New Horizons: Art Show Helps Buy Art Supplies for African Students
A rare opportunity to view and purchase paintings of well-known artist Jessie Mackay is being offered to the residents of the Sandhills Saturday, May 17, and Sunday, May 18 -- and for an exceedingly good cause.
Jessie Mackay, whose work is recognized internationally, is hoping to raise funds to buy art supplies for African students she will be teaching during a seven-week trip to Tanzania this summer.
She must furnish art supplies for her 159 students since the school where she will be teaching has only minimal resources. Contacts with the manager of Jerry's Artarama in Raleigh have produced an assurance of a donation of some supplies, and additional donations are being sought locally. However, for items like paper, that are too expensive to ship, Mackay will have to rely on buying those supplies in Africa.
"The exhibition of my work is taking place at the Saint Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Seven Lakes, and the paintings on display are discounted substantially below the prices charged by the galleries which normally handle my work," she says. "Of the 25 paintings being shown, there are a variety of sizes (and prices) as well as different subjects."
The art of Jessie Mackay encompasses landscapes, people, still life subjects, and all kinds of animals. She first started sketching workers on an assembly line in an automobile plant while she was working as a management consultant. Transferring her sketches to paintings at night in her hotel room was the beginning of her later career as a serious artist.
In a recent issue of Architectural Digest, the Washington, D.C., home of Mary Matalin and James Carville, political consultants and commentators, was featured, and several of Jessie Mackay's paintings were on the walls of that home.
"Jessie Stuart Mackay is a panoramic 'joie de vivre,' Mary Matalin comments. "Her colors, subjects, textures and movement make you happy, serene and thoughtful all at once."
Born of British parents, Jessie Mackay grew up in England and Connecticut, and spent her business career in the United States and in England where she had her own company for 16 years. She has traveled widely, and has been to Africa on several occasions -- to Kenya and Namibia, and she joined a group that rode horseback across Malawi to Zambia.
Mackay says that the works that resulted from her African trips have been very well received. The galleries with which she works in Old Town Alexandria in the Washington area and on Nantucket have a discriminating clientele with whom her Africa paintings have proved popular.
In fact, one New York art critic said she "is recognized in the art world as an artist who can go from the most desirable tourist destinations in Europe to the impoverished heart of Africa and capture(s) the colors of both places, as well as the people, with a great deal of sympathy"
"I have wanted to go back to Africa and do volunteer work, and explored the possibilities that are present through my church -- Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Southern Pines -- together with Talmage Bandy, a deacon for pastoral care at the church," Mackay says.
Tally, as she is known, takes up the story at this point.
"Jessie and I are soul-sisters, having traveled together previously and formed a deep and lasting friendship," she says. "In February we were in Richmond, Va., to hear a series of Lenten sermons, and through my former connections with the diocese there, we learned about the work of the Episcopal Church in Tanzania.
"Initially, I was just taking notes for Jessie, but then we each, unbeknownst to the other, contacted a woman who is an ordained priest of the Episcopal Church and a physician living in Tanzania. She offered us volunteer assignments in the same locality. Jessie will be teaching art at the primary level in the public school system, while I will be teaching two courses in pastoral care at a theological college."
Tally Bandy went to Africa for the first time last year. She stayed at a Benedictine monastery in South Africa on their working farm, visited a number of settlements, clinics and schools and was quite shaken by the appalling poverty she witnessed.
"I saw children who were subsisting daily on just one slice of bread and a little coffee to drink," she says. "The journey changed my worldview. It affected my heart deeply."
Neither Mackay nor Bandy has teaching experience in their respective backgrounds, except for a brief stint teaching third grade many years ago for Bandy. Pastoral care has been the focus of her ministry to Emmanuel Episcopal Church for nine years, and she has also served as a lay hospital chaplain for 18 years, so she is translating that experience into formulating lesson plans, and studying teaching techniques in the weeks before the two of them leave for Africa.
"I have never taught an art class," Mackay says, "but I have gotten a lot of advice from friends who have taught art in a number of settings. In addition to teaching the children the fundamentals of drawing and about colors and basic composition, I have gotten some books from the Nasher Museum in Durham to show what American black artists are doing. And when I get to Africa, I'll get some materials on African artists to use as examples."
The two women will be sharing a simple block duplex on the college grounds.
"We will have hot water, because it has just been installed," Mackay says. "I will have to walk back and forth to school, which doesn't present any problem for me."
The city where they will be staying is Dodoma, about 40 kilometers from Dar Es Salaam, the location of the nearest major airport. After the 27-hour flight, they will stay overnight in Dar Es Salaam, and then take a seven-hour bus trip to Dodoma the next day. To take a taxi between the two points would cost a prohibitive $400.
Both Mackay and Bandy will be teaching classes either two or three days a week. In between these times and on the weekends, they hope to work with "Carpenter's Kids," an organization supported by the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
"We don't know exactly what we can do to help, but we will certainly try," says Bandy. "The children being served are Tanzanian HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children, and a shocking statistic indicates that there are 2.5 million such orphans in Tanzania, who live without any visible means of support.
"We are very excited about the opportunities the trip offers for both of us. These are people just like you and me, but they live a far different existence than we do. To have an experience like this is especially humbling."
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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