Yoga lovers will help Kenyan students through the Art of Connection | ParkRecord.com

Yoga lovers will help Kenyan students through the Art of Connection

Prospect Gallery visual artist Teshia watches a student from the Oloosinon Primary School in Kenya apply paint to a canvas. Teshia gave art lessons to students when she and Prospect Gallery owners Colby and Sarah Larsen visited the school last year.
Photo by Nate Gunn

Prospect Gallery owners Colby and Sarah Larsen want give the public an opportunity to connect with and help students in Kenya.

The two, who also own Park City Fine Art, will host an all-day yoga fundraiser with the goal of raising funds for art supplies and lessons for kids attending Oloosinon Primary School in Kenya.

Kensington Tours, which sponsors the school, introduced the Larsens to the students.

The Larsens hope the event, called the Art of Connection, will raise funds for the Art Elevated Giving Fund, which they established. They plan to send one of their gallery artists to Kenya to give lessons to students and faculty and distribute the kits.

“That way the teachers can continue giving art classes when we’re gone,” Sarah said. “How awesome would it be to empower the kids to have a real opportunity to make difference in the schools by them doing something they love to do?”

Colby agreed, saying they’re in it for the long haul.

“We have seen so many charities that typically go to Africa and just give handouts, but we want our donation to be more sustainable,” he said. “Our goal is for the classes to be like mentorships that show how they can make money through creating art. We want to provide the kids skills and tools for them to make their own art.”

Art of Connection will start with a 7:50 a.m. check in and welcome on Saturday, March 23, at Prospect Gallery. Yoga classes will start at 8:30 a.m.

The list of teachers includes former freeskiing champion Ashley Battersby and visual artist Lindsey Erin.

“Ashley is the owner of State of Mind, which she opened in Coalville, and Ashley is my sister,” Colby said. “She and Erin will be joined by four other teachers.”

Sarah, who is also a yoga teacher, recruited the instructors for the event.

“We are calling it Art of Connection because yoga is connection with self, mind and body, but it will also connect with community to make a difference in Africa,” she said. “Also, the classes will be held amongst the fine art that is on exhibit at the gallery, and that will connect participants with our artists.”

The schedule will include meditation-based yoga as well as more vigorous forms of practice, she said.

There are two types of tickets available for purchase.

The $70 ticket will give participants access to all yoga classes offered. A $100 VIP ticket will give participants access to the classes, a bag of gifts provided by the event’s sponsors, and access to a workshop during lunch.

Lunch will be provided by Freshies.

In addition to the yoga and workshops, the event will include a silent auction featuring art pieces by at least ten Park City Fine Art artists and other locally donated items, Colby said.

Art of Connection yoga teachers

o Elise Jones, certified yoga therapist and Utah Yoga and Wellness founder
o Ashley Battersby, former Dew Tour Champion, X Games medalist and State of Mind owner
o Bryan Flanders, yoga practitioner
o Lexi Anderson, registered teacher with Next Generation Yoga
o Lindsey Erin, visual artist, certified barre and Les Mills Bodyflow and Spin instructor
o Kacie Ballard, instructor at CorePower Yoga

The auction will start online at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 20, and will run through 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, Sarah said.

All of the money raised from the auction and ticket sales will be given to the Art Elevated Giving Fund that the Larsens set up after visiting Africa last year.

“We had a chance to go to Kenya last year and take one of our artists, Teshia, who gave an art workshop to some students (at Oloosinon), and they way the kids lit up and responded to Teshia was incredible,” she said.

The Larsens looked around and realized the school didn’t have any supplies for art, let alone the basics for school.

“There were 800 students, and they shared one or two whittled-down pencils and notebooks,” Colby said. “It was something like one notebook or pencil for every five students and some of the kids have never used a crayon before.”

With resources that scarce, creating art in school is difficult, Sarah said.

“They do have cultural art and do some beautiful beadworks, but they don’t approach that how other students approach art,” she said. “It’s not done for fun and enjoyment.”

The classes will be basic introductory sessions based on the students’ personalities.

“We don’t want to intrude on their culture by teaching about American artists or European art methods,” Sarah said. “We’ll ask what makes them happy and what their favorite animals are and things like that. It will be more of a creative outlet so the kids can create authentic art.”

While some of the kits will include supplies from the United States, to ease the logistical burden the Larsens are working with their contacts in Kenya to source some of the supplies locally.

“It is mindblowing how many things get lost or stolen after they’ve been shipped out there,” Colby said. “So we’re trying to find items from the area so there is less of a chance for that to happen.”

After deciding to raise money for art supplies, the Larsens came up with a proposal that included the benefits of art education, like problem-solving and development of self-esteem, Sarah said.

“Then we decided to take the mission one step further and came up with the idea to bring back some of the art the students will create back to our galleries and sell them in different fundraisers and auctions,” she said. “All the money raised from those sales and auctions will then go back to the schools.”

Another goal for the Art Elevated Giving Fund is to eventually raise enough money to provide scholarships for secondary education, Sarah said.

“The primary schools are somewhat compensated by the government and goes through seventh grade,” she said. “If a student wants to go to secondary school, they have to pay for it, and it’s pretty expensive, and most people don’t continue on. So we want to be able to provide scholarship money for those who want to continue their education.”


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