Tires Installed Here

by Katharine Reece MFA '12

SLC in Goree

Where might one venture to practice speaking Wolof, learn proper manners for eating yassa (a fresh onion sauce) with your hands, or help make an impromptu art installation out of tires?

Gorée, of course—a tiny island off the coast of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Shepherded by art history teacher Susan Kart, 11 Sarah Lawrence students spent three weeks in May on the island, which was once the center of the African slave trade. Their adventures included the 2012 Dak’Art Biennial, an international exhibition for African art founded in 1992. The students helped curate the work of Doughba Hamilton Caranda-Martin, a Liberian artist based in New York City who is an old friend of Kart’s.

Trevor Wallace ’13 recounted the rise of the impromptu installation on the group’s travel blog. As they were hanging Caranda-Martin’s ink paintings, a student mentioned tires. (Last spring, the group had helped the artist curate a show at the Riverfront Library in Yonkers, and Caranda-Martin displayed his paintings on old tires, calling attention to the reuse of garbage in sub-Saharan Africa and challenging the Western standard of hanging canvases.)

The memory struck Caranda-Martin with sudden inspiration. Twenty tires seemed to appear out of nowhere. He kicked off his shoes and began painting the black rubber, directing the students on how to arrange the tires, sand, and nets. A few hours later, the setting sun cast shadows through the windows, helping to finalize the installation, which he called “Human Cargo.”