Tanzania


This guy I found is now in command of this shoe.

I am attached to little shoes. Children’s feet are hopeful, whimsical, and full of energy. I love these slippers. I particularly love the little black one in the center that is entirely handmade.

I took two of these home. The women in Tanzania have such responsibility; you hardly ever see a women who is unencumbered. I love these batik depictions of womanhood.

This is a little sewing piece from a local artist. I love her work.

The artist who did this did not sell it and the shopkeeper representing him just stuck it behind the shop, outside, exposed to cold, rain, and heat. But when I saw it I asked the owner to sell it to me, and then we restored it and had it put CONTINUE >

Sometimes Kilua makes little one-piece things like this fish.

Kilua makes his art whilst sitting on the sidewalk beside the grocer. While almost every other artist in the area makes one style, Kilua paints on driftwood he finds on the beach, and he paints gorgeous birds and animals in a completely different style. I love Kilua; I love his CONTINUE >

Someone in my compound threw out a wooden star that had a chip in the side. I took it home and embellished it with junk jewelry.

I always find dolls, but these ones keep one another company above my altar. My favorite is the one with the wild hair. One of the most compelling things about the dolls I find here is that they ALWAYS have braids in their hair. Every single doll I find has CONTINUE >

In the small northern city of Arusha, a woman from Holland founded a workshop for disabled artists that thrived for years. Recently it was sold, and has not been as cool a place as the new owners appear to be exploiting the reputation of the place as a legitimate source CONTINUE >

One of the things I dislike about dolls here is that they are all white babies with blonde hair. When a medicine woman made me pregnant on the tiny island of Rota, I became her first white-girl patient. When I gave birth to my boy and brought him back to CONTINUE >

The filthy beach where I collect my perfume bottles is also a great spot to find leftover knobs from the carpenters all over Dar Es Salaam. I started gathering them up years ago. These were all covered in filthy mud, but after lots of baths they are beautiful again.

Arusha, in Tanzania, is far north of the hot, crowded city where we live in Dar Es Salaam. Up there it is delightfully cool, and there are giant forests of eucalyptus that remind me of San Francisco. There is a massive market for local art there, and whilst there is CONTINUE >

I love high heels at the beach. If I find them, I take them home. Then the cowboy below keeps it company with this wooden cup from my family on Guam, half a truck I found in a gutter, a black feather boa from my friend Karen who left us CONTINUE >

This is one of my favorite all-time possessions. I found it on Palm Beach here in Dar. The man who wore it sewed it up with many different kinds of line on numerous occasions. There is a tear on the edge of the shoe that is sewn in fishing line. CONTINUE >

This pregnant, well-hung guy watches us eat in the dining room. He’s supposed to make me marvelously fertile, but since we do not require his services, he just casts his benevolence over us. We love his really, really huge feet and hands.

The guys that make these are pretty relxed guys. I’m not sure how much pot they smoke, but I really love the expressions on the faces they carve. I have these guys hanging down from the ceiling. Sometimes I look at them and see strange stuff through their mouths.

I do not know why they call this a chief’s belt. The Massai do not wear big belts like this one. When you go to the art market in Dar, and it happens only 2 times a year, you have to go very early if you want a shot at CONTINUE >

In Arusha, Tanzania there is a gigantic art market mostly connected to the native Massai people. But when I was there I met the sister of a guy who was making these twiga – giraffe in Kiswahili – from used car parts. I loved them so much I bought every CONTINUE >

Kalua is a Dar street artist who sits beside the expat grocery store in an alley and paints on driftwood. The big Tanzanian painting style is tinga-tinga which is a fliud, bright style that usually depicts the local animals. Kalua’s art is not at all similar to his colleagues’. He CONTINUE >

These come from Wonder Workshop here in Dar, which is a place for disabled people to make art out of found materials. The guy who does these just uses bottles and a kiln. I really love them, and after he died I bought every bead he ever made that was CONTINUE >

I have a very large warthog collection. This little guy was sold on the beach. I have a familial tie to wild boars because they are on my father’s family crest. When you go on safari it’s hard to see these guys because they race off when you drive by. CONTINUE >

I have a strong relationship with the guy who made this. He normally does birds on driftwood. I have a whole flock of his birds. But I love this donkey. I always love donkeys, but I like this blue one very much. The man who does these sits next to CONTINUE >

The cool thing about this Maasai sculpture is that it looks like a Maasai warrior and his wife. The women are regal – so tall, so thin, and so strong, with magnificent beads all over their bodies.

There is a small village many hours from Dar Es Salaam called Lushoto. It sits amid a splendid rain forest. The weather is wet and very chilly at night. We stayed in a cozy little house with a fireplace and road through the jungles in our own car during the CONTINUE >

The Maasai in Tanzania send some of their warriors into town to sell carvings to give money to their family back home. The warriors are on the beaches carrying little carvings and beaded jewelry. Here in Dar the Maasai guard your vehicle wherever you park, as this is actually quite CONTINUE >

I wanted one of these the instant I saw them keeping watch along the road to the beach. I love his sleepy eyes and his hands stuffed into his trousers. He keeps me company as I work.