Tuesday, September 27, 2016


If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed;
If in terms of 10 years, plant trees; 
If in terms of 100 years, teach the people.

These words of Confucius are the guiding principles to African architect Francis Kéré's work.  Born in the small town of Gando in Burkina Faso, Kéré was the first of his village to pursue higher education as an architect, and eventually returned to build schools and community buildings in his hometown.  The central facet of everything Kéré does is participation.  In all of his projects, he aims to include the local communities in the process, giving them skills and problem-solving techniques that they can apply to future situations. For his installation Colorscape for the Creative Africa exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kéré used the help of volunteers from local educational institutions to install the large paracord environment.

I visited the museum over the weekend with a dress I made especially for the installation.  After seeing my post online, Kéré invited me to come and meet him, as he was on his way to Philadelphia from Burkina Faso to give a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania.  I was seated amongst the masses in the lecture hall when Kéré noticed my dress and said, "Is it you?!"  We had a wonderful conversation afterward as I told him about Artfully Awear and how his work had inspired me.  For him, it was an example of how his work elicits a response - and, in my case, an entire new work.  For me, he had planted a seed but also taught me a valuable lesson about engaging with a work of art.

Photos by William Sealy.


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