Nick Murphy, Director
As Thread's Director, Nick has overseen construction and fundraising efforts, while developing the special projects and residency program that began in March, 2014. Nick leads the selection of artists for the residencies, working closely with those chosen to develop a program that will best serve them. With Moussa Sene, Thread's General Manager, he devises the special projects and educational programs to take place in Thread's communal spaces. Based between New York and Senegal, Nick works to develop international attention and collaboration for Thread and the projects associated with it, as well as traveling to Sinthian throughout the year.
Moussa Diogoye Sene, General Manager
Moussa, a Senegalese native, lives on site at Thread and oversees its daily operations. He is the primary contact for all visiting artists during their stay in Sinthian, seeing to their living and creative needs. As a member of the Sinthian community, he is invaluable for artists looking to engage with the local population. In addition to his work with the resident artists, Moussa uses his extensive background in environmental sustainability to teach courses at Thread for the local community, as well as using Thread as a rallying point for community based projects.
Robbie Smith, Director of Agricultural Programs
Working closely with Moussa Sene, Robbie facilitates the organizational structuring and budgets for Thread's agricultural initiatives. Based abroad, a primary focus for Robbie is securing grants for these programs as well as developing partnerships with potential buyers of the products generated at Thread.
Habib Dieye, Coordinator of Agricultural Programs
Habib is a long time Sinthian resident, trained in agroforestry. His projects in this area include the oversight of garden projects around Thread (working directly with the Women's Association), arboriculture, beekeeping etc. on existing sites we support in the villages of Sinthian, Dialico and new sites to come.
Augustin Dioye, Assistant to Coordinator of Agricultural Programs
Residing on premises at Thread, originally from the neighboring village of Koar, Augustin ensures the safety of the facility. But most importantly he works directly with Habib to further the gardening projects around Thread. As a local, and as someone proficient in both Pulaar and French, Augustin assits Moussa with the organization and translation of artists' workshops.
Boubacar Ndiaye, Program Manager and Chauffeur
As a professional driver, Boubacar is tasked with meeting all new residents when they arrive in Dakar and takes them on the journey to Sinthian and throughout its environs during their stay. He is often tasked with assisting Augustin and Habib, along with the Sinthian Women's Association, to ensure the prosperity of Thread's gardens.
Brian Harris, Agricultural and Cultural Coordinator
The newest recruit to Thread's team, Brian is an invaluable asset. Having lived in Senegal for three years working on agricultural projects in other parts of the country, he has come to Sinthian to assist Moussa with the development and implementation of new projects, turning Thread's gardens into a fully functional training space. In addition, he works directly with Nick to facilitate the experiences of the artists from abroad during their residencies, and offers connections to the vibrant but at times circuitous Dakar art scene where he spends half of his time.
Koyo Kouoh, Cultural Programs Consultant
Koyo Kouoh has come on board as a program advisor to Thread. In this capacity she recommends artists for the residency and advises on applicant selection. Kouoh will also be consulting on innovative programming hosted at Thread, outside the realm of artist residencies. She has also offered to act as a resource for artists as they arrive in Dakar, on their way to Sinthian, and as a representative of Thread to the Dakar arts community.
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
As a project of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Thread has only been made possible via the vision and passion of its Executive Director, Nicholas Fox Weber. Below are his words on how he sees Thread fulfilling and extending the mission of the Albers Foundation:
When Josef and Anni Albers, in 1971, created the Foundation that bears their names, they stated its purpose to be "the revelation and evocation of vision through art". As refugees to the United States from Nazi Germany, as a married couple who came from totally different economic and religious backgrounds, and as artists devoted to enhancing the richness of human life through art in all its forms, they regarded the act of creation and the pleasures of seeing as the greatest means to combat hardship in life and to provide balance and hope. By establishing Thread in rural Senegal, the Albers Foundation is honoring Josef and Anni's deepest beliefs. We want to give the people enjoying residencies at Thread--be they painters or writers or any other creative artist--an opportunity to develop their own work further in a beautiful setting removed from many of the pressures they normally encounter. At the same time, we want to provide the people of Sinthian and the surrounding region the opportunity to expand their own creativity and skills, and to enjoy art forms to which they are not otherwise exposed.
