Once a Peace Corps Volunteer Always a Peace Corps Volunteer…



Local Artist Seeks Looks to Create More Support for Traditional and Indigenous Arts Through Her Crowdfunding Campaign.

Ever heard of the Naga? What about the Bapounou or the Wolof? All of these are ethnic groups from countries around the world; India, Gabon, and Senegal respectively. Well, if the answer is no, then Tracie Thornton wants to introduce you.

Here are some facts for you:
  • ​​War, natural disasters, and economic uncertainty leave the traditional and indigenous arts in danger like never before.
  • There are at least four major museums dedicated exclusively to traditional and indigenous arts in the United States.
  • ​The youth in various cultures rarely continue to practice arts traditional for their respective cultures because of a lack of economic opportunity that supports promotion of their culture.
​I have a simple goal: to get people to listen. I want to educate the public on what we are in danger of loosing if we don’t pay attention. It should be sad to us all that there artistic traditions that are in danger of simply disappearing without a trace. This is a problem for the world arts community at large, not just specific cultures. The arts for too long as maintained a reputation of being exclusive (which of course isn’t true or shouldn’t be), this is why traditional and indigenous arts are so important: they are about art forms that are accessible to all.


A crowdfunding campaign, Art Guardian, was recently started by Thornton to raise funds for a series of collaborative art projects she’d like to do in an effort to draw attention to the need to protect traditional and indigenous art. This project isn’t just for groups here in the United States such as the Gullah and Native Americans, but Thornton is attempting to work internationally as well. Her first project is targeted for India.

Thornton, formerly a Peace Corps volunteer, says she came up with the core of the idea during her service several years ago. It was something on her mind that wouldn’t let go.

“I was very troubled during my service that it was so difficult to find artwork reflective of the culture of the country where I was. I literally had to ‘put the word out’ so to speak that I was looking for pieces made by local artisans. Masks and stuff like that. It made me a little sad.”

Though Thornton’s own artwork has always been culturally influenced, she admits at one point there was a lack of urgency on her part as well:

“Who really thinks in finite terms all of the time? Who really wants to think when something will be over, no longer available, and no longer in existence on this planet? But it is true; the very artistic essence of various cultures is disappearing right before our eyes.”

By working in collaboration with artists from those areas that have been culturally challenged or ignored artistically Thornton hopes to create awareness about these people and places.

The road hasn’t been easy. Thornton tried unsuccessfully to participate in OneSpark earlier this year and has been looking for ways to fund her project.

“I finally came to the conclusion that the ones who can really make this project come to fruition are the ones that would benefit the most: the community.”

Which is why she chose the more and more popular option of crowdfunding.

Of her project she says:

“I have an art dream: to cultivate creative and cultural understanding amongst artists and help to protect the arts in tactile, hands on way that hasn’t really been done before.”

To support Tracie Thornton’s project Art Guardian go to her website www.theurbanatelier.com or Rockethub: http://rkthb.co/49041 for more information.