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Leonardo’s mystic Reawakened at Rainbow

By Dominic Muwanguzi

Renowned artists Ndema and Xenson take top city school students on journey of self-expression

Jeremy Ufoyuru, the head of the Secondary section of the Art Department of Rainbow International School, recently found a novel way to help his charges tackle crucial career choices.

He did this by showing that although career choice is a big deal, at the end of the day; whether one chooses arts or science, all knowledge is interlinked.

To make this point, Ufoyuru linked up with renowned artists Paul Ndema and Xenson Ssenkaaba.


Over four fun-filled days, from Jan.20 to 24, the artists and secondary level students talked about art and science, painted, did graffiti work, and put up installations.

The students created an exhibit that included abstract paintings of the student’s day to day lifestyle within and outside the school campus; graffiti paintings on hardboard panels and installations made out of plastic debris and found objects like clothes, and polythene bags.  «These images are an impulsive expression of what the students feel and experience in their community. For example, the installations were made from the materials the student brought and they were allowed to experiment as much as possible,» Xenson explained.

«It’s important that the students learn that art is not just about painting and sculpture,» said Henry Mujunga, one of the art teachers at the school.

The centerpiece was a section of the exhibit which sought to explain; through the use of graphic images and literature, the link between art and science.

According to the literature that was pasted on the exhibition panels in this section, the symbiotic relationship between art and science can be seen in the works of the renowned 16th century Italian polymath, Leonardo De Vinci, whose artistic creation were informed by his deep investigations and understanding of math, physics, biology, and other disciplines. Leonardo is, of course, best known for painting the Mona Lisa but all his works studied human anatomy and the movement of light.

Ufoyuru and his colleagues hoped Leonardo’s experience could show the students that although the subjects they study are different, they in fact, are linked.

Ufoyuru believes it is important for students to appreciate that both art and science involve theories, idea and hypothesis that are tested in places where the mind and hand are; in this context, the laboratory for science, and the studio for art.

“This helps them in their choice of career,» he said.  And Rainbow International School could not have chosen a better pair of artists to collaborate with on the project.  Though Xenson and Ndema use different mediums and techniques in their art, their art has a commonality in staying relevant to the community; especially the young people.   So the students could easily relate to Ndema’s pop-art style with its bright palette and motifs like sunglasses. These colorful palette and the sunglasses are emblems of a hip-hop culture the students identify with either through music or fashion.

On the other hand, Xenson’s installation of plastics and synthetic materials was designed to inspire the students to be creative, and appreciate a clean environment for their communities.

The organisers hope that by the time the artists left, the students had been exposed to the value of the many forms of self-expression which, hopefully, will help them emerge as more rounded adults.

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