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Revisiting the Life and Art of Dan Eldon

By Nora Graham
18-Feb-14
Revisiting the Life and Art of Dan Eldon


One IST student’s Artist Trading Card, incorporating Dan Eldon’s mixed media and layering style (photo: IST).
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Every year Grade 10 art students at the International School of Tanganyika (IST, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) study the life and artwork of Dan Eldon, and they consider the question: How does an artist communicate significant aspects of his or her personal character through the art-making process?
Students complete their research, and begin the art-making stage. Each student creates a “book” (using creative format) with approximately ten pages representing personal aspects and character traits, while incorporating elements of art, design, and inspiration from Dan Eldon’s techniques.
Dan Eldon led a short but remarkable life. He graduated from the International School of Kenya (ISK) in Nairobi, in 1988. Mr. Eldon started making his mixed media journals when he was 14 years old for a school assignment, and he never stopped. Tragically, he was killed by a mob while on assignment as a photojournalist in Somalia in 1993.
The journals give insight to his life, philosophy, perspective and passions. He was involved in his community and did what he could to help, wherever needed. His life at ISK was not so unlike the lives our Grade 10 IST students, and many drew striking conclusions about personal connections with the artist. Here are some comments from student research:
“Dan Eldon and I have a few things in common; we both love art and photography (especially collages) and we both are adventurous.”
“I feel as though I connect with him because I live in Africa just as he did. I really like the way his journals are a journey of his life; everything he experienced in his whole life is in his journals.”
“Here in Tanzania, at IST it is normal to have many different people of different cultures, who have different skin colors and speak different languages. I feel normal here, I feel like I fit in. However, when I go back to Germany, I often experience the same struggles as Mr. Eldon: I am not used to being just the same as everyone else. I feel I lost what makes me stand out when I am here in Tanzania.”
“What I really find interesting about Dan Eldon was his use of mixed media in his journals, since the media helped strengthen the emotions and atmosphere he was trying to convey. I also really like the variety of his journal pages, and how each one tells a different story even though they are part of one life. Most important of all, is that with his journals and photography he was able to communicate his emotions.”
“In my opinion, Dan’s work gave viewers his memories, the good and the bad. Dan Eldon had a vivid imagination, inspiring others. His ‘legacy’ seems to continue to grow in the world through his ‘spirit of creative activism..’”
“When I went on the website, I felt how he felt. When I saw all of the different art works and photographs, I felt I could see what he did.”
Our students have used his work as an inspiration for their own, and the Grade 10 class is involved in an Artist Trading Card (ATC) exchange with a class at Adams High School in Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA. Both classes (Tanzania and Michigan) are looking at Dan Eldon’s work and have created ATCs using his mixed media, layering approach.
Visit http://www.daneldon.org, and also http://studentatc.com.
Ms. Graham is Secondary School Visual Arts Teacher at International School of Tanganyika.




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Comments

02/25/2014 - Mattie
I remember Dan. He was a great and a very kind person. I knew him when he was a student at ISK.

I am happy that he is being remembered in such an inspirational manner. I am sure his family really appreciates what you are doing with his work.

Mattie Boyce

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