Interviewed at her home by Sandra Grady
21 April 2011

Kauthar Khalfan was born and grew up in Zanzibar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the Tanzanian coast. She studied art in high school and learned about the Tanzania Women’s Artists Network through a workshop in Zanzibar, which provided her the opportunity to come to Toledo in 2009. At that time, she was introduced to the Fine Arts program at Siena Heights University, and eventually received a scholarship to pursue her Bachelors of Arts in Graphic Design there. She has three more years to complete her studies.

Kauthar works in a variety of media, including painting, drawing and card cutting, skills she first learned in school in Zanzibar and is now developing in her studies at Siena Heights. She sells her work through exhibits and other contacts familiar with her work, and hopes to expand her opportunities to exhibit by participating in arts festivals around Ohio. When she finishes her studies, she hopes to return to Tanzania and help other women artists to better use their skills.

In 2007, Kauthar worked with a Swedish scholar to document stories and art from Zanzibar, and hopes to continue this work as well. She has had some opportunity to participate in singing, dancing, and drumming programs in Toledo area schools, and hopes to produce more programs to educate others about East African life.

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