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Unspoiled Africa: Art and Illustration in Sao Tome and Principe

May 31-July 3, 2013

São Tomé and Príncipe, an island nation off of the west coast of Africa, is the unique setting for this  international study program. This tiny Portuguese-speaking country in the Gulf of Guinea is home to large number of native birds and plant life and is one of Africa's most important nesting sites for a diverse range of sea turtles. In addition to its lush natural life, the culture of São Tomé and Príncipe offers a cultural mosaic in its people. A serene tropical paradise, São Tomé and Príncipe receives only about 20 tourists per week. Students on this program will be able to engage with the local population including artists and artisans while also having a chance to enjoy the sleepy fishing villages, the exotic biodiversity jungles, and the old colonial plantations of São Tomé Town.

There is no lack of subject matter for illustration and other  projects in this setting. Working under the guidance of the MICA instructors, students will work outdoors on-site in varying locales as they develop a body of work. Students may draw, paint, create a visual journalism project, an illustrated book project, and other projects. Slide lectures and field trips will complement the days working outdoors. Students will also attend musical performances and see a play that has been staged in São Tomé and Príncipe since the 16th century.

This month-long residency in São Tomé and Príncipe offers 3 studio credits in illustration or general fine arts, with an optional 3 credits in art history or humanistic studies--classes may be taken for undergraduate and graduate credit or audit. The program is open to undergraduate or graduate students (rising sophomores to second-year graduate students), and to lifelong learners at least 18 years of age who have completed at least one year of college study. All students must have a current, valid passport for travel.

This program is open to all majors. 

Program Fees

Airfare is not included in the program fees below, which include all accommodations, all field trips, and some meals:

  • $5,700 includes tuition for 3 undergraduate studio credits in illustration or general fine arts

  • $7,200 includes tuition for 3 undergraduate studio credits in illustration  or general fine arts + 3 undergraduate credits in art history or humanistic studies (as an independent study by special arrangement with the MICA Departments of Art History and Humanistic Studies)

Graduate credit is available to qualified students with the approval of the Program Coordinator at an additional cost of $75 per credit. A limited number of merit and need-based scholarships may be available, contingent on the continued availability of gift and grant funding. To inquire about scholarships or request a detailed itinerary or additional information on this and other MICA programs, contact the MICA Summer Travel Intensives program at: or by phone: 410.225.2219.



Alain Corbel, program coordinator, is faculty in the MICA Illustration Department. Born in France, he studied at the St. Luc Institute in Brussels, Belgium. He lived in Lisbon, Portugal for 11 years, where he worked as a comic artist, illustrator, and story writer for publishers, magazines and newspapers. Alain also created stamps for the Portuguese Post. Since 2000, he has been regularly visiting Guinea Bissau and São Tomé and Príncipe, where he organizes illustration and writing workshops in community-run schools. Between 2000-2002, he traveled around the former Portuguese colonies of Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola, and Mozambique with Portuguese writer, Pedro Rosa Mendes, to create a project about the reality of African life in those countries. This project was promoted by the NGO, ACEP, and concluded with several publications. In 2002, Alain was hailed as the best Portuguese Illustrator for his work on the book, Contos de Macau (Tales from Macao), written by Alice Vieira. Alain has exhibited his work in Europe and published books in France and Portugal.

Shadra Strickland studied design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University and later went on to complete her M.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2009 for her work in her first picturebook, Bird, written by Zetta Elliott. Strickland co-illustrated Our Children Can Soar, winner of a 2010 NAACP Image Award. Shadra is also the illustrator of A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Random House, 2010), written by Renee Watson: a story of four children in New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Publishers Weekly called Strickland's illustrations "quietly powerful," and Booklist said, "In vibrant, mixed-media images, award-winning illustrator Strickland extends the drama, feeling, and individual stories." Her most recent project White Water is the story of courage in the Jim Crow south. Shadra travels the country conducting workshops and sharing her work with children, teachers, and librarians. She currently works and teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.