Dzaleka Art Project: Arts in a Refugee Camp in Malawi

Dzaleka Art Project: Arts in a Refugee Camp in Malawi
Visual Arts team leader and Congolese painter Serge Kasongo exhibiting his art in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.

Dr. Lisa Gilman, Professor of Folklore and English at George Mason University and IIR Faculty Affiliate, has released the Dzaleka Art Project website. The art project is a community-based collaborative project by and about the arts and artists living as refugees in the Dzaleka camp in Malawi.

Dr. Gilman has been doing work in Malawi since 1995. As part of a new global research project on arts initiatives by refugees for refugees, she attended the Tumaini Festival inside the Dzaleka camp in November 2021 and stayed with a family as part of the Festival's homestay program. She explains: "Attending the festival, spending time with Divine's family, and getting to know so many camp residents who are artists was transformative." Motivated by this experience, Dr. Gilman, young artists living in the camp, and graduate and undergraduate students at George Mason University have worked together to compile and now release the Dzaleka Art Project website. The camp residents documented arts and artists living in the camp, and the Mason students, funded through Mason's OSCAR program, worked together to produce the website and a book manuscript. In fact, the Mason undergraduate who built the website, Solomon Tejan Kanu, immigrated to the United States - as a refugee.

Lisa Gilman with team in the Dzaleka camp in August 2022.

Credit: Photo by Deborah Ntakirutimanan

The website highlights:

We invite you to visit the website, read more about the projectmeet the team, and share with those who might be interested!

Mason undergraduate student team - Solomon Tejan Kanu, Audrie Bernard, and Brendan West - holding paintings sent to them by Serge Kasongo.

Credit: Photo by Emma McLeary Bussard