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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”