In three days I will be on a plane to Africa. Getting ready has been a little difficult but exciting. I went to Philadelphia to get an expedited passport. Additionally, I had to get a VISA for Sao Tome and Principe. I only had to get one vaccination-my yellow fever shot and I am currently taking anti-malarials. I am all packed and ready to go with a small suitcase full of art supplies, wilderness gear, and a small bag of clothes.
On Friday, my sister will be driving me into New Jersey so that I can meet up with Melissa (another student going on the Unspoiled Africa trip through the Maryland Institute College of Art). From there, we will be driving up to Boston International Airport. We will arrive at Praia in Africa on June 1rst. Then from Praia we will fly to Saö Tomé arriving on June 3rd. In country, I will be staying at the Residential Avenida.
São Tomé and Príncipe have served as a stage for the synthesis of African and European traditions. I wish to explore the intersection of these two cultures through extensive research and on-site exploration of contemporary folk artists, writers, dance, and drama. I intend to focus on the work of visual artist Pascoal Viegas Vilhete Almada Negreiros as well as local craftsmen that combine traditional folk art themes with an abstract expressionist style exhibited at the Francisco Tenreiro Cultural Center and the National Museum. Since poetry in São Tomé and Príncipe is regarded as the most highly developed form of literary expression, I will explore the work of the most noted published poets, Francisco Tenreiro and Alda Graça do Espiritu Santo, as well as Tomas Ribas, a writer of folk tales and short stories. Dance and drama will be investigated through the lens of folklore pageants with particular emphasis on Danço Congo and Tchiloli. Through these explorations, I wish to uncover the manner in which outside influences, primarily those of the Portuguese colonizers, have been assimilated to exemplify the strength of popular imagination to preserve, and not negate, traditional African cultural heritage.