Published: September 08, 2010
The first thing Kendra Frorup noticed upon arriving in Tanzania was the
stark contrast of dusty and dry winter landscape against the bold and
vibrant colors of the fabrics draping the people.
Next was the
smell of burning bush from local farms. Then were the sounds – rhythmic
conversations in English and Swahili, almost like singing, in the busy
“It was so amazing,” Frorup said. “I’m definitely going back.”
’92, an assistant professor of art, spent three weeks this summer
studying south of the equator on the African continent. Frorup, the
recipient of a 2010 David Delo Research grant, was one of three artists
staying at the Warm Heart Art non-governmental organization, including
Barbara Stubbs ’08. Frorup studied paper making, the local Masai culture
and the sights, sounds and smells of everyday life.
always been interested in the influences of culture on expression,” said
Frorup who grew up in the Bahamas. “This was a chance for me to renew
old ideas and to have a cultural exchange to compare, learn new
technologies and experiment a little bit. Sometimes you get comfortable
in what you do, and I wanted to challenge myself.”
explored papermaking using local materials – mulberry and fig tree bark,
banana leaves, cotton fibers from mills and old clothes, corn husks and
“I experimented with imbedding beads and went to a
junkyard to get discarded materials like wire, which I connected to the
paper,” said Frorup who’d like to offer papermaking as part of her
advanced sculpture class at UT.
The UT artist was struck by the
carts she saw in the streets. Stacked up to an inconceivable level, the
carts were a source of inspiration for Frorup, as was the use of
recycled goods, from metal oil drums turned into cooking utensils to the
way the Masai tribe efficiently constructed their huts.
of my work is on stacking and layering,” she said. “They really
maximized the load in those carts and are very resourceful people. I was
fascinated by how they arranged things and didn’t waste space. I’ll
make an attempt to use that in my work here.”
organizing a presentation for Black History Month at UT and will show
some of her work this month at the Liverpool Biennial in London, the
U.K.’s largest festival of contemporary visual art. While this Tanzanian
experience has had an impact on Frorup’s art, she said it has also
affected her as an individual.
“It was life-changing,” she said.
discovered similarities between African culture and her Bahamian
heritage. The experience also pushed her to examine the excess many
Americans live with and to start considering what is really necessary.
made me think about what we take for granted,” Frorup said. “This
experience has given me the beginning of an understanding of where I’m
from. I have to go back there. There is so much more I want to do.”
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer