Minipicasso in Bulgaria
Knut Nordby, the Norwegian based visual artist and soul manager of the art school Minipicasso in Hamar, Norway, has initiated art workshops for kids and youth in the Pavlikeni region in Bulgaria for over a decade. Knut Nordby is also one of the founders of the Bulgarian foundation that paved the way for what has become the current artist residency in Vishovgrad; ARV.International.
With his brother Erik Nordby, they, together made a goal to establish a foundation dedicated to create an artistic scenery into the region for both young and established, local and international artists. The foundation was established in 2005 as Minipicasso, which still is what the locals like to call ARV.I today. Mainly due to the history of what the artist brothers has contributed with artistically, labor involvement and friendships localy.
In line with Knut Nordby’s practice as a teacher in the discipline of composition, painting and drawing, especially for the age between 6 and 18, a natural choice was made to initiate workshops for kids also in the Pavlikeni region. Under the name Minipicasso, Knut Nordby has held workshops every year at various places such as the cultural house in Vishovgrad, orphanage in Balvan and schools in Pavlikeni; with the sole purpose to teach art, have fun and trigger ways to express oneself.
Kids usually comes to the villages and spend their summertime with their grandparents. Some kids are not that fortunate to have any place to go. Other kids are left with no choice in terms of education or alternatives at all. Then what does art workshops really bring to the table in the midst of these tendencies? One answer points to the positive vibes these workshops create. Although these vibes are taking place in a random and brief manner, they do create reverberations in terms of its durational approach and continuity.
One particular project Knut Nordby initiated was an exchange program for schools in Hamar, Norway and Pavlikeni, Bulgaria. Each student made a painting and a drawing, and as a gesture made an exchange of their artworks in between the schools in Norway and Bulgaria. Without any financial support, especially when thinking of the current spectacle around the EEA grants between Norway and Bulgaria, these small gestures had a grand, honest and intriguing effect. It didn’t need to be brought into a political stage, the project and its apolitical attitude was enough to emancipate the shackles of any reasons why.
Like a mosquito bite we just love to scratch, we ask the question on what impact art has on ourselves and others. Sometimes the sole initiative is enough. That it in fact happened, it pushed, if not a mountain, at least an attitude towards the importance of ones voice and the ways to explore how to express it. Quite a statement in a post-communistic country that seems to find pleasure in scratching that mosquito bite a lot.