FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

My Hands, My Tools

The 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP20) that took place in Lima, Peru in December 2014 was the appropriate background for Vickie Frémont, a Cameroonian/French artist and entrepreneur. She took advantage of the event to conduct a series of workshops called “Citizen Workshops” with participation of people from all ages.

Ms. Frémont’s workshops combine a hands-on approach for the transformation of rejects or trash into useful everyday objects. Included in her workshops –which take place in schools, community centers, universities and even in commercial malls- are lectures on the destructive effects that trash of every kind has on the environment and on climate change.

She conducted her workshops using recycled materials at The Fashion Institute of Technology, The Bank Street School for Children, The Henry Street Settlement in New York City, Community Works, and numerous museums, libraries and public and private schools. She particularly remembers the time during one of her workshops when an elderly lady came up to her and asked her, “So, Vickie, what are we going to do next week?”

Ms. Frémont was born in Cameroon but left that country at an early age. She lived in Morocco with her parents, and afterwards also in the Ivory Coast and in France. Ms. Frémont has a dual background –a Cameroonian mother and a French father- which she believes has considerably enriched her view of the world and allowed her to see the points of contact of different cultures.

She has been designing and creating objects from recycled materials since she was eight years old, without any formal education. When she was 12, she began making dolls for her little sister. That initial work developed later into a passion for creating new objects out of recycled materials.

She focuses on what she loves: creating jewelry, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, sculptures, and children’s toys and art objects out of different materials such as hangers, plastic baskets, paper, cardboard, old wood objects, and rope, in short, anything that can be re-used. When I asked her what was her guiding emotion she told me, “To keep a part of my childhood, and to center myself.”

Despite all her teaching activities she considers herself much more than a teacher. As she said, “Much more than a teacher, I think of myself as someone who opens doors –the doors that exist inside us that make possible to discover and develop our own creativity and to be able to have a better, richer communication with other people and other cultures.”

Her program of working and creating hand made objects has a set of goals which Ms. Frémont describes as: providing materials for practical work which will lead to awakening the students’ creativity, restoring their self-esteem, developing their capacity to transmit their experience and new knowledge to others and getting training for commercial and business activities. As part of this last activity participants are taught business techniques such as adequate packaging, sales techniques, and bookkeeping.

After working in different countries she settled in New York, where she was the manager in charge of purchases at the Museum of African Art and continued expanding her activities as a jewelry designer. That activity brought her great recognition and international brands bought her creations. Talking about this activity she said, “My jewelry speaks about beauty as a source of empowerment. Each of my pieces is unique, as each woman is also unique.”

Her Recycling Art Program teaches students how to create artistic objects from materials as diverse as stones, wooden sticks and scraps of fabric. She told me, “Creating something from ‘nothing’, art that some people would consider trash, is not only a worthwhile undertaking but one that brings personal pleasure and understanding.”

That program has so far been adapted to be carried out with primary school children, high school and college students, teachers, parents and seniors. For people working in stressful situations, it can provide them with entertainment and a way out of their routine work and a way to express their natural talents. As she says, “Beauty can be found everywhere. Transformation of objects is like a miracle, a re-creation. This activity helps people to restore their self-esteem and it opens a door into the unlimited world of creativity.”

At the heart of her work is a powerful, personal vision of Africa, a vital, energetic continent of hard working men and women, a continent of beautiful children and young men and women, a continent of humor and a continent of hope.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant and a winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail