News / Arts & Entertainment

'Art' of Diplomacy on Display in Washington

'Art' of Diplomacy on Display in Washington i
X
April 10, 2013 7:41 PM
Art has a way of bringing people together, and that was on display at the fifth "Festival des Artistes" in the U.S. capital. Members of the diplomatic community - representing more than 20 countries - showcased their artistic talents. VOA's Suzanne Presto attended the exhibit's opening night at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington and brings us this story.
Suzanne Presto
Art has a way of bringing people together, and that was on display at the fifth "Festival des Artistes" in the U.S. capital where members of the diplomatic community - representing more than 20 countries - showcased their talents.    

Gisele Essongue was among the artists at the festival, hosted by THIS for Diplomats. The group helps envoys and their families adapt to life in the United States.

Essongue creates intricately beaded necklaces, bracelets and dangling earrings, but that's not her day job.  She works at the Embassy of Gabon in Washington.    

Nan Coughlin, the event's organizer, said art brings people together because it transcends language.

"I think when you move to a new country, like the diplomats are doing, you want to get a sense of community," she said. "This really brings them all together, and they get to show their talent as well."

Community and Commentary

The artists at this festival showed their paintings, jewelry, fashion, sculptures and ceramics at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington.

Valeria Caflisch was one. She has traveled extensively with her husband, who works at the Swiss Embassy.  Her brightly colored paintings depict a cartoonish frog prince holding a heart that says "kiss me" and a wide-eyed pig holding a heart that says "hug me."  It's a commentary on what Caflisch described as the "overwhelming emotion" on display in the United States.  

"When you go to the supermarket, people ask you, 'Oh, how are you today?' and everybody wants to hug you, but nobody shakes hands, for example," she said. "So this exchange of saying hello is completely different here than what I experience somewhere else."    

Caflisch said the artists in the diplomatic community frequently have to take time off from their work because they relocate every few years.   

"That is what we have in common," she said.   

Connection

Art can serve as a connection.  Sohna N'Gum of Gambia works with textiles that remind her of her homeland.

"I grew up all over the world, and I always wanted to feel connected to the African continent," she said, "so I started getting things tailor-made in the Gambia using African fabrics, and people started getting interested in them."    

She's a clothing designer now and crafts garments from fabrics that her father acquired during his travels.  

"The great thing about an event like this is that it's international, and it helps people. Americans, get to know about cultures they might not necessarily get to experience," she said.    

Camaraderie

Jewelry-making is one of Etik Witjaksono's hobbies, but she didn't pick it up in her native Indonesia.

"I just learned when I was in South Africa for the first time when my husband was defense attaché in South Africa," she said. "I learned together with my friends."  

Sharing culture, for these artists, is part of the art of diplomacy.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."