BiographyJosiah Tlou was born in 1935 in Zimbabwe, Africa. He came to Luther College after an eight-year career as a school teacher and principal in Zimbabwe. He received a degree from Morgenster Training College in 1957 (Zimbabwe) before graduating from Luther College with a degree in history in 1968. During his years at Luther College he also took several pottery classes in the Art Department. He earned an MA degree in history from Illinois State University in 1969. After receiving that degree, he returned to Luther College as a faculty member for three years helping to establish what was then known as the Black Studies Department. He completed his Doctorate of Education degree at the University of Illinois in 1976. During the summer of 1967, he studied with Marguerite Wildenhain at her Pond Farm workshops in Guerneville, CA. He also studied ceramics at South Bear School with Dean Schwarz in 1973.
Tlou taught two years as a social studies teacher and curriculum consultant in Glencoe, Illinois. Ultimately he joined the faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA, rising to the rank of full professor in 2002. At Virginia Tech, he was a member of the Department of Teaching and Learning, retiring in 2005.
He received an honorary doctorate (humane letters) from Luther College in 2003. The citation read in part:
During his tenure at Virginia Tech he has also made major contributions to education in his native land. For three years he worked for the Ministry of Education in Botswana and was a Senior Lecturer at its national university in a primary education improvement project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. He spent two years advising the government of Malawi on a girls literacy project run through Harvard’s Institute for International Development and for three more years taught and did research in that country directing transforming schools into professional development sites.
Tlou is the author of several books, a number of book chapters, and has written many papers for professional journals and conferences. He received a Distinguished Service Award from Luther in 1978 and in 2002 an award for Excellence in International Programs from Virginia Tech.
The vase created by Tlou in 1971 was donated to the Pond Farm Collection by Ed and Elizabeth Kaschins, emeriti faculty members at Luther College. It features a flared neck and small foot, decorated in large blue, light gray, and flecked gray checks on the exterior. Checks are incised into the clay. The interior is glazed light gray. Another vase, donated to the Fine Arts Collection by Tlou, was created that same year. An image of this vase was used on the opening convocation program cover when Tlou received his honorary degree in 2003. A .Vase with Deer, created by Tlou while a student at South Bear School, was donated to the Fine Arts Collection by Dean and Geraldine Schwarz in 2005.
Source of BiographyPond Farm Collection: Works of Art Created by Students Who Studied with Marguerite Wildenhain at her Pond Farm Studio. Text by Jane Kemp. Decorah, IA: Luther College, 2003