Artist exchanges between Kansas and Paraguay continue to be an essential part of our partnership. Kansas-Paraguay Partners member Judith McCrea submitted this review of a creative and active program during the last year.
An exciting new exchange agreement between Kansas-Paraguay Partners, Comitè Paraguay-Kansas and Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano pairs artists from Kansas with winners of competitions in Paraguay. Kansas’ artists are chosen according to their expertise of the specific medium featured in each Paraguayan competition. The winners are offered a travel grant through Partners of the Americas to Kansas where they work, study, observe classes, workshops, exhibitions, and attend other cultural activities. Here are some highlights from the first round of exchanges between the two Partners:
In June, Amber Hansen, a Lawrence artist and filmmaker, juried a photography exhibition in Paraguay. The winner was not able to travel for personal reasons. However, Teresita Gonzalez, a photographer and social activist, spent a week in Lawrence, courtesy of Royce Smith, art department chair at Wichita State University. In her presentation at the Lawrence Arts Center, Ms. Gonzales presented photographs that document the Hospital de Clinicas in Asuncion before it moved to a more modern facility. She gave a moving tribute to long-standing health care problems and the transformation of the historic hospital into a medical museum.
Eric Conrad, a Lawrence artist and Chair of the Department of Art at Emporia State University, juried a Paraguayan sculpture competition that sponsored the winner, Sergio Jara, to visit Kansas in October. His work in stone is monumental in scale. Sergio was an energetic visitor who contributed to activities in the art departments at Emporia State and Washburn University. He gave a presentation at the K.U. Latin American Studies’ Merienda series and taught a children’s class at the Lawrence Arts Center.
At the same time, well-known Paraguayan independent film producer and arts administrator, Meli Rockford, visited Lawrence. She showed an award winning film, “El Tiempo Nublado”, at the first annual film festival, Lid Off, in Lucas Kansas. Along with many staff and volunteers in both Kansas and Paraguay, Ms. Rockford will be instrumental in guiding future exchanges and spin-off projects.
Judith McCrea, Professor in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Kansas, helped select, via Skype, a painter to visit Kansas this coming fall. In December 2015, an exhibition of McCrea’s paintings titled Pensamientos Pequeños, was shown along with related prose poems at Museo Contemporaneo in Asuncion. Five works were added to the Museum collection that combine views of the artist’s Kansas farm with “monos” and “esquelitos” from travel to Latin American.
Filed under: Partners of the Americas, Cultural Arts | Tagged: Partners of the Americas, Comité Paraguay Kansas, kansas paraguay partners, Amber Hansen, Teresita Gonzalez, Judith McCrea, Eric Conrad, Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano, Sergio Jara, Meli Rockford | Leave a comment »
Charles Stansifer 1930 – 2016
Charles Stansifer and Mary Miller
Charlie Stansifer was a native Kansan with an international perspective and a love for Paraguay. Charlie was born in western Kansas and obtained a bachelors degree from Wichita State University before becoming an expert in the history of Central America. He spent most of this academic career in multiple positions at the University of Kansas.
It is difficult to describe Charlie’s immense impact on Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP). One measure that Charlie might use is that he is mentioned 55 times in the index of Merrill and Boots Raber’s 40-Year History of Kansas-Paraguay Partners.
One of Charlie’s signature achievements was obtaining Kansas Board of Regents and legislative agreement that a limited number of Paraguayan students could attend Kansas universities as in-state students. As a result more than 1,000 Paraguayans have studied in Kansas. Many obtaining degrees and returning to Paraguay to enhance the development of their country.
Charlie started working on the university exchange in 1976 and the agreement was signed shortly thereafter. The Raber history reports that in 1985 there were only 15 Paraguayan students studying in Kansas. Their was a dramatic increase in the 1990s to over 100 students per year. Today the program has expanded to Washburn University and Johnson County Community College and several universities have increased the number of Paraguayan students that they would accept.
Charlie always say Kansas Paraguay Partners as a two way exchange and he worked tirelessly to encourage Kansas students to study in Paraguay. This was a difficult task that bore little fruit. In 2005 he pledged $5000 to support a scholarship fund to support Kansas students to study in Paraguay as well as Paraguayans to study in Kansas. KPP undertook to endow a fund to support Charlie’s vision. Just 10 years later the fund was sufficient to support two $1,500 scholarships each year. One for a Kansas student and one for a Paraguayan.
Charlie did not limit his KPP involvement to educational exchanges. In 1977 our counterpart Comitè Paraguay Kansas was concerned that while several Paraguayan artist had visited Kansas, no Kansas artists had visited Paraguay. Charlie met with staff of the Centro Cultural Paraguayo-Americano in Asuncion to promote and co-sponsor Kansas artists to visit Paraguay. Since then artistic exchanges have been a nearly annual part of the Kansas-Paraguay partnership.
Similarly in 1985 Charlie accompanied Phil Humphrey who was an ornithologist and director of the University of Kansas Natural History Museum to the Paraguayan Chaco. They identified 80 species of birds.
Since history was Charlie’s life he also turned this passion to the stories of KPP and Paraguay. Since KPP is an all volunteer organization with no physical office, it would be easy to loose track of its many accomplishments. Charlie arranged for the Kansas State Historical Society to be the depository for the KPP archives. The archives are available to anyone interested in the history of this great partnership.
