Europe exploring and updates

I am learning a lot from this trip with my story collecting sculpture. Community based art requires a lot of flexibility. It demands that I keep learning and growing in the places I go.


I am really enjoying using the list of questions that my friends gave me to ask people before I left. They range from “What is your favorite flag?” to “What is wisdom?” and there is something for everyone in there. I have been using those questions and asking people who I spend time with as apposed to setting up the project on the street. Maybe I am getting more shy about walking around asking questions of people. Maybe it is the language difference, but the project flowed differently this time, and the experiences that I have been feeling the most enriched by are longer, slightly more intimate interviews with people I know a little bit. I might travel with a little chair next time, to get people to sit down and take the time to record and reflect and listen.  The sculpture has changed several times, and it is now able to be carried over my shoulder like a giant briefcase, (She is cut off at the waist, and the two heads are attached to the torso with red leather) I like that because I can set it up more easily, when I seem people who might be interested, or when I stay at someone’s house.

            I have only 3 more weeks on this journey. I have been traveling with my friend Megan, and we have spent the last 3 weeks in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Syncronicity and things that feel like fate pull us around and we are spending all of our time laughing. After the complexity of Africa, everything seems to float with ease.  We arrived in the town of Tarifa a couple weeks ago, which is the last stop before the (very short) ferry to Morocco, and I started randomly searching for potters and ceramic artists. The moment I started looking I found a poster for a figurative ceramics class held at the end of this month, for 4 days. I signed up for it and am planning one last act of public art. I am planning to build a figure of a little girl to leave in a phone booth. She will be talking on the phone.  There are so many abandoned phone booths around the world right now, and though it may just last for a day, I am hoping it will stay up longer as a piece of spontaneous public art. I plan to bring it with me to Paris and set it up downtown.

            We are in Portugal right now, and the beautiful old streets and raw cliffs along the coastline are so beautiful that I dream about staying. Then again I have dreamed about living in every place I have been so far…..



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Some photos of finished pieces

I am leaving Africa tomorrow, and am running round like a chicken with its head cut off. I finished 3 large pieces of sculpture, all of which are being sent to the US on a boat from Ghana. The patron of the foundry, Isa, left yesterday with everything on the bus, to the port in Ghana. ImageThere is 250 kilos of bronze all together, and I am really excited about it all, though it has been a bit stressful to work on such a large scale. I am saying goodbye and mentally preparing to be cold and surrounded by expensive food again, though there are things I look forward to as well. I am very american at the end of the day, and I become impatient quickly here. (Quickly being a relative word when everything happens 2 hours to 2 days later then it is was supposed to). I have been dancing most nights to make up for the stressful attempts to organize unflappably patient and unhurried people into getting things done on my timeline. I think it will all work…. and I am excited about the work I have done.



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Art Break Day

Art Break Day

Art break day!
As I have been rushing around with projects, I have been slowly preparing for Art Break Day. Several months ago I applied and was accepted to be a host of the day, by A very cool organization called ArtisMoving. They sent me 500 dollars worth of art supplies which I have been lugging around with me, for this occasion. Today, me and many other hosts set up the art supplies at a table in a public space in different cities around the world. Here in Quaga, I set up the table at my old neighborhood, and within minutes there were kids everywhere, kids I have watched grow up slowly over the past three years. I love Africa, and today was an opportunity to see why. If I had done this project in France, I would be trying to coax people into approaching, but here, there was not space at the table, so some kids brought out a big bench, and then some car tires to sit on, There were adults, and kids, everyone drawing making art. It was really a fun day. The organization asked me to take some testimonials from people, so I recorded a few people explaining why they believe art is important. Most people here don’t write, nor do they speak English, but I have audio recordings in french of people explaining why they think art is important. What an inspiring day!


September 8, 2013 · 1:02 pm

Politics of the foundry

Things are chugging along at the foundry. It is complicated always, because of the social systems here, what I expect and what the “Patrone” of the forge expects in terms of dividing paychecks and labor. I pay well, because by all means I should, considering I can sell things for more then they can. But one of the effects of this is that people fight each other to work for me, which is not good, especially because I am not here for very long, and I don’t want to leave with them angry at each other next month.  It is a learning process.


Today I bought a dead chicken, in search of a wishbone. I am going to cast the wishbone and make necklaces, and everyone was pretty excited about the chicken soup they will make. We shall see how the necklaces go. The charcoal fire that we use to heat the knife for sculpting the wax has a bubbling pot on it as well today, with a chicken inside.


