Exploring community through Mayan art of kite-making

In Central and South America, kites have long been used as an art-based form of cultural identity and community collaboration that draw on various cultural traditions. This October, Promise had the opportunity to work with the Morgan Conservatory and bring a kite-making activity to the Central Neighborhood.43883

Ajpub’ Garcia, an artist in residence at the Morgan, brings his expertise in Mayan art from his home country of Guatemala. He led a group of more than 30 residents, partners and students in their own kite-making at Friendly Inn Settlement House.

In attendance were representatives from The Morgan Conservatory, Promise Ambassadors, Art Books Cleveland, the Educational Service Center of Northeastern Ohio, Central Girl Scouts, City Year, Inner Visions of Cleveland, Men of Central, Sterling Library and Kings and Queens of Art.

Garcia introduced the group to the origin of the Mayan kite tradition, and he shared images and related poetry from previous kite celebrations. Participants built kites that could fly, as well as ones to hang as decorative artifacts. The collaborating entities shared ideas about how to adapt this borrowed tradition to the interests, needs and concerns of Promise, progressing into a longer-term community-based project.43889

“The activity allows community members to come together and share their neighborhood vision to create a collective art form,” said Promise community engagement coordinator Dawn Glasco. “In this way, we uphold, recognize, and extend conversation to deepen our appreciation of shared values and community unity.”

Some of the kites will go on display at the Outhwaite Community Center and at the Sterling Branch of the Cleveland Public Library. Others will go home with participants.