UW Student Presents Art Exhibits in South Africa and The Met Through Internship

By Steven Barcus

Children in Wisconsin and South Africa now share a special connection thanks to Shiloah Coley, a journalism major who is also pursuing certificates in art and African-American studies.

Since January, Coley has been participating in the Madison Children’s Museum & Play Africa Internship (MCM-Play Africa), administered through the International Internship program (IIP), a unit of the International Division. Even among international internships, MCM-Play Africa is unique.

Students spend spring and fall semesters interning at the Madison Children’s Museum, where they curate exhibits, plan programming, work with children and parents, and provide other assistance to staff. During the summer, students are on-site in Johannesburg at Play Africa—a South African non-profit dedicated to creating safe and inspiring learning spaces for children. As an intern with Play Africa, students learn the inner workings of an NGO, create and execute exhibits, and interact with children and families.

Shiloah Coley at the Met
Shiloah Coley used her internship with the Madison Children’s Museum and Play Africa to allow kids in Madison and Johannesburg to share their daily lives through art. The success of the project led to it debuting at the Met as well. Coley is a journalism major and a Posse Scholar.

A key element of the experience is developing a project that connects MCM with Play Africa. Coley devised a program that would let kids in Madison and Johannesburg get learn mre about one another through art.

“The idea was for kids to make art about their daily lives,” Coley said. “I wanted the art to be true to their own lived experiences. Their work showed where they live, their family, favorite games, or favorite foods, and they also wrote a little about the drawing, including their name and age.”

Coley brought art from MCM, created during the spring, and displayed it at Play Africa. This fall, she is displaying the art from Play Africa at MCM. The program has been a hit with children in both Madison and Johannesburg, who have been enthusiastic to share their lives with peers around the world.

“Most of the kids were super excited about their artwork being seen by other kids on the other side of the world,” Coley said. “I think the children got to see that there are actually more similarities than differences among them, even though they are on two different continents.”

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Apply by December 7th for the MCM-Play Africa internship in 2019! Visit go.wisc.edu/iip-mcm-playafrica to submit your application.  The selected intern will receive a $2300 scholarship from the African Studies Program and IIP!