A group of students in Guatemala recently completed an art class facilitated by local charity Aldea Maya, and the “visually stunning” paintings will be auctioned off at a fundraiser in Qualicum Beach June 21.
Former school teacher Louise Sosa is the founder of Aldea Maya and it was her idea to bring local artist Cathy Stewart and translator Marilyn Hutson to the middle school in Chukumuk, Guatemal. Aldea Maya opened the school there in 2012. Sosa said she felt it was a good idea to allow the 10 students aged 14 to 17 to take the advanced three-week course in painting.
“It is very difficult to make any money in this area and here’s a chance that they could actually have a career or they could maybe sell some (art) on the side to help pay for them to go to university.”
The fundriaser, called Art and Appies, is taking place at Arrowmsmith Golf and Country Club June 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. From June 15 to June 20 the paintings will be on display at the Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach.
Sosa said before Aldea Maya opened the middle school with grades 7 through 9 in Chukumuk, students weren’t going beyond Grade 6. There are now around 100 students at the school and Aldea raises money locally to pay for all the teachers salaries, textbooks, gym equipment, art supplies and music equipment at the school.
The families in Chukumuk are extremely poor, Sosa explained, and the families barely have enough food to go around. That’s why Aldea Maya has also introduced nutrition and garden projects, among a number of other projects.
Hutson was volunteering as a translator for the art project and said the children were very enthusiastic and dedicated to their studies.
“They just want to grow and improve, they’re really full of energy,” she said.
Hutson has used Spanish in a various jobs throughout the years, including her work with the United Nation’s Refugee Agency in Ottawa. She said that at first the students were a little diffident about what they could accomplish, but towards the end they were painting with confidence. Hutson said both she and Stewart were surprised with the student’s quality of work. Sosa concurred.
“They are amazing,” she said. They are visually stunning and I’m definitely getting one for my house.”
The students who painted the artwork will benefit from the sale of their pieces, and Sosa said they may buy themselves a bed, a bike or some more art supplies. The 10 paintings will be sold in a live auction and there will also be a silent auction with a variety of items that were donated locally, like pottery, jewelry, glasswork and art.
Paintings by local artist Theo Dombrowski featuring village life in Guatemala will also be for sale at the fundriaser and local musicians will be playing the piano and the violin.
Tickets are $20 and the proceeds will go to pay the teachers at the middle school. Get tickets from Our Glass in Parksville and Arbutus Emporium in Qualicum Beach.