Anni Albers often spoke about "starting at zero" as essential in life. Josef often extolled the wonders of experimentation, deeming it more vital to the mere accumulation of information too often emphasized in education. THREAD has been built in accord with these values. The materials of its construction are local, and cost little money; the architect. Toshiko Mori, was well-aware that when Josef Albers arrived at the Bauhaus, in 1920, he was too destitute to afford art supplies, and had to go to the town dump of Weimar to hack up bottle fragments, with an axe, to have the stuff with which to construct assemblages that were vehicles for color. This is the mentality behind Sinthian. The idea, for the people of the village and the region, for the visitors going there from Paris or New York or Tokyo or any other outside location, is that they will be encouraged to experiment, and to know the wonders of art, and everyday life, in new ways. That was the crux of the Alberses' existence, and remains the goal of the Albers Foundation; with Thread we hope to do justice to Anni and Josef's sense of humanity as well as their artistic genius.
Le Korsa is a nimble non-profit organization that empowers dedicated professionals in sub-Saharan Africa to continue their life-altering work.
Working directly with these colleagues in Senegalese communities where it has everyday contact, Le Korsa provides the means for doctors and teachers to excel. It enables young children to attend kindergarten, and it provides vital scholarship funds at the university level. Le Korsa encourages a revival of traditional art forms while introducing different creative approaches. We focus on the well-being of all people, and are devoted to action that is direct and effective.
As Executive Director of the Albers Foundation for over 35 years, Nicholas Fox Weber has allowed the Foundation to honor the vision and artistic philosophy of these two artists, beyond acting solely as an archive of their life and work. In 1995, Nicholas began traveling to Senegal with another non-profit organization and was inspired by the work being done there. In 2005, Weber formed Le Korsa, so as to galvanize his own efforts in the country to support the work of resident doctors, teachers, leaders, and aspiring students to fulfill projects and programs they deemed valuable to their communities.
Le Korsa began working with Dr. Magueye Ba, a doctor who had moved to the rural village of Sinthian to help the community there. Le Korsa supported the running of a medical center, building a kindergarten and teachers’ residences, and more successful agricultural practices. Nicholas and Dr. Ba began discussing what could be done to bring more people to this otherwise isolated area of the world, and to provide further opportunities for artistic expression and creativity in Sinthian.
Allegra Itsoga, the Director of Le Korsa, is an integral member of Thread's team by contributing support and resources from the organization she heads up, as well as her own extensive experience in fund raising and collaborative work in West Africa.
TOSHIKO MORI ARCHITECT (TMA)
The remarkable design of Thread was executed pro bono by Toshiko Mori Architect. It is through the ingenuity of the architects--specifically the project architect, Jordan Mactavish--and their commitment to collaboration with local builders that the building is able to be a part of the Sinthian community rather than an imported project space. Its innovative roof design has transformed it into a source of water for the village. The construction process has focused entirely on using local materials and local expertise and as such is truly a building created by the Sinthian community for themselves. Toshiko Mori has had her own history of work in Senegal, taking groups from Harvard's Graduate School of Design on site visits there since 2009.
Toshiko Mori Architect is known for over thirty years of innovative and influential work in diverse projects. Founded in 1981 and based in New York City, TMA consists of a team of fifteen architects and designers working together to produce an inventive body of work. Their research-based approach to design has been commended in awards, invitations to lectures, and exhibitions around the world. They engage in an architectural practice of material exploration, technological invention, historical and theoretical research, and construction resolution.
TMA has demonstrated inventive approaches to design by exploring new materials and technologies. An integral part of their work involves ecological practices in every project, addressing all levels and components of environmentally conscious design. TMA’s approach balances and combines an optimum use of natural resources; especially when it comes to non-profit organizations. They are conscious of both the building cost and its operations.