ST CHARLES, Mo. — Inside St. Charles’ Foundry Art Center, you’ll find an artist of two worlds.
Sofi Seck, a basket weaver, was born in Senegal. She was just awarded studio space inside the foundry to work on her African craft.
At the age of 15, Sofi’s mother sent her to St. Louis from Senegal to live with a friend. The goal was for Sofi to get an education.
“A lot of people there aren’t able to have an education because it isn’t free," Sofi said. "There is no public education, so after primary school, you have to pay or you don’t go to school.”
She learned to read and write at McCluer High School in Florissant.
Sofi is still close with her mother and extended family back in Senegal and has launched a new business to bring both of her worlds together.
Sofi founded “Expedition Subsahara,” a business meant to build a STEAM school for girls in Senegal by selling handmade African baskets. She wants to build the school in the eastern Sudan city of St. Louis.
Creating unique baskets is a skill Sofi treasures.
“We are the people that created this style of weaving, and we are the people who passed it down,” she said.
Sofi sells her baskets at her studio at the Foundry Art Center and also online.
To keep up with the demand, Sofi employs two Senegalese women to also weave the baskets. All the materials in each basket are from Senegal.
The final financial goal to build a school in Senegal is around $300,000. It’s a goal Sofi is determined to reach.
“Why not be the change? If anybody is going to do it, why not me?” Sofi said.