The Lotus Blossoms Program is a way to introduce arts and global cultures to the community, Outreach Director for Lotus Education & Arts Foundation Loraine Martin said.
“It’s a way to connect to people and learn about people who are different from ourselves,” Martin said. “It is important to learn about how we are the same and how we are different and celebrate our diversity.”
Lotus Blossoms is the premier youth-focused arts education outreach program of the Lotus foundation, Martin said.
The program teaches K-12 students, their families and other members of the community about international art.
The program runs from March 21 to April 8.
Martin said there are two main parts of Lotus Blossoms.
One part is a residency program featuring artists from around the world, which involves school visits and workshops.
Another part of the program is the 21st annual Lotus Blossoms World Bazaar.
The World Bazaar at Binford Elementary School has a school day on April 1, which is only open to 4th grade students in the area, and a family day, which is free and open to the public.
The World Bazaar is a multicultural event featuring interactive activities with arts, music, language and crafts.
“It’s a way to explore the world through hands-on activities,” Martin said.
The first residency is with Kim and Reggie Harris, who are musicians and storytellers who perform African-American spirituals, freedom songs and original folk music.
According to the Lotus press release, “they sing of life, love, the quest for freedom, environment and community.”
Other artists who are doing a residency for Lotus Blossoms include Seán Cleland and Jackie Moran from the Irish Music School of Chicago.
Cleland is an Irish fiddle player and the founder of the Irish Music School, and Moran plays an Irish drum called the bodhrán.
Guests from Bloomington’s Ryan Academy of Irish Dance will join them in dance during their concerts.
The final residency is with Kuniko Yamamoto, a Japanese storyteller and origami artist.
Yamamoto uses traditional Japanese music, dance and origami in her storytelling. She also adds a “touch of magic” to her performances that produces “an artistic expression of illusion and reality,” according to the release.
Kenyan singers and Jacobs School of Music students Sylvester Makobi and Moses Kisilili Mayabilo will perform at the World Bazaar’s school day.
Lotus Blossoms is mainly focused on students, but many of the performances are for all ages, Martin said.
For example, a performance by Cleland and Moran on Thursday at the American Legion Post 18 is meant for veterans, active-duty members and their families.
Lotus Blossoms is not restricted to Bloomington. Martin said this year’s program reaches out to four counties other than Monroe, including Morgan, Lawrence, Bartholomew and Greene.
“We are bringing Lotus Blossoms to people who might not usually get to experience it,” Martin said. “We are getting these students the opportunity to learn and engage with the arts.”