Mother, daughter duo mixing art with service in Uganda
Africa. The word kept coming up in casual conversations, no matter the topic.
But why? It’s not like local artist Dianna Fritzler had ever been there. Heck, when she was a wide-eyed, 25-year-old backpacking around the world, she skipped that continent.
But 25 years later, Africa.
After all the random conversations about Africa and an inexplicable pull in December to research the nonprofit Light Gives Heat, Fritzler gave in and made a life-changing decision about herself and this continent half a world away.
Inspired by the work David and Morgan Hansow are doing through Light Gives Heat, Fritzler and her daughter Carsyn Fritzler, 17, are planning to go to Africa for two months early next year to teach art to Ugandans of all ages.
Light Gives Heat is a Grand Junction-based nonprofit that employs Ugandans, mostly women, to make items such as jewelry and handbags that the nonprofit then sells locally and online as a way to provide a stable income for the Ugandans.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Africa, but I didn’t want to just go as a tourist,” Dianna Fritzler said. “I know that’s not where you get to understand a culture and a people.”
Although the Fritzlers aren’t traveling to Africa with the Hansows, the women will stay in the Hansow’s home in Jinja, Uganda, and coordinate art classes through Light Gives Heat workers familiar with the country and its people.
It will be an eye-opening experience for both the Fritzlers and the Ugandans they will work with who rarely, if ever, are exposed to art lessons, particularly from a professional artist, Morgan Hansow said.
“Honestly, it’s not like it’s something they’ve been asking for because (art) is a luxury,” she said. “They are creative, and they have talent, but they don’t necessarily have access to the materials to make it happen.”
The opportunity to learn creative skills is not a priority considering so many simply struggle to afford food, Hansow said. The chance to learn something new for free, however, will be an opportunity some will not pass up.
“I think they will be really exited,” Hansow said.
Although the specific lesson ideas have not been finalized because the trip is still eight months away, the Fritzlers are in planning mode. After all, it takes quite a bit of organization and fundraising to get two women and 280 pounds of art supplies from Grand Junction to Uganda.
Dianna Fritzler estimates their plane tickets will cost roughly $8,000, and the art supplies — pastels, acrylics, brushes, paper, cloth, etc. — will cost an additional $2,500 to $3,000.
“I want them to walk away with pieces they can put in their homes,” Fritzler said.
They plan to take almost everything with them because supplies are limited in Uganda and shipping items can be problematic because of damage or theft.
To raise money, Carsyn Fritzler has two jobs this summer, working seven days a week either selling concessions at the Lincoln-Park Moyer Pool or serving coffee at Traders Coffee & Tea.
And Dianna Fritzler will have a “100 for $100” sale from 5–8 p.m. Friday, June 22, and again from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 23, at Twisted Brick Studios, 128 E. Third St., in Palisade.
One hundred 8x10 original Fritzler paintings will be sold for $100 each. Each purchase will include a free copy of Light Give Heat’s original documentary “Moving On.”
Normally, the same size Fritzler original retails for $210.
“I’ve gotten to paint things I’ve always wanted to,” Fritzler said about the pieces she’s created for the “100 for $100.”
All money raised at the art sale will go to the Fritzlers’ trip to Uganda.
There will be refreshments and a cash bar. Light Gives Heat products also will be available to purchase at the event.
Dianna Fritzler started painting for this sale in January and only recently finished the 100 pieces. It’s been an all-consuming, labor of love that, this time last year, could never have been predicted, she said.
In November, Dianna Fritzler grew restless and stuck after $25,000 worth of commission pieces fell through. About the same time, Carsyn Fritzler became upset after plans to study abroad fell through three times.
Through the frustrations, Africa kept coming up in conversations, leading Dianna Fritzler to meditate and pray on why and was led to look up Light Gives Heat online.
Fritzler did, found out it was a Grand Junction nonprofit, and called David Hansow immediately to figure out why she was led to help.
The result is this trip, which will fulfill both women’s wishes to travel abroad and immerse themselves in a new culture, while simultaneously offering a service.
Morgan Hansow is proud that these women will volunteer through Light Gives Heat to teach a special skill even though neither has been to Uganda, let alone taught art classes for two straight months.
“A lot of times, when people experience fear, they don’t actually step out,” Morgan Hansow said. “I’m really excited for them to get to use their gifts.”