I’m taking a unique journey of a lifetime. I am going to Gorée Island and there I will stay for a little while. This is about the last thing I imagined doing at the end of this year. But then, everything about this year is about the last thing I could have imagined. Thus when this opportunity so boldly and clearly presented itself and the usual noise of my busy life couldn’t cloud my vision, I patiently stood still in my resistance, then stepped into my courage and said yes.
Gorée Island, just off the coast of Senegal, was once the hub of the inconceivably evil West African slave trade. By contrast, it is now an incomparably magical, artistic, vibrant, and joyful place. This contrast is no coincidence. It is an intentional collective manifestation by the residents of Gorée throughout generations, determined to represent this monumental island as the world hub of humanity, which they demonstrate in every action and interaction, and especially through art. Each day is an acknowledgement of the evil that took place, with daily actions and expressions to demonstrate it is nevermore. As ambassadors of peace and humanity, they bring others into the light, healing the residual fragments of trauma that lie within our consciousness.
My first visit to Gorée Island was just over 20 years ago, an emotionally charged experience that culminated in sleeping in one of the underground dungeons, which I spent months writing about as a way to process, but never published. Since then I have witnessed the changes of this island toward more commercial and institutional as Senegal develops, leaving the traditional resident artists more vulnerable. Last summer a call for help came to me. One of the leaders of the Gorée artist community was on the verge of losing the lease on his modest gallery space. With no visitors permitted throughout more than seven months due to the pandemic, his income was eliminated. And so I launched a small fundraiser to help him save his livelihood and help others in his community, and to preserve the unique and extraordinary enlightenment they offer to visitors from around the world. My profound thanks to all who contributed! 🤍
The process of coordinating this fundraiser and writing about it reawakened my connections and opened the door to this journey I now embark on, a personalized residency organically created somehow through my life path. This will be an immersion of sharing and exchange. I will grow my language and communication skills in French and Wolof. I will learn the ways of transmitting peace through a smile. I will learn how to cook in new ways. I will learn much more about world history and culture. I will be available to offer what I know to whoever seeks it. And I will dance with the sea!