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Art Exchange Between Tulsa, Tanzania Creates Something Remarkable

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Forty-two girls, 21 canvasses and 32,000 miles have come together to produce something rather remarkable. Forty-two girls, 21 canvasses and 32,000 miles have come together to produce something rather remarkable.
"We took a basic canvas and I had my girls basically draw on it," said teacher Matt Moffett. "We took a basic canvas and I had my girls basically draw on it," said teacher Matt Moffett.
"I didn't know what to put on it, so I just started with a girl and some trees--kind of like just a scene," said 15-year-old Yori Jones. "I didn't know what to put on it, so I just started with a girl and some trees--kind of like just a scene," said 15-year-old Yori Jones.
Then the 21 young African artists got their first look at what their American "art pal" had sent and then added something of their own. Then the 21 young African artists got their first look at what their American "art pal" had sent and then added something of their own.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Art is a form of communication that can span cultures, language, and even continents, as a group of young Tulsa girls found out first hand this year in a project that took them from Tulsa to Tanzania.

Now they're ready to show off the results.

Forty-two girls, 21 canvasses and 32,000 miles have come together to produce something rather remarkable.

It all started in the studios of the Tulsa Art School for Girls.

"We took a basic canvas and I had my girls basically draw on it," said teacher Matt Moffett.

"I didn't know what to put on it, so I just started with a girl and some trees--kind of like just a scene," said 15-year-old Yori Jones.

Moffett said they put a picture of the students on the back of their creations, along with some information about them, and sent it off to Tanzania, to the orphanage run by the Janada Batchelor Foundation for Children (JBFC). It was founded six years ago by a native Tulsan.

Then the 21 young African artists got their first look at what their American "art pal" had sent and then added something of their own.

JBFC student, Ana

"I add giraffe, tree, butterfly and flowers," said JBFC student Ana Edwards.

Within a month, the canvasses were back in Tulsa, and the girls were seeing their art through a new set of eyes.

"When we got them, the girls were just in awe of what it was, so they did another layer on top of it, kind of like making the art layers more deep," Moffett said.

"I was like, oh, I can play with it. She gave me a different overlook on it. So, it just got better and better as it went along," Jones said.

The notes on the back of the canvases were becoming more elaborate as well, many of them works of art in their own right.

In May, the artwork returned to Tanzania for one more round.

"It's kind of amazing that these pieces of art have traveled 30,000 miles in the last four months," said Ashli Sims, of JBFC.

And then they came back home to tulsa.

"I think its amazing that my 24 girls have gotten to not only learn about Africa, but see what the students are all about, see what they're like," Moffett said. "I think it opens up their minds past the city limits of Tulsa."

The 21 works of art wove a bridge between two continents through color, design and the power of imagination.

"Hopefully we might do another one or something like that," Jones said.

All 21 canvasses are up for sale at The African Circles Art Show, which opens Thursday evening at 5:30 at Tulsa's Circle Cinema Theatre.

Proceeds will be split between the two schools.

More About The JBFC Art Exchange

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