Eleven Days & Counting. The Residency. The Architect. The Inspirations Behind It

Originally posted in August 2019 as Ryan was getting ready to embark on his 30 day residency at Thread, in Sinthian, Senegal, thanks to the Josef + Anni Albers Foundation

Eleven Days & Counting
Senegal, West Africa 

In eleven days Ryan will hop on a plane and head to Dakar in Senegal. Upon arrival, he will be greeted by the staff from the residency and the one other artist in residence for September, Tanja Kirst. Together they will begin a seven-hour journey to Thread. 

Thread, an artists residency program and cultural center, conceived and funded by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in collaboration with a local leader in Sinthian, is a place for the locals to gather and a space for artists to create. Designed by Acclaimed New York-based architect Toshiko Mori, it houses two artists’ dwellings, as well as ample indoor and outdoor studio space. 

                                                 COPYRIGHT Iwan Baan

The Lives That Inspired The Residency
Josef and Anni Albers 

Nicholas Fox Weber, Director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation comments on the ethos of THREAD, “When Josef and Anni Albers created the Foundation that bears their names, they stated its purpose to be "the revelation and evocation of vision through art". They regarded the act of creation and the pleasures of seeing as the greatest means to combat hardship and provide balance and hope. 

Josef and Anni Albers were two extraordinary artists and human beings, both of them renowned for their work at the Bauhaus School in Germany prior to its closing in 1933. That year, they moved to the U.S., where they lived for the rest of their lives. Anni, primarily a textile artist, was the first in her field to be given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1949, and Josef, a color theorist, painter and teacher, was the first living artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in 1970.  


                                                    COPYRIGHT Iwan Baan

Designed To Inspire
Architect Toshiko Mori 

Designed pro-bono by Toshiko Mori, and built by a local team of contractors, Thread combines local materials and building customs with an innovative design and specific geometry. It won an AIA National Honors award, was short-listed for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, selected for the 2014 Venice Biennale, won two Architizer awards, and was named as one of the best buildings and projects of 2015 by many notable journals, including Architectural Record, WIRED Magazine, among others.”  


                                                COPYRIGHT Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Dev Tv

The Artistic Program
"You Can Go Anywhere From Anywhere" 

The artistic program for Thread is inspired both by Anni’s belief in the vital value of “starting at zero” and Josef’s lifelong desire “to open eyes.” Anni used to say that “you can go anywhere from anywhere,” and Josef made it a perpetual goal to employ "minimal means for maximum effect.” Those beliefs are fundamental to Thread, which otherwise has no fixed artistic program, and Ryan’s on board with all of it. 

"That one line of Anni’s  — you can go anywhere from anywhere; really resonated with me,” says Ryan. “Just to have this space and time to create is really unique, and perfect for me right now. I want to make the best of it.”