Amos Supuni 1970-2008

In the summer of 2003 Amos Supuni was an artist in residence for Alta Community Enrichment, teaching a week long workshop on the art of stone carving in Little Cottonwood Community.

Written by Ellza Coyle ACE founder and friend of Amos Supuni:

"Tap" "tap" "clink" "clink", hammer hitting chisel hitting stone created a rhythm of sounds as fledgling students under the tutelage of Amos Supuni were guided in the art of stone carving in the summer of 2003. Alta Community Enrichment had engaged Supuni along with Kennedy, in providing three workshops where rank beginners, who had never held a chisel before, to slightly more advanced students, attended the week long workshops. The previous summer Amos was in Utah at the Red Butte Gardens with The Chapungu Exhibit. Some of the "slightly more advanced students" had met and been captivated by the art and wished to continue their learning. This desire led to Amos returning, living with local Alta residents and sharing his humor and teaching skills. In addition, Amos stayed into November as other efforts allowed him to continue in Salt Lake City.

The program was a success for ACE in that of the thirty plus students who participated experienced the joys along with frustrations of creativity. Some had never ventured into the making of art beyond their high school years. The finished pieces truly brought a sense of awe as the raw stones evolved into notable forms from the genuine guidance provided. Personal discoveries and achievements brought new talents forth as friendships developed and a community of stone carvers continues in the area.

Supuni’s sculptures, visited by thousands at Utah’s Red Butte Garden, and his teaching and friendship, inspired many!


Written by Carol Koleman from Catalyst Magazine

We read about political corruption and terrorism in Zimbabwe-the cholera epidemic, tragic deaths and civil unrest; but it seems so distant. We experience these events abstractly, somewhat emotionally removed: We cannot comprehend the challenges that people face half a world away.

But the violent death of a friend with whom many in Salt Lake City were connected, who was a part of our community, changes all that.

Amos Supuni came to Utah in 2002 to teach stone carving, though he did not teach as much as inspire those he came in contact with. Amos was a true master artist who taught his students how to be guided by the stone rather then follow his technique. He believed there is a dialogue with the material, that one "may start with an idea, but the stone makes its own decision." He said, "You have to let go of your preconceptions, you have to learn how to respect the stone, how to negotiate with it."

Amos was born in 1970. In 1989 after completing school, he became involved with a Catholic youth group and a year later moved to Silvera House, a Catholic-run skills training center. There he learned to work with stone, and found that he excelled.

In 1991, Amos spent six months in Tanzania as part of a cultural exchange program. There he learned print making, batik, lino cut and etching techniques while holding workshops for stone carving. He returned to Silvera House to continue his work. In 1996, he was chosen by Chapungu founder Roy Guthrie to become part of the Chapungu artists' residency program and would later travel the world exhibiting and teaching stone carving workshops.

Amos often returned to Silvera House to encourage and teach those who wanted to sculpt. His own experiences showed him that community-based projects were a source of support and income for youths and he believed art could be a way out of poverty. Amos viewed his work as "a voice for the voiceless," often tackling social issues such as the plight of street kids and the poverty-stricken. But he also portrayed the joys of human experience such as his depictions of extended family, the birth of his son, and his connection to the natural world which is at the heart of Shona (Zimbabwean) sculpture.

In 2002, Red Butte Garden exhibited the works of the Chapunga group and over several months, members of the group taught workshops to the public. Amos so inspired our community that he was asked by the Alta Community Enrichment and Snowbird Resort to teach a three-month workshop. This was followed by another three-month series through Salt Lake's First Unitarian Church.

Amos touched many people in our community; some call him brother, some changed the direction of their lives to practice stone carving. Many have their own creations displayed proudly in their homes. All are a testament to the remarkable influence this one man made in a few short months in America.

Amos' life in his homeland was very difficult, with starvation a daily threat as a result of Zimbabwe's economic collapse. In fact, it was in search of food in neighboring Mozambique for his family that Amos was killed.

Amos leaves behind an extended family that depended on him for support: mother, aunts, three stepsons, his pregnant wife Fortun?ate, and other community members.

Amos' body was put to rest late last month with funds gathered from his Utah community of friends.

After all that Amos has given to this community, the opportunity has arisen for us to give back to him. CATALYST Magazine has set up a bank account for any contributions you would like to give. All funds will be transferred immediately to Amos' family in Zimbabwe. In addition, Michael Reid represents Amos in Utah and has many pieces of Amos' work that are available for sale.


Zimbabwe: 45 Years Of Chaos Written By Jon DeJong of Catalyst

Zimbabwe, the former British colonial state of Southern Rhodesia, is a prime example of how not to hand over power from whites to blacks. In 1965, before a black government could be formed, minority white settlers led by Ian Smith declared independence from Britian and set up an all-white government. International sanctions and a refusal by most of the world to recognize Smith’s regime led to a dire economic situation which destabilized the government.

Two separate liberation movements quickly formed. The Chinese backed ZANU, led by Robert Mugabe, which represented the 80% of the black population who spoke Shona.

The Soviets backed ZAPU, led by Joshua Nkomo which represented the 20% of the black population who spoke Sindebele. After an ugly conflict and protracted negotiations to reach a settlement, Robert Mugabe won elections held in 1980. Strained relations between ZANU and ZAPU were worsened when the white regime in South Africa began a series of acts of sabotage making it look like ZAPU was responsible.

Elections were held in Zimbabwe last year. The results indicated that Mugabe had lost to Morgan Tsvangirai. But because Tsvangirai had failed to get 50% of the vote, a run-off election was needed. Leading up to the run-off election, hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were murdered. Given the violence, Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off but subsequently entered into power-sharing talks.

Unfortunately, Mugabe has refused to share any real power and as negotiations drag on and the already devastated economy (an inflation rate in the trillions) continues a death spiral. Since August a cholera epidemic has sickened at least 30,000 and killed 1,600 – a direct result of breakdowns in public sanitation and public health systems.

Ironically, it is now the black government of South Africa that is supporting Mugabe in the face of unanimous international condemnation.