Objects from Travel: Africa Edition


With so much travel involved in the making of his work, Drew has amassed quite a collection of objects. Take a look at his personal collection of artifacts from Africa as well as how he has fit them into his home life.

At this point in my career I’ve amassed a collection of objects that spans continents, and my home has become an opportunity to showcase and live among them. While looking at the entirety of what I’ve brought back with me, I’ve realized that I’m especially attracted to items steeped in the most ancient and remarkable traditions and cultures. I find that having these here, in a room where my family and I spend time each day, helps remind us of how amazing our world is and what incredible diversity lies beyond the four walls of our home.

Here are a few of my favorites:

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Samburu Spears, Northern Frontier District, Kenya
Spears are an integral method of defense for the Samburu & Rendille people when watching their cattle, goats, or camels, especially since they typically travel miles from home. The spears are called ‘mpere’ (in Samburu) and, coupled with a knife worn at the hip, are the typical weaponry of the warriors. You can see them in my series Warrior Studies: Rendille & Samburu .

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Lip & Ear Plates From the Omo Valley, Ethiopia
The Omo Valley contains incredible instances of rich ornamentation; it is part of traditional life here. I became especially enamored by those that are more foreign to Western displays of self expression, like the lip & ear plates, as a way of showing that personal creative expression is nearly universal. These plates are prominently featured in images like Untitled 47 and Untitled 29 . You can also see a traditional musical instrument in the back, given to me by a member of the Suri tribe.

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Rendille Stool, Kenya
When visiting the Rendille people in the desert of Kenya I spent time with the elders in the village of Bagasi . They are, in a sense, the main ‘government’ within the village community, or ‘goob.’ The elders will sit in front of a home, or ‘minn,’ and discuss any issues and rule on any judgements needed to be made while sitting on this type of stool. The reason they are so close to the ground is because the people want to be on the same ‘level’ as the animals.

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Rendille Silver Bracelets, Northern Frontier District, Kenya
Silver bracelets are coveted items in both Rendille & Samburu cultures. They require a specific set of artisan skills often beyond the capabilities of what can happen in each community, and must be purchased at market or through local trade. These silver bracelets are known in Rendille as ‘lahag.’ Although I purchased a few of them, one was also gifted to me; a woman took one off her own wrist and handed it to me with the instructions of remembering my visit. You can see examples of these bracelets in my image Mindisayo’s Gaze .

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