Thursday, September 10, 2009

a public affair

Please view the recognition given to this project by way of Nest, a nonprofit organization that empowers female artists and artisans around the world. Thanks Nest!

Now that I am back in the good-ole US of A, I haven't forgotten the spirited and talented people that became my family for the past two years. Through the partnership I built with the local NGO in the realization of this center, I hope to continue to focus on strengthening their programs of fostering cultural and technical exchanges. In time, I hope to create a volunteer exchange program which invites university art students to discover the talents of trades people in West Africa while sharing thier skills and inspirations, fostering discovery, growth and self-promotion of both parties. Please feel free to contact this post if you have any words of wisdom to offer. Unfortunatly this may take time as I need to focus my attention on finding financial security in the real working world. To be continued...

More coming soon on the development of the center.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Les petite arbres

These little saplings spread their branches in joy for the creative center of Adeta

Here you go, the final result of months of hard work and dedication to the idea of installing a place in this community where creative souls can promote themselves. We all need a little shelter to house our true colors we use to paint the world.

Aglame, the president of APAEC and I present to you the new center for creativity. It was through perseverance, patience, and creative solutions that success was discovered.

Even the smallest of Adeta's members were present at the unveiling of possibilities for their future endeavors.

The ribbon cutting ceremony with the traditional chiefs

Frederick, member of the NGO APAEC, presents the function of the center to the community.

A tree was planted to harbor the beautiful birds of a town in Togo

Stay tuned to see what treasures can be found here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

almost there

Here is where the construction lies as the styling crew puts on the final touches.

"Makeup! I need to be ready for my curtain call!"

A couple of the seamstresses in town in front of the exhibition hall that will promote thier trade.

Rallying the troops

When you are faced with motivating an entire community to complete a construction, sometimes you just have to run with it to chase them down. This project has been a month of running around, checking up, convincing participation, programming the work day to day and dealing with all the many obstacles that life and work in Togo throws at you. Perseverance...Patience...and Permanence
I am by no means a passive worker, so as you can see when you can fight the difficulties and kinks in the construction by managing verbally, you tie on the shoes and run with them. Here I am checking on the arrival of the next load of sand needed to finish the plaster work on the interior and exterior. I jumped in to make sure they carried it back to the site in due time. I noticed that whenever I was present, there was more of an effort to get things done. It doesn't hurt to just be there as a reminder that your invested in the project.
The sandmen and I as we go off into the brush to dig up some of mother earth to use for the plaster work.

The carpenter has been working hard on the large door with it's decorative logo that will be placed on the center once the work is complete.

sorry to keep you waiting

Sorry for the delay

I have about 10 posts to upload that run along with the programmings of the construction but due to unforeseen electricity cuts and Internet capacity issues I have been unable to keep on track. Please excuse my tardiness as I finish the reporting on this project.

I will be working in reverse from here and reflect on the second half of the construction in the following posts..but to give you a sneak peak behind who's responsible for the majority of the construction here is a glimpse at the three masons who toiled and slapped on the plaster to get the project completed.

The masons sit inside the finished construction as it waits for its makeup artists to get it ready for its curtain call.

Update: Painting and the installation of the carved door and windows are currently taking place.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 7: Bricklayers Job Done

Wednesday June 3rd 2009
The masons arrived in the light of morning to finish the final layers of bricks above the eave and on the sides to form the gable. I was happy to see them in good spirits and glad to also see that the masonry work will be nearing completion so that we can put our attention on the roof and finishings. Aglame and I assisted in tossing bricks to them as they stood on prefab rafters precariously propped against the building. When there was no longer a need for our assistance we left to visit the carpenter to be updated on the status of the door. We also researched the implementation of the plywood panels to form the roof and tried to decide the fashion in which we wanted to place them.

The other members of the association continued to assist in ways possible. Yankee hand painted some Thank You cards for the donors who contributed to the project and others sat down to discuss the implementation of the exhibition hall and its functions after the inauguration. Once construction is finished we will have more time to turn our full attention to these programs but for now we must deal with the issue at hand...create the space.