This is a rampant year for malaria. I have never been here when so many people were sick. I haven’t taken malaria prevention medicine for many years, but I am definitely on it now. There is a lot of water everywhere, and 30 percent of the people I know have gotten sick since I came back.


Malic was the best worker at the forge. I left last year with an order out with him. I gave him an advance to buy the bronze, and ordered 500 dollars worth of beautiful bronze whales and fish, that I will try to sell when I get back. I did this order with him because he was the only person who I really trusted to do beautiful work even if I was not there to monitor it. When I came back to find him dead, the pile of work was still with his family.  The work he did for me ended up being his final gift to his family, and I felt good buying the pieces, and handing them 500 dollars, a very big amount here.


I am really trying to learn about the foundry, because pouring bronze for me at home is still usually unsuccessful.  I did the pouring myself for the first two fires, and will continue butting in to do the work, as mostly people want me to sit down and watch when the fire happens.


For the most part things are running smoothly. I feel very at home here.


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Want to buy a horse?

My friend Ali is making this horse. It is very beautiful, and 600.00. If you know someone who might be interested, let me know! It is about 20 inches tall.

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August 25, 2013 · 8:34 am

Made it to Ouagadougou

I am in Africa again. Learning how to move through this place without rigidity. I used to get really angry here, sometimes I still do, but I try to just roll with the differences. I am in a new neighborhood now, but still work at the same foundery. It is a half hour walk, but takes me easily 2 hours, because on the way there are so many people who want to chat. It is the opposite of France. If I didn’t have my audio recording booth set up in France, I could go a whole day without talking to anyone. Here, you must shake hands with everyone, everywhere, share your food with anyone in a ten foot radious, and check in on friends every day. To spend time here, I must submit to it. My western mind is calculating- I should be at the foundery all day every day, I am only here for 6 weeks, but the world here doesn’t allow for the work ethic of there to exist. If it isn’t the incredible importance of socializing, it is the rain, or someone is sick, or not enough mony to buy the right tools, or..or.or.

I am going to rebuild my audio recording sculpture. I am making it into its own suitcase, by covering the back with leather. And making it foldable. The moment I came back, I remembered the intensity of voodoo and magic and fetishes and realized that here, a doll that you listen to and talk to will have a completely different meaning. I will continue the project, but for the most part, without the sculpture. Aaagh, I had thought that this project would be more universal. The idea behind it is, but the presentation needs to be adapted to different environments. I look forward to giving the sculpture to a leather worker and seeing what they can do with it.

A friend from the foundery, Malic, died a few months ago. I am slightly shocked, because he was strong and in his mid thirties. He just got sick and died.

Yesterday, while walking from the foundery to go get lunch, I saw a Tuareg who looked strangely familiar. We both stopped, and I recognized him as a friend from Timbuktu, from 3 years ago. I only knew him for a few days, but was happy to see him. He along with thousands of refugees, had left Timbuktu last year, and had come to Ouaga. There is a very big refugee camp out of town, where some more of his family is. I went to his house, and he told me the story of escaping Timbuktu on donkeys with his family. Some of his friends who hadn’t been able to leave, had been forced to join the rebel army, and are now in prison in Bamako, but he cant call them to find out how they are because they would think he is conspiring with them.

At the foundery, I am learning how to make plaster molds. It is very interesting, and I am working on some new ideas. I look forward to the first firing. The pieces I am working on will be mixed media when they are finished. I have been thinking about the insane diversity of human life on this planet, or in any town anywhere and I am trying to figure out how to portray that. In Ouagadougou or Paris or San Juan Island, if you look at any given street there is a sea of universes within the people walking by. It is the most beautiful thing in the world. We are so different, we are also so similar…



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4 Days in Paris. A choose your own adventure story

I have spent 4 days in Paris, It has been inspiring, amazing and I don’t feel finished yet. I walk and walk and walk. I had a very constructive conversation with a slightly crazy energy worker about my project, who suggested I repaint the sculpture, as it is a little scary. I took the idea seriously, and bought some paint and some gold leaf. ImageImageI added some bright colors to the face, and feel like it is more inviting now. I set it up in 3 different places, in a Park, on the bank of the lovely river, and downtown. All three times left me with very wonderful conversations and a few good recordings as well. While in Africa, I plan to build a new way to carry it as well, as the wheely cart adds weight and takes to long to set up, I want to make it fold up into its own carrying case somehow, a project that I will work on where leather and leatherworkers are both really cheap. If I can, I will stay in Paris when I come home from Africa, for the month of October, because this whole month seems to be a continuous dress rehersal, and I cant wait till it is all running smoothly!

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