Art Resource Traditions: education and community development with indigenous arts

Service Learning

Student, intern and volunteer opportunities for art resource projects

The motto of El Zamorano, the leading agricultural university in Central America, is "Aprender haciendo": Learn by doing. Countless professionals in foreign service, aid agencies, and university faculties had their start as interns or volunteers with study abroad programs, the Peace Corps, and the mission field. Volunteer and service learning opportunities abound in well-funded fields, but to our knowledge there are no such opportunities relative to art resource development, other than through the Latin American Art Resource Project. Another unique feature of LAARP is its association with a painting and sculpture studio, and its interns often combine studio and development work. Academic credit is often available through collaborating colleges and universities.

During the seven years that LAARP maintained a home base in Honduras, it was relatively easy to accommodate interns from the USA, Europe, and other countries, because an infrastructure was in place and projects were constantly in progress. The current priority of the LAARP program is to create a viable platform in the USA from which follow-through projects can be launched to Honduras and other Latin American countries. Plans are underway for group field projects in Honduras, oriented mainly toward helping develop artisan enterprises among the Pech, Miskitos, and Tawahkas of the Bi—sfera R’o Pl‡tano forest conservation area, and among the Gar’funa in the Cayos Cochinos coral reef conservation area. Most of these trips will consist in evaluating the progress of previous projects in combination with follow-through workshops. At this stage, however, the focus of the intern program is on USA-based preparations. At the Swetcharnik home studio in Maryland, interns learn art resource techniques by processing indigenous materials collected in Central America and helping create works of art that demonstrate the beauty of these resources and raise funds to support the program. Interns also help document previous projects, update the art resource website, create displays of materials and methods, mount exhibits, organize informational and fundraising presentations to groups that might help support the program. For more information, please email

section titled "Reality Checks"), service learning remains a tremendously rewarding way to reach beyond one's own culture, learn about the way other people live, and experience the satisfaction of doing some good.