Day 7: Seal of Approval

Tuesday June 2nd 2009
Today, the carpenter and others, along with I, went to trace the exhibition halls logo on the large hardwood door sitting in his shop ready for carving. I was asked by the association to design the logo that would be used on the hall as a reminder of my assistance and collaboration in it's creation. I was honored to leave a piece of design work, and had already prepared the sketch of what we used to host the community-wide talent show/spectacle.

Within time, the design was traced on the wood planks and ready for some sculpture work to be done. I was given the seal of approval as my “patron” reviewed the sketch to insure I correctly transferred the design. I aced my exam and we headed back to the site to remove the wood planks which allowed the cement to further cure as the hot African sun beats down.

Removing those planks was no easy feat and I popped in to inspect the process further. The carpenter was upset as he busted both heads off his hammers trying to pry the vises loose. Then there was just the obligatory, collection, and removal of all the nails and wood parts that then needed to be hauled off to their rightful owner. What better way to do it in Africa then, on your head while seated on a taxi-moto. They sure know how to use their heads here in more ways than one thought possible.

Day 6: It Takes Shape

Sunday June 1st 2009

The masons arrived to lay the layer of support “chainage” about the door and window frames. They installed a welded metal bar that would be the support for the final layers of the bricks. Once this was in place, there was a need for wooden planks to create a channel where plaster could fill in the metal frame. Of course in any project you come across those items that you forgot to budget in, luckily on this project this was just one of the few “non prevus” (unforeseen expenses).

We scrambled to find wood planks to support the metal frame where they would fill with cement, and in time found some that could be borrowed and returned with little or no charge. Once all was found they started to fill in the channel and secure the layer so that it can cure. Again, I am lucky to have the support and energy needed to see this project through to the end. It makes me realize that they to want its presence in village.

Day 5: Up Up and Away

Friday May 30th 2009
Since the first day of the actual construction went very well, things then continued to move along at a smooth pace. Luckily, Aglame who is Buddhist, asked that Buddha hold back the rains so as not to disturb the masonry work in the beginning stages. I think it worked because we continued to have calm sunny days and a bit of breeze to cool the sweat and toil of the construction.
The masons continued to raise the walls of the new exhibition hall leaving spaces for the door and windows. There was a brief pause in the day for lunch and a quick "repo" (rest) then they were back up again slapping the mortar against brick. I spent a lot of time at the site assisting in any way I could. Many people passed interested in what was happening. If they already weren't informed of the activity, I explained to them what we were constructing. Excitement rang through in their response to my speech. It only proves it's need in the community and they way in which it will be received and maintained; with care and respect.

Aglame, the president of APAEC, the association who will run the boutique and it's programs, called the carpenter to head out and order the wood for the frame, doors and windows. That way, once the bricks are in place, the carpenter would be able to mount the frames and place the doors and shutters. Luckily, there was wood located near the site and they took it to the local wood shop to split it and start constructing the doors. On the main entrance we had decided to carve the logo into the door. The carpenter agreed that it is possible to sculpt the design in only 5 days, which is enough time to prepare the door for placement.

Day 4: Palm Wine Blessings and Groundbreakings

Thursday May 28th 2009

A bottle of local spirits and a drink to the ancestors blesses the site of the former hall

then they made me do it too...

6 am sharp! The groundbreaking began with a bottle of sodabe and a blessing of the site. Then the construction began as the masons traced the perimiter of the building. This was all done with a tape measure, square, bricks and string. It worked well enough for me. It's funny to see how things pass here. I asked how they were going to determine the position of the building and if they were going to level the site before. Nope, you just slap it down in a position that follows the nearest building, trace out the perimiter and start digging the foundation. And so it passed...they measured 4mx 6m, placed bricks at each corner then used string to make it square and started chipping away at the earth. In time a nice 45mm deep trench was created and then they placed the line again to mark the first layer of the foundation. I was amazed at the speed and ease at which they toiled away under the African sun. In time three layers of bricks outlined the base of the building.

Normally, when a project like this one enters a community, sometimes there are minor flaws thay can escalate into great problems. I feel that I am lucky to have such a wonderful team of community members here to assist in the realization of this project. So "petite a petite" the artisans and trades people of Adeta will "build their nest."