About the AAI - American Arts Incubator in SA

Updated: Mar 7

The KZNSA Gallery, in collaboration with ZERO1, U.S. Consulate Durban, and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is pleased to announce the American Arts Incubator in which I am honoured to be partaking in this year, below will provide further insights into the program.


Durban, January 2019 — KZNSA is pleased to announce the launch of American Arts Incubator — South Africa led by artist Ram Devineni. American Arts Incubator (AAI) is a creative exchange program that utilizes community-driven digital and new media art projects to instigate dialogue, build communities, bolster local economies, and further social innovation. Each incubator addresses a relevant social or environmental challenge such as economic equity, youth empowerment, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. In spring 2019, AAI exchanges will occur in Mexico, Nepal, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey.

AAI sends a U.S. artist abroad to collaborate with local communities in each exchange country during a month-long incubator. These creative collaborations transfer skills in art, technology, and entrepreneurship. Through a digital and new media art workshop, they facilitate dialogue and explorations of the social challenge. AAI provides small grants to participants who break into teams to prototype creative projects applying workshop skills to the challenge. Each exchange culminates in an open house that showcases the prototypes and solicits public feedback. After the international incubators are complete, ZERO1 hosts one visiting international participant from each exchange country for 10-day professional development workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area during the summer to further build participant skills.

In Durban, Ram Devineni’s workshops will focus on youth empowerment. Participants will learn the process of creating pop-culture artwork such as comic books, street art, and other formats with added levels of interactivity using augmented reality. The first part of the workshops will focus on determining local social challenges that participants would like to address, and sourcing stories around them using standard documentary methods. Interview stories will then be used to create socially-engaged comic books and street art, which will then be tied together using augmented reality to create an interactive experience.

The above installation image highlights the beautiful work of a team who created an installation which was AR activated and commented on the concerns of the use of drugs by youth.

To the right is an interdisciplinary approach to the work that strongly shines through which our team created during the incubation. We looked into concerns of the concerning amounts of pollution and landfill sites which are near capacity. We created a comic book based on a unique superhero named Nomvula who drove key messaging as a narration of her life story and how change started from within and how her actions to influence the community enabled a more circular economy.

The comic book is displayed in this image to the right.

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