.

Also, part of “living in alignment” that you should not forget is to seek advice from the Affirmative Art Team to stay aligned with your dreams, and rework your artwork (as often as possible) with your group, using the group’s feedback to make your dreams as concrete as possible.

The Affirmative Art Team is constantly on the move empowering dreams through Affirmative Art. To date, the team has held numerous Affirmative Art workshops with thousands of youth in Uganda, including places like Kitgum, Kampala, Mubende, Mitiyana, Fort Portal, Gulu, and Mbale. Several areas in Kenya have been covered as well, including places like Kisumu, Homa Bay, Nakuru, Nairobi, Athi River, Voi, Mombasa and Diani.

The Affirmative Art’s mission is to spread Affirmative Art to the world using every tool at their disposal, including audiovisual and social media. This effort is spearheaded at the A-lab, is the home of Affirmative Art. It is located at Nagenda Academy of Art and Design (NIAAD) along Entebbe road, in Uganda. Here Affirmative Art is taught as a class to create more awareness among students about their vision for their life, and how education is one tool for getting closer to the dream. It is also the base for a number of experimental Affirmative Art projects, like Affirmative clothing “wear your dream” and Affirmative pottery, new style Affirmative paintings etc.

Worthy to mention, Eirik Jarl Trondsen, the founder facilitated several Affirmative Art workshops in USA, where, as a 2015/2016 Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) Fellow, he first introduced the Affirmative Art concept to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. In May 2016,Eirik and a newly formed USA based Affirmative Art team went on a tour from Boston, on the East Coastto Los Angeles, on the West Coast. The US tour engaged and empowered hundreds of individual’s dreams. MIT made a film about the tour, which is available on YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbY35vmghQ8&t=71s

Affirmative Art is an initiative that can proudly be attributed to East Africa and it has the potential to spread to, and be adopted by, the rest of the world as a new movement for the realization of individual and community dreams. Eirik and company has effectively underlined the gist of the British author, John Foster’s adage, which states: “A man without decision of character can never be said to belong to himself… He belongs to whatever can make captive of him.”

 

 

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