Saturday, November 24, 2007

Opportunity for Expat Artists

Call for Artists

The 10th annual Family in Global Transition (FIGT) conference will present an art exhibition in Houston, Texas, USA on the 6th to 8th March 2008.

For the first time, the FIGT conference is presenting work in all media from expat artists around the world. The presentation will be done on a power point programme and will be running throughout the conference time.

  • The entry is free.

  • Artist may enter no more than 2 pieces of recent artwork reflecting their lives as expatriates.

  • To apply, send by email as jpgs in a range of 1024 x 768 to 2048 x 3072 pixels with no images exceeding 2.5 MB.
    Labelled surname first, then first initial, and the image number (For example DoeJ1, DoeJ2). Within the email also list your full name, contact information, and an image list (title of artwork, medium, dimensions, date of creation).

  • The deadline for applications is January 15, 2008. By this date, email to Natalie Tollenaere

If accepted, a larger version of your images will be requested along with the following information.
  • A short biography (200 words maximum).

  • A comment about the artwork itself.

  • Contacts of the artist (physical address and e-mail address).

FIGT will NOT handle any sale during or after the conference. Delegates are free to contact artists if they want to purchase any art work. If artists make any sale to delegates we would suggest that 20% of the sale would go to FIGT (Pollock funds, see Detail for this will follow.


Selection will be done by Joelle Dietrick, Assistant Professor at Florida State University and Natalie Tollenaere expat artist, engage in accreditation as a life coach and art therapist certification. Confirmation will be sent to the accepted artists.

If you have any questions, please contact Natalie Tollenaere at

Enjoy the journey...
Natalie and Joelle

There are moments in our lives , there are moments in our days, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge. -Robert Henri

Any thoughts from expats in Africa?

Dearest expats who have lived in Africa or have thoughts about self-exile,

I just got an email from New York-based dancer Nora Chipaumire saying that she is interested in collaborating with me during her Florida State University choreographic fellowship. Since some of you lived in Africa for a bit, any thoughts about Nora's work in relationship to mine and your own expat experiences would be helpful. More about her plans during the residency is at

Video clip of her style

I'm thinking flooding the stage with animations of floating figures, white on black, swooping down, something like the one above.

Let me know if you have any ideas.

Having lived in two African countries, Nicola Jane Barratt suggestions are below.


Two (3, 4?) separate trains of thought on this:

1. Last night i watched "Darwin's Nightmare". if you haven't seen
it, check it out. It's basically about how the west rapes Africa of
all her bounty and leaves her starving, homeless and dying of AIDS.
not very uplifting, but they show a local artist in the film called
simply Jonathan - he's just as impoverished as the rest of the people
of Mwanza, Tanzania. Not that people don't buy art, but the buing
power of the people of Mwanza is highly limited - not many tourists
there. There are wealthy locals - someone is definately getting rich
from the Nile Perch industry in Mwanza, the export rose market in
Zambia and Kenya, the gem market in Madagascar. But the money never seems to trickle down to the people - I have been watching it for years. The best explanation i can come up with, is that the wealthy people don't keep their money in-country and they don't seem to be locals. For whatever reason: fear of government confiscation of property, massive taxation, lack of infrastructure, government instability... people transfer the majority of their money to Europe, the US, South Africa - buying houses or other investments - instead of spending the money in the local economy as immigrants to the US and
Europe did and do....... the locals are not "in charge" - why? have the capable ones left? are the locals not educated enough to run things? for whatever reason, there is a small and not growing middle class of black Africans ........ are we taking artists, the same way we take the fish, roses, gold and diamonds ?????????? should we be careful ????

One of the great things about living in Africa is our ability to
purchase high quality original art (which is pretty much impossible
for us in the US or Europe). It isn't cheap here, but it's doable,
even for teachers. which brings up point #2 ...

2. the value that our culture places on different occupations. as a
teacher, i can't afford to live in the US and raise my children
without losing my sanity - hence, my self-imposed exile. our culture
does not value child-rearing enough to allow one-parent to stay home
part-time (unless the other one is a financier and hence, taking part
in the rape of Africa - see point #1), or both parents to work
reasonable hours and have time to be parents. our culture does value
entertainment and art - the very highest paid artists and entertainers
are multi-millionaires....... in Africa, teachers and artists make
similar amounts of money (do they?-or is this my perception?) - they
are valued equally (or is this perception?) is my life possible here
only because I , in turn, am raping the locals? even in my purchasing
of art for "reasonable" prices?

