Kalahari Desert artists to visit Santa Cruz MAH
Santa Cruz resident Peggy Flynn is bringing three native citizens of Botswana to the United States for the first time, and her list of concerns includes indigestion, weather and goats.
âThey looked sad when I told them there were no goats,â she says. âThey might be cold, so I told them I had dresses they could wear. But I realized that they probably didn’t know what a dress was.
The San people are originally from the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, a landlocked country in southern Africa. They are what many call the Bushmen and are hunter-gatherers acclimated to temperatures above 100 degrees. Needless to say, the Santa Cruz marine layer will take some getting used to.
With the help of many others, Flynn brings them here for an art auction at the Museum of Art and History (MAH) on November 10. As part of the Peace Corps, she spent over three years in Botswana with the San people. . She discovered their history and culture, but was particularly touched by their works of art. In their village, there are about 16 artists who work regularly in an art collective. They are untrained and use art as a means of income and to pass on their culture, history and folk tales.
Their work can be described as folk art, although it is by no means typical. Jackals, elephants and zebras dance on a canvas in a stunning overlap of colors and vibrant patterns depicting some of the most beautiful landscapes and animals in the world.
âIt’s a cultural exchange,â she says. “The value of the exchange is that wherever we meet people from a different place, we can meet and hopefully understand each other better.”
Although Flynn planned a plethora of activities including going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Redwoods, she first and foremost brought Botswanan artists (the term for the citizens of Botswana) to Santa Cruz. for the art auction. She plans to sell 15 paintings, 35 prints, three decorated plates and a Botswana safari for two. Several people have tried to force her to sell certain pieces before the auction, including myself, but she will not get it.
This will be the first time that San’s art will be on display in the United States, Flynn said, although some works of art have made a brief appearance on the tail of British Airways planes. At the moment, his main concern is to bring Ndodonyane Ditsheko, Xhoma Simon and Jan John to Santa Cruz. Traveling to Heathrow Airport is a feat in itself, but imagine doing it without understanding English, never having flown, or knowing what a terminal is. The Bushmen speak Setswana, a clicky language, and see more zebras and lions than cars and buses. They will travel on a 17 hour flight to the United States, and Flynn says they are the first Batswana to travel to America.
âI just can’t imagine what they’re going to think when they see the aquarium, when they see the marine life,â she says, adding that they’ve never seen the ocean, let alone what they’ve seen. ‘it contains. âI want to show them our diversity, even in this small place. I want to show them who we are.
The artistic techniques of Batswana are not taught or passed down from generation to generation, and it is mainly the elderly who paint. But once they die, pictorial techniques, heritage and history die with them. With this in mind, Flynn has organized art auctions in Botswana on behalf of the village. After learning that the teenage San pregnancy and abandonment rate is the highest in the country, she planned the Santa Cruz auction to fund a year-long art workshop to support young San and continue the line of painting.
âThe girls will sit with the elders, paint and learn their stories in a supportive environment,â says Flynn. âA nurse will be there and can give them a safe place to talk about their challenges. “
The San people are believed to be the ancestor of humanity, the first Homo sapiens dating back over 30,000 years. But they live in poverty and are often identified by racial and cultural stereotypes perpetrated by commercial media and in films like The gods must be crazy, and based on outdated assumptions and generalizations of African indigenous peoples.
By bringing them here, Flynn hopes to dispel assumptions about them and their way of life, while giving back to her ancestors and the people who welcomed and gave her so much, including her batswana dog, Cocoa Puff, who lives with her in their western home. .
âThese people, even though they are an ancient tribe, are not a stereotypical group living in leather loincloths,â says Flynn. âThe best way to show this is to see the art and meet them. “
The auction will take place at the MAH from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, November 10. Tickets cost $ 50, including food and drink, and are available at the door or online at tinyurl.com/artsaveslives. For more information on the project, visit kalaharisan.org.