Village to Village United - Collaborative Summer Program
Summer 2017

Village to Village United (V2V) is a summer program intended to bring together refugee teens living in Elizabeth and teens in South Orange and Maplewood, NJ for dialogue, cultural exchange, friendship and fun. Approximately 40 teens ages 14-18 met for 5 weekly, free-of-charge workshops to collaborate, create, share, and enjoy.

At the first session, the V2V teens explored the Newark Museum with a tour, and enjoyed jazz in the courtyard. The art theme continued in the second session, when the teens collaborated by tracing portraits of each other on clear plastic, then creating realistic and abstract self portraits. In the third session, the teens made their own hand-bound journals, using found materials from nature to paint the pages. We met at the South Mountain Reservation for our fourth session, taking a hike, learning to build a shelter, having a cookout and experimenting with Japanese kumihimo braiding. The fifth and final session included a writing workshop and a closing circle.

V2V wishes to thank teen librarian Emily Witkowski and the entire staff at the Maplewood Memorial Library, Jerry's Art Supply in West Orange, Elizabeth Coordinator Laila Elfane with ICNA Relief, and the many individuals who contributed time and donations to make our program a success!

Maplewood Memorial Library 51 Baker St, Maplewood, NJ will be hosting a reception and exhibit of the work by the V2V teens on Saturday 8/19/17 from 3-4pm.


Week 1: Jazz in the Garden & Newark Museum Tour
Activities included a tour of the museum, during which the teens responded to Louise Nevelson’s large wall-mounted black wood sculpture using white chalk on black paper. The V2V teens were intrigued that the sculpture was made out of found and scrap wood. A live performance by Fiveplay Jazz Quintet concluded the visit.

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Week 2: Exploring Portraits
V2V teens paired up to trace portraits of each other on clear plastic with permanent marker. As well as being a great icebreaker, this activity encouraged observation, perspective, and hand-eye coordination.


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V2V teens participated in making self-portraits, developing an awareness of the symmetry of their own and others’ facial features. They learned that creating self portraits is, at its best, quick, simple, enjoyable and most of all that mistakes in art can be beautiful.

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The Picasso portrait project challenged the teens to explore a cubist conception of facial features, composition, and color use. Rolling the dice to select abstract facial features from a chart, the V2V teens began to have an understanding of how different visual qualities (colors, tones, shapes, lines etc.) can affect the overall mood of a work.

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Week 3: Make Your Own Journal
This week, the teens crafted their own handmade journals. They painted pages with watercolors using objects found outside instead of paintbrushes. The teens then exchanged and shared their designed pages with each other and bound them together to create unique keepsakes and reminders of the friendships they built.

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Week 4: South Mountain Reservation Hike and Tulip Springs Picnic
We met at the South Mountain Reservation for our fourth session, taking a hike, learning to build a shelter, having a cookout and experimenting with Japanese kumihimo braiding.

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© 2014 Samar Hussaini Share on Facebook