A 22-year old Gambian is making hay while the sun shines by helping the less privileged children in some parts of Africa to acquire knowledge through arts. He is currently providing education to less privileged kids of Soshanguve South Secondary School in South Africa.
To the average person, trash is unusable and frowned upon but to Alfajo Jallow, trash can be turned into art, he can turn just about any trash-like object into a reusable and glorified work of art.
Where did you school?
I did my nursery to senior secondary school in The Gambia where I stopped in Grade 11 at Ndow’s Comprehensive Senior Secondary School and moved to the USA in 2010, where I found professional networks that became my wagon to success.
Who inspired you?
I was inspired by an artist called Isha Fofana, she’s the woman, who gave me the opportunity to discover a raw talent which had long been drilled in the palm of my hand. I couldn’t help by then but to gaze at the beautiful paintings that Madam Fofana hung on her walls when I first visited her. At the age of 16, I could not process the possibilities of reaching her level; all I needed in order to initiate a bold move was to hear echoes of her motivational words.
Why did you choose arts?
I believe that African art has been very stagnant for the past century or even more and believes that as an African to rekindle the beautiful art from where I came from, but unerringly believes that African artists should try new things, challenge them while preserving our values and identities.
When did you start painting?
Throughout 2010, I painted intermittently, but once 2011 came knocking on my door, so did opportunities. The painting I once thought was horrible sold at $2000 at one of my earliest exhibitions in New York under the dynamic support of Project Art.
Why transforming disposal to artistic objects?
Because usually, after we finish drinking from a disposable cup or eating from a disposable plate, it likely ends up in the dumpster. But after using a disposable cup or plate, I don’t throw it away. It ends up on my canvas to make beauty out of trash.
So far what have you benefited from arts?
Not much but in 2013, I started an art project that focused on recycling trash around the campus by making paintings out of discarded materials. For the purpose of this project and through my political involvement I was able to secure about $15,000 for this project- “Guttman through the Lens of Art”. The goal of this project was to increase, preserve and exhibit the fundamental values of the community through paintings around the walls of the school campus, documenting ideas that the school seeks to achieve.
Any plans for your country?
Yes, I always wanted to contribute to my native country’s economic, political and social growth. I have graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and I am currently at the Fordham University to pursue a major in International Political Economy because youth and social entrepreneurship is essential to the development of Africa and more importantly to help young people identify their potential while using art as a medium of growth and self-reliance.
Jallow’s dream is to see art not only become a concept just pondered upon in the studio or an art gallery but rather in every aspect of our lives to produce social and political change.
Words by Sise Sawaneh]]>