Similarly in 1990 visited Paraguay and evaluated the history curriculum at the two major universities as well as the resources of the Paraguay Archives. He found the resources available for historical research to be lacking. Charlie had several important documents regarding Paraguayan history in his extensive personal library. He donated these to the University of Kansas Library to be available to all scholars. They were also copied and provided to Paraguayan scholars.
Finally, Charlie along with Merrill Raber and Alberto Granada of Paraguay arranged a tour of Paraguay and tour of Peru, Paraguay and Chili. Charlie’s history lectures were an essential part of participants understanding of the places visited.
Paraguayan Sculptor Sergio Jara spent a month in Kansas this fall. Upon his return he sent pictures from his visit along with a note.
Sergio said that he was a bit nervous starting his trip to a new country, new people, new experiences and uncertain if his English was good enough. Sergio found friendly people who opened their homes to him. He was thankful for all of the hospitality, comfortable living, interesting exchange of opinions and good practice speaking English that got better and better. He is grateful for the many new friends that he made in Kansas.
Sergio found the art facilities and professors within the Kansas universities and art institutions to be superior and a great help in his artistic training. He valued the ability to be able to choose various activities and found the opportunity to talk with other students and present his work to be extremely valuable.
Sergio particularly wanted to thank Amber Hansen and Nicholas, Judith McCrea, Eric Conrad and Yoonmi, Michael Hager, Fernando Achucarro and family, Ramiro Miranda and family, Lana Messner, Jennifer Baldwin and family, Meli Peña, Peter Haney, Miriam Mongelós and John Poertner and Edith Black and all of those people he met, gave of their time, and knowledge.
Sergio Jara won the sculpture competition sponsored by Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano (CCPA), Comité Paraguay Kansas (CPK) and Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP). Part of his prize was to spend a month in Kansas hosted by KPP artists and supporters. His trip was also supported by Partners of the Americas as part of their education and culture travel grant program. Kansas artists Amber Hansen, Judith McCrea of the University of Kansas, and Eric Conrad of Emporia State University deserve special recognition for all of their efforts to make Sergio’s visit rich and valuable.
Filed under: Contacts in KS and PY, Partners of the Americas, Cultural Arts, Education | Tagged: Partners of the Americas, kpp, CPK, University of Kansas, CCPA, Emporia State University, Sergio Jara, Lawrence Art Center | Leave a comment »
Kansas Connection to Oscar Candidate Featured in Tallgrass Film Festival
The story of Landfill Harmonic has built viral anticipation for this documentary that will be featured at Tallgrass Film Festival. Music inspires hope and accomplishment amid poverty and disaster in a story that continues to unfold.
Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura. This Paraguayan musical group is composed of kids living next to one of South America’s largest landfills. The unlikely orchestra plays music with instruments made entirely out of trash. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. With the guidance of their music director, they must navigate this new world of arenas and sold out concerts. However, when a natural disaster devastates their community, the orchestra provides a source of hope for the town. The film is a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.
Proposed by Paraguay as its candidate for an Oscar nomination, this heart-warming story has connections to Kansas. The Recycled Orchestra sprung from a project supported by Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP). KPP members carried donated instruments to Sounds of the Earth, founded in 2002 by Luis Szarán, Paraguayan orchestra director, composer and musical researcher. Both Sounds of the Earth and Recycled Orchestra serve to build educational and social success in children who have very limited resources.
Landfill Harmonic will be shown on Fri, Oct 16, 3:15 PM at the Orpheum Theatre and on Sun, Oct 18, 1:45 PM at the Garvey Theater 1.
The Kansas Paraguay chapter of Partners of the Americas (Partners) has been active since 1968. Partners connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting friendships. KPP project areas include education, health, cultural arts, emergency preparedness and natural resources.
More details may be found at the following links and contacts.
Landfill Harmonic at the Tallgrass Film Festival
https://kansasparaguaypartners.wordpress.com/ Kansas Paraguay Partners
Tallgrass Film Association
13th annual Tallgrass Film Festival
October 14-18, 2015 in Wichita, Kansas
Sergio Jara won the 7th Annual Young Artists competition sponsored by Centro Culture Paraguayo Americano (CCPA), Comité Paraguay Kansas (CPK) and Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP).
As part of his prize Sergio spent a month in Kansas visiting artists and shared his work in Lawrence, Kansas City, Topeka, and Emporia. HIs travel was supported by POA, KPP and CPK
Eric Conrad a sculptor and Emporia State University professor assisted with the judging of the contest and traveled to Paraguay through a Partners of the Americas (POA) Education and Culture grant. Eric is one of Sergio’s artist hosts along with Judy McCrea and Amber Hansen.
At an early age Sergio knew that he wanted to be a sculptor. It was a natural path since his mother is an artist and his father is an engineer. Sergio’s academic training in sculpture was at the Instituto Superior de Bellas Artes in Asuncion obtaining the title of Professor of Art. This is Sergio’s contest winning work.
Sergio has received international recognition for his work being invited to participate in the 8th International Art and Wine festival (2015) in Tarija, Bolivia. Here is the piece that he created.
In 2014 Sergio was invited to participate in the International Wood Carving Workshop in Sichuan China to celebrate World Wood Day. The artists were shown a pile of roots and asked to select one to make their sculpture.
Prior to Sergio’s work in China he was invited to participate in the 11th World Cultural Art Symposium in South Korea. He was presented with a large piece of granite and asked to create a work. Here is the result.
Filed under: Cultural Arts | Tagged: Partners of the Americas, Comité Paraguay Kansas, kansas paraguay partners, Emporia State University, Eric Conrad, Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano, Sergio Jara | Leave a comment »