Waking up from a dream. Not a nightmare! The project MISSION 21 – hand in hand into active participation – (M21) is comparable to such an event. This pilot will soon be completed. We end this program together, with a focus group among the participants, through evaluation with the participating institutions, and management of Education & Art (EDA) Foundation. Personally, and because of my research as a student at the Academy for Counseling and Coaching Suriname, I want to continue to supervise some follow up activities such as at recruitment phase. I have become even more curious, to know what is happening in the brains and behavior of young people and artists through M21. What I also hope for: that other parties choose to use this initiative as a mirror for aesthetic and ethical questioning in Suriname.

MISSION 21 at the National Art Fair 2018

In a dream

In fact, you quickly want to close your eyes again. Not only for reality as it really is, but to continue such a magical experience, the harmonious dream. Is this also the urge of a few participating young people? Or others, who are asking: how to proceed? Some youth already know ways to continue by themselves, and as team. A very talented young man – who chose to continue through painting during this project – and showed a lot of discipline, is Dieter. He have been the first arriving at the workplace every Sunday, despite that he had to come from very far. After a long bus ride, he was walking quite a distance to reach Villa Zapakara, the main location of M21 activities. Imagine him walking in the middle of a hot day, always arriving before 14.00 hrs. Iraida, now living in her own student flat, knows how to proceed. she explains enthusiastically: “Volunteers could be called up to form a permanent group for the M21-caravan. This caravan could be going back to the institutions, to work with teens who have not been chosen at project start. We should create a mini-mission-21 for them.” Apart from the fact that this makes your adrenaline flows even faster, a link has been made: the materials that the widow of Henri “Kiki” de Haas, a Dutch Artist, donates to EDA, can serve this purpose. Iraida also formulated a clear message for peers in various languages. A third example is Ishagi. He mixed the knowledge of colors in his ‘backpack’. The backpack – a present that representatives of the Us Ambassy have given to the youngsters at the beginning of the process – that Ishagi literally have been carrying all the time with him, is also elevated to a metaphor, to carry on the techniques he is gaining during M21 for life. Although he finds painting the best way to express himself, Ishagi has chosen to continue with creative writing during the second half of project. After guidance by Ruth San A Jong and Obed Kanape, he can now excel in writing. For the presentation this versatile young man, who wanted to become a soldier at the beginning of M21, has joined the dance team. Led by Dave Simson, this team dared provide spectators an extraordinarily beautiful show during the final presentation.

MISSION 21 Final Show: “Where youth and artists come together”

Personal power

Participants were challenged, to answer the question ‘Who Am I’ from what they felt. After having tasted four art forms, young people were offered the choice to continue in one form of their preference. They did not have it easy back then. Dieter’s eyes were constantly focused on the dance workshop while working under the guidance of Rinaldo Klas. Ironically enough, in both paintings with which he answered ‘Who Am I’, he has caught eyes. Possibly both art works by Dieter, are confronting during the exhibition ‘where young people and artists come together’. Witnessing this result, probably your question would have been: Do these teens see their future within creativity? Sinswella too, was surprising. While others were in dancing workshop, contributed by Maikel Austen from Artlab.sr, you could suddenly hear who Sinswella is.  Given a hand by Alida Neslo this withdrawn teenage girl, which usually only sat in a corner with her mobile, sounded powerful with singing. During the presentation between November 16 – 18, you would have been confronted obviously. You could see that young people and artists have actively worked together, from their own unique strength. The curator Kurt Nahar succeeded in portraying synergy.

Preparation and production for the final show

Synergy with color

I continue to work with great pleasure too. Focusing on the production, with respect for Kurt’s selection of art works, I start thinking: color is a medium that reflects the power of 1 + 1. “Take for example red and blue, which together transforms into the color purple.” This mirror effect evokes something else in myself. I am quickly continuing to close my eyes for the things that are painful. To be able to continue dreaming. After almost 15 years of practicing the arts professionally, I have answered the question: ‘Am I really an artist?’

Published in newsletter of Suriname America Almuni Association | December 2018