“It’s very exciting. I’ve been to Africa before, but it’s a new country to work in,” Dewey said.
Previously, Dewey did most of his research in Zimbabwe. In Swaziland, Dewey will research the art of traditional Swazi blacksmiths and woodcarvers. This work will include interviewing the craftsmen about their art and how it is used in their culture.
“Most of my publications and scholarly work are focused on similar things, especially with Zimbabwe,” Dewey said. “In a way, this is a continuation, but with a new geographic focus.”
He plans also to assist museum staff with documentation and educational materials.
“They need a lot of help,” Dewey said. “I visited there last summer and Swaziland is a small country. It is about the size of New Jersey, with not very many resources.”
Swaziland only has one museum and it is frequently full of school children who want to learn more about their Swazi cultural heritage, Dewey said. He therefore proposed creating a brochure for both school children and tourists to learn more about the Swazi culture and traditions.
His research will coincide with his work at UT. He teaches classes about African art history, the African Diaspora and art made by the native peoples of the Pacific Islands and Australia. Dewey has curated many exhibitions on African art, including the 2003 exhibit at UT’s McClung Museum titled “The World Moves — We Follow: Celebrating African Art.”
“I really enjoy writing books, putting together catalogs and brochures” for art shows, Dewey said. “That’s my artistic expression.”