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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.