My work bridges diverse cultures, celebrating the unique beauty and genius of each as well as what we have in common. I explore culture, identity and social justice in various media: sculpture, photography, video, installation and social projects.
Cultural preservation is important to my work. My research takes the form of immersive field work. Annual visits to Mali provide inspiration. My social consciousness and my deep and continuing interest in African art and culture also fuel my work.
Social projects internationally and in the US include participation with diverse groups of artists and non-artists. I engage in long-term collaborations, particularly with Malian artists. We are all, at the same time, researcher and object of research producing dialogues and concrete works of art.
My life experiences play an integral part in the development of my work. A master welder, I work in three dimensions as well as on paper, on the floor, on walls, and suspended from the ceiling, indoors and outdoors. My work combines poetry, patterns, forms and African themes that engage in social discourse.
Born to a family of political activists, I grew up in Washington, D.C., immersed in the activism of the 1960's. The evolution of my sculpture traces my enduring exploration of sculptural form, my ongoing relationship with African culture, and my lifelong involvement in political activism.
I first traveled to West Africa as a college undergraduate. Since my 1995 Fulbright Fellowship, I have traveled to Mali every year. I have received two Fulbright Senior Specialist grants and grants from the Ford Foundation and the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid.
Exhibition highlights include Multiple Exposures and Global Africa Project at the Museum of Arts and Design; Women Facing AIDS at the New Museum, Have We Met?, a major installation at Colgate University. Permanent collections include the American Embassy in Mali, the city of Segou, Mali and the Islip Museum on Long Island, NY.
My work in the US and internationally includes cultural, educational and women's empowerment projects as well as commissions, exhibitions, collaborations, residencies, community art projects, public art projects. I have been working in Mali for more than two decades.
1 ZigZags, Steel, 2014
Zig-Zag is a series of gestural steel sculptures. The sculptures are glyph-like, inspired by West African symbolic writing systems. Zig-Zags occur in Malian chiwara masks and in ideograms,signifying a road that is not straight but contains many twists, turns and detours.
2 Have We Met? steel sculpture, video, sound installation, 2007
Have We Met? is a installation with steel sculpture, video and sound. Combining sculpture and video, Have We Met? bridges Malian realities and Western audiences with images that are small, personal and human. My aim is to present a realistic image of Africa that is nuanced and positive, countering persistent negative stereotypes.
3 Ideograms, Steel, 3' x 8' x 3", 2015
Ideograms are a symbolic writing system used by the Dogon people of Mali as part of ceremonies and divination.
4 The Granary, steel, Segou. Mali, 2006
The Association Segou-Laben invited me to collaborate with them to create a steel sculpture for a traffic circle on the major highway. The work is based on Bamana history, symbolism and mythology and plays an important role in of the renewal of Segou.
5 Fire and Water, Steel, Video, Sound, 10' x 10' 2014
This mixed media wall installation combines welded steel, video and sound. It pays homage to the potters and blacksmiths in Mail. The videos are documentary. The sculptural elements are abstract. Since they are inspired by the same source, they compliment and enlarge each other.
6 Ebola Came to Mali on a Bus, Steel, Gloves, Goggles, 10' x 12' x 4'. 2015
This work was made while there were two cases of Ebola in Mali. The
text follows the form of the virus and follows the medical and
political progress of the disease. Fortunately, Ebola never entered the
general population in Mali.
7 Woven, Steel, 30" x 18" x 3", 2015
8 Can We Acknowledge?, 4' x 25' x 4', steel
This work is a continuation of my series of large steel books. The
interplay of positive and negative space, of image and text is
important to this work. This steel accordion-book/fence has five 4-foot
x 4-foot steel pages which ask , "Can we acknowledge the pain we have
caused in the world, even as we struggle with our own?"
9 Garden Gate, Private collection, Ossining, NY, 6’ x 7’ x 1’, steel
10 Ideogram Book 1, 18" x 24" x 10", steel, 2010
Ideograms are a symbolic writing system. The ideograms here
are used by the Dogon people of Mali as part of ceremonies
and divination. The three ideograms visible here refer to wake up, a
big fire to purify the earth and writing or knowledge of the unknown.
11 Ideogram Book 2, 24" x 36" x 24", steel, 2007
Ideograms are a symbolic writing system. The ideograms here are
used by the Dogon people of Mali as part of ceremonies and divination.
12 Wealth in Africa, Photographs, video, sound, mixed media, 40" x 32" x 2", 2013
Wealth in Africa is a mixed media sculpture in the form of a large necklace. Inspired by my long connection to the Continent, Wealth in Africa highlights
the richness of Africa– the people and their culture(s). In this work I
use photographs, video and sound I recorded in Kalabougou to pay homage
to the renowned women potters, the upholders of a long tradition of
skill, resilience and humanity. I resided and conducted research In Kalabougou during part of my Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship in 1994-5.