RCAH exhibition captures Malian culture
Arts and Humanities junior Moussa Traore was surprised to find pieces from his home country of Mali after coming to the U.S. last week to attend MSU.
Mali On Our Minds is an art exhibition in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, or RCAH’s, LookOut! Gallery of Snyder and Phillips halls. The gallery focuses on and celebrates Malian culture through textiles, wood carvings and photography.
“When I am looking at this, it’s like I am in Mali,” Traore said. “There is nothing missing. The college did a great job.”
Within a week of being at MSU, Traore also said he never thought people would be so welcoming to his culture.
“I never thought there was a spot for Mali here in Michigan,” Traore said. “It makes me very happy.”
College officials wanted to host the gallery after a talk it held called “Why Mali Matters.” In the talk, the former U.S. ambassador to Mali, Vicki Huddleston, discussed the political upheaval in Mali and how it interrupted interactions between MSU and Mali.
“This gallery is a better way to celebrate Malian community and culture,” RCAH Dean Stephen Esquith said. “Putting in an art exhibit also helps keep awareness up.”
Items in the gallery include a mix of traditional and contemporary fabrics and clothing created by alumna Chelsea Gallagher, traditional wood carvings from Mali, a handmade horse dressing and photography from Alexandra Huddleston, who is Vicki Huddleston’s daughter.
Alexandra Huddleston said she started as an artist in residence for the RCAH in 2008 and was drawn to MSU because of its involvement in South Africa.
Alexandra Huddleston said that even though it is important to be knowledgeable about the politics in Mali, she enjoys knowing what the people are like and how they live.
“Personally, I want to understand the people as people, such as what is important to them and why they live they way they do,” Huddleston said. “The more you learn, the more you understand a situation culturally, economically and religiously.”
To see some of these Malian items and others, visit the gallery from noon to 2 p.m. to Sept. 20 Monday to Friday or the RCAH will open the gallery during off hours if they are available.