In Photos: 2021 ExploreAsia Summer Camps
HOUSTON, August 9, 2021 — More than 75 campers returned to Asia Society Texas Center in its ninth year of ExploreAsia: Culture Camps for Kids to learn about different Asian traditions, art, and culture. Through one virtual session and four in-person sessions, campers explored stop-motion animation, art and social justice, Japanese manga (comics), playwriting, and the animals and myths of various Asian countries. Each week culminated in showcases displaying the breadth and depth of all that the campers had learned.
For the first week of summer, campers joined us virtually to learn Stop-Motion Animation with Writers in the Schools. After morning writing sessions with instructor Dillon Scalzo, campers learned about different Asian philosophies to inspire their creative process. The Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi taught them to embrace imperfections as part of the beauty of nature, while the Chinese traditions of Taoism encouraged campers to be comfortable with their own spontaneity. After spending afternoons creating their own stop-motion films, campers regathered to share feedback on each other’s works. On the final afternoon, families gathered over Zoom to view the campers’ stop-motion films in a celebration of their hard work during the week.
During our Art and Social Justice Camp, instructors Rebecca Becerra and Alyssa Shotwell led campers in mindful discussion about various art movements and figures. Campers visited different Houston-area museums and institutions — including the Holocaust Museum, the Hirsch Library, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and the Houston Museum of African American Culture — to explore different topics of inclusion and social justice. Campers were also visited by artists such as Matt Manalo, Mich Stevenson, and Preston Gaines, who led engaging conversations on their creative processes and roles in the community. Campers also participated in a global fence weaving project in partnership with A Blade of Grass and Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine and created original art pieces to reflect their own thinking on the topics and movements explored through the week. At the closing Art Exhibition, campers presented their finished works with family and friends.
Our most popular camp returned this summer, with instructors Rebecca Becerra, Alyssa Shotwell, and Jennifer Kapral leading our Manga Pop! camp session. Campers studied the origins of manga, the key components to write their own stories, and how manga comics are created, including how to draw and create their own characters, the importance of facial expressions, how to incorporate movement, and the use of speech bubbles and backgrounds in comics. Each day, enriching art activities helped campers further develop their art skills and expand their understanding of comics, as well as learn about the different elements of Japanese culture built into manga and anime, such as cultural norms, school life, and Shintoism. Throughout the week, the up-and-coming young artists created their own manga-style comic that they showed at a camp ComicCon on Friday.
Together with Writers in the Schools, our Playful Playwrights session with instructor Sharon Ferranti guided campers into the world of theater, as groups collaborated to create their own plays. Each day started with a brief introduction to a form of Asian theater, such as Japanese Noh theater, the classic Robam Preah Reach Trop of Cambodia, and the Sword Dances (Gummu) of Korea. Throughout the week, campers learned to develop characters and engaging storylines while practicing how to move and speak on stage. Campers also learned how to work in a team, as each acting troupe was composed of 4-5 campers that performed an original play on the final day for families and peers in the Brown Foundation Performing Arts Theater.
Finally, the summer concluded with an exploration of Animals and Fantastic Beasts of Asia. Each day was dedicated to a different region of Asia, in which campers explored the native animals and mystical creatures in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. Featuring animals like the panda, Komodo dragon, gharial, and the oryx, campers learned about their natural habitats, diets, and ways of living. Campers also created various crafts around the animals and heard enchanting stories of mythical creatures such as the dragon, the legendary bird Minokawa, and the mighty elephant Airavata. At the end-of-camp Safari showcase, campers displayed their creations, including animal habitats, dragon marionettes, and salt dough prints.
Parents' comments included:
"Amazing job! My son wants to do this camp again next year!"
"My daughter loved this camp! I feel like she was able to thrive in a creative and diverse environment."
“This camp was all my son would talk about once he got home. He’s looking forward to coming back next year.”
About Asia Society Texas Center
With 13 locations throughout the world, Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and West. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative, relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach.