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Art Education: From Kentucky to Japan

Karen Edwards is an art instructor with Model Laboratory School at Eastern Kentucky University. She is also a part of an educational and cultural tradition that spans decades and continents. In October, 2018, Karen spent two weeks serving as a U.S. ambassador, Madison County representative, and Model Lab School visiting artist in Hokuto City, Japan. In May, Karen hosted Ryuka (Asami Koshiishi), a bamboo flute player and the guest artist from Japan.

Karen Edwards in Japanese fieldThe Madison County International Committee (MCIC) has been involved in the cultural exchange program since 1988. MCIC partners with KEEP – Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project in the sister city/region program that includes community festivals, student homestays and an artist exchange. KEEP was founded in 1938 by native Kentuckian Paul Rusch.

In May of each year, approximately 15 Japanese delegates travel to Madison County to participate in cultural activities, which is reciprocated when Madison County delegates visit Hokuto City in October. An early part of the KEEP mission was to assist Japanese in rural areas in establishing agricultural lifestyles to promote better health, stronger economies, and ultimately, improved relationships between the people in the region and globally.

Representing Model Laboratory School and Eastern Kentucky University along

 with Karen Edwards were former EKU President Dr. Doug Whitlock and his wife, Janet; and current EKU Professor and former visiting artist Dr. Jason Koontz, and his wife Carrie.  As a visiting artist, Mrs. Edwards remained in Japan for an additional five days as a guest of Genki Ueno. During the five-day stay she had an opportunity to teach in Genki’s school. She spoke with the students about the beauty in the natural world and led them in creating a collage using color and texture to build a new image of our world and nature.

Karen Edwards in kimonoKaren Edwards said visiting Japanese schools and working with the students was enriching and rewarding for her as an educator and artist. “I found the exchange program to be an amazing opportunity to explore and share the arts and cultures of different places and people.” As a culminating activity, she will now share her experiences with her students at Model Laboratory School.

Mrs. Edwards said she was honored to be a part of the exchange, and a part of the long-standing tradition of the MCIC’s sister program between Madison County and Hokuto City.

Published on November 08, 2018

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