MU brings in Mali artists to talk about work

Monday, September 29, 2008 | 6:44 p.m. CDT; updated 6:58 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 30, 2008

COLUMBIA —Art is by nature a global conversation because it is primarily concerned with the universal human condition. MU's International Center took up a discussion on this topic when it hosted a round table Monday afternoon, called Global Conversation on the Arts, to discuss art and its impact on the international community.

The panelists included Abdoulaye Konaté, a Malian artist; Janet Goldner, an American artist based in New York; and Mary Jo Arnoldi, a curator for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.


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The discussion, which focused on Malian art, is part of a joint effort between the art departments at MU and the University of Missouri-Kansas City to establish an international exchange program for fine arts students. 

Mali, a country in western Africa, has a unique artistic tradition that blends visual, performance and verbal art forms.

Robert Baum, a professor for the MU Department of Religious Studies, translated for Konaté as he spoke about his art. Konaté's work has appeared in locations ranging from a subway station in Lisbon, Portugal, to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Many of his works portray his country's turbulent military history, AIDS and the experience of Malian immigrants in Europe.

Goldner's art incorporates both American and Malian symbols. Although she has spent time in several countries, she cites Mali as one of her primary artistic influences.

Craig Subler, a professor of art and art history at the University of Missouri- Kansas City, went to Mali right after the overthrow of the military government in 1990. He became interested in the country when he saw that in the new democracy, artists were able to elevate their positions in society.

Subler, along with Lampo Leong, a professor of art, painting and drawing at MU, has worked for the past year to bring together the panelists. The Global Conversation on the Arts round table will also be held in Kansas City later this week.


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