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Founder of 'Artists on the Road' Series Shares Travels through Rwanda

Founder of 'Artists on the Road' Series Shares Travels through Rwanda

Posted: March 14, 2016

Carol Townsend, associate professor and coordinator of design foundations at Buffalo State, will present the talk “Rwanda: Not in Kansas Anymore” on Thursday, March 17, at 12:15 p.m. in Upton Hall 230. This lecture, part of the yearlong series “Artists on the Road: Travel as Source of Inspiration,” which Townsend founded as part of her work on the Design Department's Student Concerns/Development Committee, is free and open to the public.

Townsend’s presentation features the tiny nation of Rwanda, where she traveled with students associated with the campus’s Anne Frank Project (AFP), overseen by AFP director Drew Kahn, in 2013.

This group spent two weeks touring the east central African country torn apart by a brutal genocide in 1994. Along with visiting genocide memorial sites, Townsend noted that the group participated in a number of educational tours including seeing giraffes in Akagara National Wildlife Park, participating in the gifting of a cow in a small village of the Muhanga district (Buffalo’s sister city), learning about the native Rwandan justice system, visiting a Congolese family’s mud hut in the Gihembge Refugee Camp, and swinging high on the Nyungwe Forest Canopy Walk.

“I grew up on a dairy farm in the foothills of the Catskills with our nearest neighbors living over a mile away. Even then, I felt that there must be a larger world out there,” said Townsend. “With money saved from the first semester of my first teaching job more than 40 years ago, I set out on a two-week journey through Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Trinidad, Martinique, and San Croix. Travel keeps one from being locked into a narrow mentality. It opens one’s mind, feeds the soul, and encourages ‘we’ instead of ‘me.’”

After earning her master of fine arts from Ohio University, Townsend served as chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Division at Daemen College. She then served as past chair of the Design Department at Buffalo State and past president of the Buffalo Society of Artists.

Her works in ceramics and mixed media have been exhibited widely including in a two-person show at the Liptov Gallery of the Peter Michal Bohun Museum of Art in Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia. She is included in the permanent collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center and her work has appeared in numerous publications. She was granted master craftsman status by the Kenan Center in Lockport, New York, and had led workshops in Mexico and at the Chautauqua Institution. She currently serves on the AFP’s Advisory Board and is the visual arts coordinator for its annual conference.

The Artists on the Road series is co-sponsored by the Design Department and the International and Exchange Programs Office.

The third and final presenter for the spring semester will be Bhakti Sharma, the well-traveled chair of the Interior Design Department, who will present “I Collect Boarding Passes” on April 14 at 12:15 in Upton Hall 230.

For more information on the series, contact Townsend at 878-4986.

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