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Tuesday, 31 January 2017 21:41

WCU ‘Soft Diplomacy’ exhibition

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The Western Carolina University Fine Art Museum at the Bardo Arts Center is currently showcasing the exhibition “Soft Diplomacy: Quilting Cultural Diplomacy in Liberia” through May 5. There will be a reception on Thursday, Feb. 9.

Curated by Dr. Stephanie Beck Cohen, “Soft Diplomacy” explores quilts made in Liberia, West Africa, and gifted across the Atlantic Ocean as part of cultural diplomacy with the United States. During the 19th century, American settlers carried this artistic tradition to Liberia. In the centuries that followed, quilts served as both an anchor to their American heritage and a medium through which Liberian women visualize their daily lives and their nation’s history.

“Soft Diplomacy” demonstrates the strength, endurance, and changing nature of textiles and the relationships between the women who make them, their patrons, and collaborators. The exhibition brings together Liberian quilts used in political exchange, depicting political and national themes for the first time, highlighting the works of Liberian women from the 20th and 21st centuries who visualized cultural memory and trauma before, during and after Liberia’s civil war.

The series of events related to this exhibition begins on Thursday, Feb. 9, with a round-table discussion on, “Africa, Cultural Exchange and Soft Diplomacy” from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Immediately after the round table discussion, there will be a gallery talk with Guest Curator Dr. Stephanie Beck Cohen from 5 to 6 p.m. and a reception from 6 to 7 p.m. In addition to the reception events, there will be an Artist Talk on “Cultural Diplomacy, Why Art Matters” from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, and a curator talk on “Art in Embassies” from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Thursday, March 23.

All events are free and open to the public. For further information or to schedule a tour, visit or call 828.227.3591.

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