Israel Uganda Art Academies exchange program

The Israel Uganda Art Academy Exchange Program has been operating since 2018, in partnership with the Bezalel Department of Ceramics and Glass, the Department of Textile Design at Shenkar, and the School of Art at Makerere University (Uganda). The program, established and managed by the African Studies Gallery and CoCuDi Center is supported by Anatta. The program enables an unmediated encounter between students and faculty members on a variety of levels (professional, educational, artistic, cultural and personal), resulting in in-depth dialogue and fruitful cooperation. This includes residency for lecturers and graduate students for a period ranging from one month to one year, intensive courses, workshops, internships for students, and joint academic courses. As of 2020, digital and hybrid courses are held. As part of the program, there are collaborations between other cultural and artistic entities in order to encourage the encounters between the general public and particular artists. Among other things, lectures and workshops were held at the Israel Museum, Beit Binyamini, the New Gallery in Jerusalem, the African Studies Gallery and more.

As part of the program, between 2018-2021, junior faculty members and graduate students at Makerere University came for a one-year stay in the Department of Glass and Ceramics Design at the Bezalel Academy of Art. During the year, they served as teaching assistants, took part in the department's studies, and participated in a joint departmental seminar for Israeli and Ugandan students to adapt production technologies to the existing conditions and materials in Uganda. Thus, the students managed to set up a kiln in the Bezalel courtyard that would allow glass to be melted at a temperature of 1000 degrees. In addition, a collaboration was established with the Department of Chemistry at the Hebrew University in an attempt to find local substitutes for silica production. Among other things, the possibility of producing silica from banana leaves is being examined.

Alongside the participants in the long-term residency program, senior artists, heads of various departments, an artists came to stay every year for a period of one month during which they gave workshops and lectures at Bezalel, the Israel Museum, Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Beit Binyamini and many other places, drawing inspiration for their personal work and teaching methods in Uganda. At the same time, students from Bezalel traveled to Makara University for a two-month internship. The head of the department and the director of the ceramics workshop also traveled to Uganda for two weeks to give a workshop to students at the Makara University School of Art. The COVID-19 years presented the program with new challenges, but in retrospect, these challenges opened up endless possibilities for knowledge sharing and expanding the number of students who benefit from shared learning and mutual acquaintance.

Semester courses that are taught on Zoom from Uganda to Israel and vice versa were opened, as well as courses for joint learning, usually in pairs composed of an Israeli and Ugandan student. This teaching method enabled a deeper study of materials and techniques and greater adaptation to the living environment of the student studying. For example, a course in wood carving was given by Dr. Lilian Namtoba, head of the sculpture department at Makerara, to Bezalel students who were exposed for the first time to work with wood, and a course in theory and art criticism taught by Dr. Eran Erlich, head of the Department of Glass and Ceramics Design at Bezalel, to graduate students at Makerara.

Distance learning has also opened the possibility of collaboration between the Department of Textile Design at Shenkar College and the Department of Fashion and Textiles at Makerere University. It was decided to study about bark a Ugandan traditional material and joint study groups explored this challenging and thought-provoking ecological material. Due to the success of the collaboration, during the current academic year, a fashion designer and research lecturer from Makerere University, specializing in bark textiles, came to Israel for a month-long stay to conduct workshops at Shenkar, in addition to lectures and experiential meetings at Ben-Gurion University, a community center in Jaffa and the Hebrew University's Glocal program.

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