Father and son Tony Artis and Andre Rosa-Artis practice African drum making, “one of the oldest traditions in the world.” After watching craftsmen make djembe drums on a trip to Ghana, Tony was inspired, and received multiple fellowships to study drum making with artists in Ohio and Cuba. He also studied under master drum maker Prince Julius Adeniyi based in Indianapolis. Tony’s son, Andre, learned to build drums through this apprenticeship. Tony taught essential drum making skills, which include mathematics, carpentry, macramé, and welding.
According to Tony and Andre, the objective of the drum is to speak things into existence. Tony notes the Yoruba word for this phenomenon is ofo àse (the power of the word). As Andre explains, “When you build a drum from scratch, your energy—your blood, your sweat, your tears—are in the drum, so when you play the drum, you speak with that energy.”