For many summers, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Camp Tel Yehudah, Young Judaea's Teen Leadership camp. Summer months as a camper were spent mastering the art of kissing with braces, challenging ourselves creatively on how to best raid the boys bunks and learning a thing or two about Zionism, leadership and Jewish identity. I spent these same months as a counselor figuring out how to connect teenagers with art & Judaism. However, one of my favorite parts as an art specialist was preparing for the last night of camp, otherwise known as "Banquet". Banquet is a huge themed night where the typical dining hall is transformed into something special and spectacular... and the entire staff dresses up according to the theme... It's a kind of a big deal.
Last summer my amazing, talented younger sister, Leah Whiteman, was the supervisor for the art program at Camp Tel Yehudah. After 2 weeks, she decided on "Africa" for the 1st session banquet theme. Besides sharing genes, Leah is also a wonderful artist who is currently a senior at the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, and has taken a few fiber arts classes (I swear we have differences!)
Within the theme "Africa" she wanted to focus quite a bit on traditional African kente cloth and African Dutch wax batik prints. Kente Cloth is a type of interwoven silk and cotton fabric, native to the Akan ethnic group of South Ghana. Each color used in the cloth has a different symbolic meaning. They are beautiful pieces with rich traditions and history. African Dutch wax batik prints are patterns printed on one side of fabric using both wax as a repellant of ink in addition to ink and dyes. This is a common but beautiful process in African textiles and the fabric is used on many native garments in the region. Incorporating traditional elements of African textiles added a respectful and authentic touch to the theme while also made it look so cool! I wish I could have a backdrop like this at one of my own parties!
Using camp art materials like butcher paper, tempera paint, cardboard and paper mâché, Leah and her team of art specialists truly transformed the dining hall into a beautiful African paradise!
Check out these panels of replicated fabrics! They managed to create an elephant sculpture and a staff member took on the challenge of dressing up as a giraffe! Disney's "The lion king" played on theTV screens in the background and I'm sure the campers were in awe of the space and had quite a memorable "Banquet".