January 2016: Shintoshin Art Education Project
In January of 2016, the Public Service Artists Guild traveled to Cambodia funding its first overseas project; bringing art education to the Shintoshin Elementary School in rural Cambodia. PSAG members Nicole Lytle, Christine Gleisner, and Thomas Gleisner served as visiting teaching artists; teaching lessons, donating educational supplies, and painting a mural on the school's exterior.
The Shintoshin Elementary School is located in Rovieng, Preah Vihear, Cambodia. Preah Vihear has been identified by the Cambodian government as the poorest region in the country sustained primarily by subsistence rice farming. A large percentage of students are only able to attend school part time, and most cannot afford to attend school through to high school graduation. Art education in rural Cambodia is virtually non-existent and most students never get the opportunity to experience an art class at school.
The importance of supporting art and culture in Cambodia has a profound sense of gravity in light of Cambodia’s history over the past 50 years. Cambodia has experienced perhaps the most brutal leadership regime of the 20th century, the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge outlawed virtually all forms of art, religion, and public education; punishable by death in a genocide that wiped out 25% of the entire population. Thus Cambodia experienced a complete obliteration of all cultural legacies during this time with all torch bearers to these traditions being killed. Cambodia is now on the long road of rediscovering its strong cultural identity which was once the center of civilization in Southeast Asia.
The Public Service Artist’s Guild art education project centered around the painting of a mural depicting traditional Apsara dancers on the school's exterior. The design was created by Thomas Gleisner in consultation with school staff and approval from the Ministry of Education. The mural was executed by Thomas Gleisner, Nicole Lytle, and Shintoshin students over a 2 week period. Logistic support for the project was provided by Chris Gleisner as well as Ty Neau and Sodany Soeur with World Assistance for Cambodia.
In addition to painting the apsara mural, the PSAG’s Shintoshin project also included instruction in art and the donation of essential supplies to the school. These supplies included a wide variety of art materials, as well as basic necessities such as blankets, vitamins, and bicycles. The PSAG Shintoshin art education project is a small part of an ongoing relationship with the Shintoshin School which provides essential ongoing support for both the school and the community.
PSAG hosts a public service residency in Rovieng providing artists with the opportunity to live, teach, and produce art in one of the most welcoming and supportive environments imaginable. Interested artists should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.