Art is a window to the world, opening sight-lines to people, places, and experiences that exist outside of our daily routines. Students at Anna Julia Cooper School experienced this firsthand in November, when a special guest from the "Mountain Kingdom" of Lesotho visited our classroom with some art from her home country! Reekelitsoe “Rex” Molapo, an accomplished environmental educator and nonprofit leader, took time during her visit to the United States to work with Art for the Journey and the young artists at AJC.
She taught the students a bit about her homeland and showed them a traditional Basotho blanket, used and worn in Lesotho since the early 1800s. The students were quick to identify the blanket’s design (as well as Rex’s accent!) with what they had seen in the blockbuster film Black Panther. (It’s true: the designers at Disney’s Marvel Studios used Basotho blankets and other traditional African textile arts as inspiration for the movie’s costumes, and many of Wakanda’s mountain scenes were filmed in Lesotho itself.)
With Rex’s help and encouragement, the elementary students learned about symbolism and explored the traditional symbols featured in the blanket. Each artist then crafted their own blanket design, incorporating Basotho imagery — the shield, spiral aloe plant, corn cob, and Mokorotlo hat — along with their own symbols for courage, love, pride, strength, and beauty.
We were delighted to have Rex in the art room with us, and know that her lesson about Lesotho will stay with the students at AJC for years to come!
~ Lauren Paullin, Director of Youth Programs