Thread: Artist residency & Cultural Center
Thread is a residency program and cultural center that allows local and international artists to live and work in Sinthian, a rural village in Tambacounda, the southeastern region of Senegal. It houses two artists’ dwellings, as well as ample indoor and outdoor studio space.
Thread's role as a socio-cultural center is most pronounced in its function as an agricultural hub for Sinthian and the surrounding villages. We provide training, fertile land, and a meeting place for the local and regional community to increase their economic stability. The roof collects and retains rainwater, creating a viable source for the majority of these new agricultural projects during the eight-month dry season.
Thread is a flexible and evolving public space -- venues for celebrations, classes in language and health, and performances and village meetings are just a few of the ways the local population has taken over programming of the community center.
The team behind Thread speaks to its collaborative nature. Its concept and construction were spearheaded by local Sinthian leader and doctor, Dr. Magueye Ba. A Senegalese environmental sustainability expert, Moussa Sene, is its general manager. And its director, Nick Murphy, represents the organization that has made the project possible: The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation through the guidance of its Executive Director, Nicholas Fox Weber. Together we are using art as a means of developing linkages between rural Senegal and other parts of the globe.
Thread posits that art, culture, and architecture should be supported right along side agriculture, education, and health. And that all of these sectors support one another. As such, we are mobilizing the same tenets of inclusion and intersection that made the Bauhaus such a creative success. This is a project about connection and linkage. Between two distinct points, persons, places, or perspectives. To be like thread by forming connections that run through us, and not around us.
A PROJECT OF THE JOSEF AND ANNI ALBERS FOUNDATION
Josef and Anni Albers were two extraordinary artists and human beings, both of them renowned for their work at the Bauhaus School in Germany prior to the closing of that institution in 1933. That year, they moved to the United States, where they would live for the rest of their lives. Anni, primarily a textile artist, was the first in her field to be given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1949, and Josef, a color theorist and painter and teacher, was the first living artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in 1970.
The artistic program for Thread is inspired both by Anni Albers’s belief in the vital value of “starting at zero” and Josef Albers’s lifelong desire “to open eyes.” Anni used to say that “you can go anywhere from anywhere,” and Josef made it a perpetual goal to employ "minimal means for maximum effect.” Those beliefs are fundamental to Thread. Otherwise, there is no fixed artistic program.
Despite this support and involvement in Thread’s program and construction, Thread's most common purpose is as a cultural center and water source for the village; the artists are their guests. Notions of we and they are wonderfully confused at Thread, as we hope too to challenge concepts of the "West", the "developing world," and the institutional and social functions of art.