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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Room 13 kicks off in HCMC!

On Sunday, July 24th, at 8:40am, 20 minutes before the official launch of Room 13 Vietnam, an 11 year old Long and his 9 year old sister Ngan arrived at the TBWA office. By 9am, the young artists were all seated and ready for Room 13 Vietnam.

"Ship offshore" by Ngan
The first day of Room 13 Vietnam was pretty organized, quiet, kind of like an art class. You could tell that the young artists were used to being students, being instructed by a teacher, so they were well behaved for the most part. Mr. Vo Binh, the artist in residence gently guided the young artists as they painted and we saw flowers, tigers, ships, a princess and a robot on the canvases on the first day.

Room 13 artists took to the walls of TBWA
Launching Room 13 in Vietnam was, without a doubt, exciting, but I’m more excited for a month, 3 months and 6 months later. What will come out of the young artists then? How will they be expressing themselves through art? How will they change when they see themselves as artists rather than students?

The goal is to encourage the young artists to have ownership of Room 13 Vietnam, to make decisions as to how to run the studio and how to sustain it.

We took a big step forward towards that goal on Sunday.  The amazing process has begun! 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Room 13 opens its doors in Vietnam this month!

Creativity is the color on the canvas, the waves in the ocean. Without creativity, our world would be flat, gray and painfully boring. Without creativity, so much of what exists today wouldn’t exist, like…. a fork! Someone had a creative idea to make a utensil with teeth that can also scoop up food. Solutions that are so familiar to us today had to be solved by someone who approached the problem differently and creatively.

When I think about creativity in my own life, I think about a story from my childhood. One day at the kindergarten I attended, we had an assignment to draw a crow, and a few days later, the parents were invited to the school for one of those “parents get to come watch their kids at school” days. On that day, my parents saw a room filled with pictures of black crows, because crows are, in fact, black. Except for one. My crow was HOT pink, probably because I used to like the color pink or maybe I just felt like drawing with pink that day. Why the hell not? The teacher didn’t say, “draw a BLACK crow”, she said, “draw a crow”.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I have that “creativity” and freedom within me today, now that I’m an adult. I probably care too much about being correct, what something is supposed to look like, sound like, etc. I think kids are damn creative by nature, and it’s a beautiful thing, but where can you find a place today that encourages this type of creativity and freedom? That place certainly didn’t exist in the educational system when I was a kid. Well, in Vietnam, that place is going to be Room 13.

Room 13 kids in Scotland
Room 13 began in Scotland in 1994 as an art studio run by children between the ages of 8-12. It’s not an art class where there is a teacher or an assignment. The children raise the funds to pay an “artist in residence” who is seen as an artist with more experience who can help them and guide them if needed, and to pay for supplies as well. The kids who participate in Room 13 can discuss and create whatever they like.

TBWA got involved with Room 13 in 2004, and has been supporting it by helping launch the program in various countries. Today, you can find Room 13 studios in many countries, including South Africa, India, China, Mexico and Turkey to name a few.

It’ll be interesting to see what the kids in Vietnam will create in Room 13. Will they feel lost without an assignment, or will they feel liberated and enjoy being able to express themselves freely? I certainly want to see a HOT pink crow come out of Room 13 Vietnam and encourage them to continue to tap into their own creativity.