Home Institution

Tulane University

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

Senegal: National Identity and the Arts


I chose an alternative ISP of doing batik because it incorporated all of the facets of my interests: anthropology, international development, and art. As an artist, creating my own batik satisfied my love for expressing how I see the world through art. As an anthropologist, I was able to gain insight on a new culture. As an international activist, I was able to explore how batik can be used as a mechanism to improve the quality of life for people in Senegal. While my project was all encompassing, the primary objective of my research was to gain an understanding of the techniques and process of making batik. I accomplished this by taking formal batik lessons. The other component of my research was to narrow the broad subject of batik through a focus on how art can be used as an empowerment tool. For the purpose of my paper, empowerment is defined as having reliable economic opportunities that can be used to enhance the quality of life for people in Senegal. My objective in doing so was to explore how art can provide opportunities for work and the economic means to better one’s way of life. I accomplished this by conducting interviews only with other batik artists and arts empowerment groups in Senegal.

This ISP concluded in the creation of four batik tableaux and a multiplicity of smaller pieces. The process of making batik also made me reevaluate how I work as an artist and inspired me to let the batik flow naturally from my creative core. Finally, as a means of empowerment, the final results of my research showed that l’art du batik[1] is a less successful means of generating income than petit artisanats[2] who make batik for the sole purpose of selling.

[1] The art of batik. This refers to batik created for the sole purpose of being art for art’s sake, and often entails multiple colors and intricate images.

[2] Craftsmen. This type of batik is more simplistic and easily reproducible for mass vending.


Art and Design | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures


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