It is difficult to say what in Africa surprised me most. Was it the half marathon run in the unimaginable heat of the Sahara, the handicapped in wheelchairs leading the race? Perhaps it was the miracle of water at an oasis deep within the desert. Maybe the staggering beauty of the orange red sun melting into the horizon at sunset. No. None of these. It was the people. It was the women. Not one day passed without a gesture of kindness from the people I met on the street.
“I see you are a stranger, may I offer you water?” “I see you are a stranger, would you like to sit in the shade of this tree?” “I see you are a stranger, shall I walk with you so will find your way?” And most recently, “You are American? I will pray for your country.”
In the USA I paint landscapes. In Africa the people became my landscape; the graceful stature of the women, the flow of robes and the flash of light; the energy and strength of the fishermen and farmers. I took these images home with me.
Africa, The Women, began as a series of watercolor sketches done on the road, under a tree, or in a field. Back in the states I developed the sketches into larger pieces using a mixed medium including oil pastel, paper and paint.
To the people of Zimbabwe, Botswana, DRC, Cameroon, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, I say thank you for your hospitality to this stranger.
For 20 plus years Kathleen Walsh lived, worked and raised a family overseas, eight of those years in Africa. She launched her work a professional artist in 2002.