Nora and i have exiled ourselves for the same reason people have
always exiled themselves - opportunity - for financial security,
freedom of expression, freedom to live closer to one's values .......
For some reason, it's often easier to live closer to one's values when
one lives in exile. The locals tend to leave you alone, to live as
you wish - they figure that you are foreign and entitled to your
values, as long as you don't bother them, whilst those who remain "at
home" are pressured into conforming - which, in the US, means
pressured into consumerism: getting the kids the latest electronics,
getting that new car, getting that new coat of paint on the house -
spend, spend, spend .....

i wonder if Nora's topless performance would be seen so positively if
she was white? could she do this in Zim ???? do American's allow and
promote her because she is "primitive" - "that's just how African's
are" ??????? do Africans allow me to walk around braless because i
am vahza, muzungu, foreign, white????????? or do they silently judge
me, despise me but are too polite to say anything?? do i offend or
am i invisible? do i bring more to this impoverished country by
spending 50% of my dollars here (because i have a big family and hire
nannies, buy lots of local products, believe in buying local art) than
i destroy with my flashy wealth, condescending attitude, promotion of
English, promotion of independence, promotion of women's rights
......... aaah questions for the ages....

November 15, 2007 by Nicola Jane Barratt

Hey all,

Sorry it's been a while - had a fabulous time with Amy and Rick last
month. They arrived and flew up to Nosy Be for 4 days, diving with sea
turtles and whale sharks. We met them in Diego Suarez, at the
northern tip of Madagascar. Next morning we hired a Landcruiser and
driver to take us to the Ankarana Special Reserve. This place
consists of spiky eroded limestone towers called Tsingy and an
associated cave system. We climbed the Tsingy and smiled at the
lemurs hopping along ahead of us and the ring-tailed mongoose who was
hoping one of the babies would fall into his mouth. The giant bat
cave was totally "Indiana Jones" - thousands of bats could be seen
with flashlights, their eyes glowing red in the dark. There were
small, medium and large varieties hanging from the ceilings, chirping
constantly and a few flying around our heads. Whilst scrambling
through the passages, the guide warns us not to touch the walls, then
shines his light to show us the wall covered in giant spiders! The
Sakalava people hid in this cave for 2 years when the Merina people
were trying to conquer them (I wouldn't have lasted a day with the
chirping and the wings brushing past my hair and the guano everywhere-
did I mention that there's a crocodile infested river running thru the
cave?). We stopped to pay respects to some of the Sakalava who died
here – there is a pile of skulls and other bones with some coins that
the Sakalava leave who come to visit their ancestors.

We also drove out to a beautiful beach at the Baie of Sakalava. This
is a kite-surfing and windsurfing hotspot. The wind was blowing pretty
hard, but the water was turquoise blue. We were the only ones
strolling along the white sand beach, watching a few lone hopping,
spinning and flying thrill seekers out at the reef break. We wished
Pete Schneider was there to enjoy the wind and waves! We will never
forget Laady, our Malagasy guide, who took great pains to showed us
how untimely, lazy, and charming a Malagasy can be whilst
overcharging, lying and getting lost! The fresh fish, curries and
cold drinks were fabulous.

Halloween was good this year. Tigi won the best costume contest for
his age (a week of paper mache and paint for me), while Jackson won
the pumpkin-carving contest with his depiction of a witch stirring a
cauldron. Jeff's birthday has come and gone – we made a plan with a
local artist to make table tops out of giant ammonites as a

We have been hot on the trail of new jobs – a rollercoaster of
emotions – trying to determine the pros and cons of living in places
we've never visited - lots of letters, phone calls and emails to
exotic locations – Nanjing (China), Dubai, Buenos Aires, Rio de
Janeiro, Caracas, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Moshi (Tanzania), Bangalore,
Tashkent, some place in Spain – questions to ask, questions not to
ask, weighing the opinions of friends, family, colleagues, bloggers,
travel agents, tourists and school administrators - but the winner
this time – taking first place due to the high pay and benefits, great
housing, high academic standards, world class sports facilities,
proximity to beaches and mountains, attention to safety and security
………… and opportunity to witness peace in the making ………. Is KARACHI,

OK – before you start screaming- we have spoken with the Head of UN
Security here who got the scoop from Karachi for us. He says that the
security is tight –movement is resticted often, but everyone is
totally safe, at all times. Because we will be living on-campus with
full use of the resort-like facilities, we aren't worried about
restricted movement. The Director of the school speaks to the US
Embassy Head of Security weekly for updates and implements changes in
routine and safety precautions accordingly. Remember - CNN loves
hype – it sells advertising, but protest marches are the heart and
soul of political change. Also remember that 300 people die every day
in the US in car accidents and this never makes the news. Our US
gov't wants us to believe that life in other countries in incredibly
dangerous compared to life in the US –so you will be happy driving for
3 hours per day, working 80 hours per week - but we must try and
separate actual risk from perceived risk. When people make plans to
mitigate real risk, life is safer than when real risk is ignored.
Quality of life, for us, means a great education for our children,
lots of time with family during the school year and during the
holidays, saving for retirement, healthy and fun options for leisure
time, and a dynamic work environment. Karachi has all this and the
opportunity to live within a 1000 miles of the Taliban!