Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Artist shares life of Maasai tribe through paintings at Gulfport art show

GULFPORT — Ten years ago, Anne Morton of St. Petersburg picked up her first paintbrush in an art class at the Gulfport Senior Center.

This month, she's hosting an art show in the lobby of another part of the same building, the Catherine A. Hickman Theater.

In between, she made two missionary trips to Kenya, Africa — teaching Maasai widows and orphans how to sew. It became the basis for her paintings and her Maasai Women exhibition.

Morton, a former teacher and Ohio native, manages to capture a genuine happiness on the faces of the proud African women who wear brightly colored garments and beaded jewelry and live in the highlands on the border of Kenya and Tanzania.

"I fell in love with the Maasai women. They are the happiest people and have the most beautiful smiles — and they are so eager to learn," she said.

Morton went to Kenya, which is on the eastern coast of Africa, with a missionary group called Threads of Hope, formed in 1996 by her friends, Al and Gail Barrett of Dunedin. It wasn't a coincidence sewing became their missionary work. Al Barrett designs and sews canvas boat tops, covers and upholstery for a living.

"Our purpose is to bring sewing skills and equipment in order to meet the needs where God directs us. Our intent is to help them gain financial stability, giving them a start they could not otherwise have on their own," the group's mission statement says in part.

The Maasai, Morton said, were thankful for the donated sewing machines — electric and treadle for places there is no electricity — thread, material and other sewing accessories but the beads, not so much.

"They wouldn't use them. They only use the traditional beads," she said.

In the four weeks Morton spent in Kenya in 2004 and again in 2005, she and several fellow missionaries stayed in the tribal chief's compound and ate lots of stew: potatoes, beef or lamb, carrots and onions.

The Maasai are herdsmen. They raise cattle but grow very few crops.

While Morton is not sure she'll go back— it's very expensive— she said she believes her group made a difference in the lives of the hard-working Maasai women.

"They made great strides in their sewing ability because they kept practicing."

Exactly what Morton said she plans to do with her painting.

Patti Ewald lives in Gulfport. Reach her at

If you go

Maasai Women

9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through October at the Catherine A. Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Ave. S, Gulfport. Free.

Artist shares life of Maasai tribe through paintings at Gulfport art show 10/18/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 12:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.