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Visual Griots of Mali: An Exhibition of African Youth Photography

Sept. 15, 2008 - March 15, 2009
Heritage Gallery
 
Historians, genealogists, advisors to nobility, entertainers, messengers, storytellers--the griots of West Africa-have long played many roles in the daily life of societies. (Griot (pronounced "gree-oh") refers to a storyteller, poet or musician in western Africa who is a carrier of cultural knowledge.)
 
In January 2005, 22 sixth-graders in Mali, West Africa, participated in a photography workshop. Through instruction and guidance from a team of U.S. and Malian photographers, the children, who had never before touched a camera, became documenters of their village life and, through their photographs, they became young contemporary griots. The exhibition Visual Griots of Mali combines the importance of storytelling with the power of the camera; it features 48 black and white photographs portraying the day-to-day delights and duties of village life. As Dr. Mary Jo Arnoldi of the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History comments, "Through their choice of photographic subjects, the students communicated in a nuanced way what is important in their lives. Their ability to capture the interrelationship between place and identity in these photographs is remarkable." By taking ownership of the project and documenting their lives on their own, the children have created a body of work that demystifies their communities and helps us to understand the human experience. The exhibition is a powerful testimony to the importance of visual literacy and what it can mean both for the photographer and for the viewer of images."
 
The exhibition and the original photography workshop were organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Academy for Educational Development Academy. Mali collaborators included the National Museum of Mali, the Malian Ministry of Culture, and the Seydou Keita Photography Association. The exhibition debuted in the United States in October 2006 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and is now during the country. The presentation of the exhibition at Michigan State University Museum is supported by the MSU Residential College in Arts and Humanities and L.A.T.T.I.C.E. (Linking All Types of Teachers in International Cross-Cultural Education).
 
Also of interest
MALI IN MICHIGAN: ART, RELIGION, AND POLITICS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
 
This year-long series of exhibits, programs and events at Michigan State University is sponsored by the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH), the Public Humanities Collaborative, the Center for Advanced Study of International Development (CASID), and the MSU Museum.
 
Islamic Manuscripts of Tombouctou Photography Exhibit
September 28-October 11, 2008
RCAH LookOut! Gallery - Snyder Hall
These photographs by Alexandra Huddleston will be in the RCAH LookOut! Gallery. Huddleston will also be a visiting Artist-in-Residence during the exhibit in Prof. David Cooper's fall 2008 RCAH Photography Workshop.
 
more information:
Residential College in the Arts and Humanities: (517) 355-0210, http://www.rcah.msu.edu/
Public Humanities Collaborative: (517) 432-3910, http://www.phc.msu.edu/index.php
 
 
Strengthening Civil Society through Dialogue on Faith and Community:
A U.S.-Mali Exchange Program
October 3-17, 2008
Michigan State University and the University of Bamako are partnering in an exchange program focusing on issues of Islam, faith, community and democracy. The program will provide an opportunity for a delegation of Malian clerics and heads of Islamic schools, university faculty with scholarly interests in religion, and community leaders to learn about Islam and the lives of Muslims in the U.S. as well as enhance their knowledge of civil society.
 
The delegation will attend seminars with MSU faculty and meet with Islamic and religious leaders in the Lansing area and other Michigan communities, and then spend a week in Washington, D.C. Alternately, in spring 2009, American clerics, scholars of religion, and community leaders will travel to Mali to learn about Islamic practice and culture, and continue to develop professional and personal linkages for sustained interaction. A second Malian delegation will come to MSU in fall 2009.
 
This program is led by the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development (CASID), in the College of Social Science. The program is made possible by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
 
more information:
Center for Advanced Study of International Development: (517) 353-5925, http://www.casid.msu.edu/
 
Threads of Change: The Transformation of African Textiles Exhibit
January 18, 2009 - August 30, 2009
MSU Museum - Heritage Gallery
Curated by educator and fabric artist Chris Worland, this exhibit of West African traditional and contemporary fabrics at the MSU Museum will include the work of three guest Artists-in-Residence (Kandioura Coulibaly and Boubacar Doumbia of Groupe Kasobane in Mali and American Janet Goldner) who will also participate February 2-16, 2009 in Worland's spring 2009 RCAH 291 Fabric Art Workshop and in several community outreach and engagement projects. Other linkages planned include gallery tours at the MSU Museum and RCAH workshop space for local community and school groups.
 
 
 
Ambassadorial Visits
Former Malian Ambassador Cheick Oumar Diarrah, a visiting scholar at MSU, and former US Ambassadors to Mali Vicki Huddleston and David Rawson will be at MSU to meet with the Malian delegation and attend special events, including a presentation by Alexandra Huddleston to the Malian delegation on October 6 and a presentation to the Malian delegation by Prof. Candace Keller of the Department of Art and Art History and the RCAH on the Visual Griots exhibit on October 7.
 
Residential College in the Arts and Humanities: (517) 355-0210, http://www.rcah.msu.edu/
 
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