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Cross Cultural Exterior Mural
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Special Project
U.S. Embassy Dakar - Cross Cultural Exterior Mural
Project Description
In her large-scale mural Mickalene Thomas pays homage to the landscape around Dakar and to the dynamic character of its culture and people.
Project Description
In her large-scale mural Mickalene Thomas pays homage to the landscape around Dakar and to the dynamic character of its culture and people.

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After Mickalene Thomas was commissioned to create the mural, she had the opportunity to visit Dakar, and was struck by the beauty of both the urban and natural landscape of the area. She was especially struck by its markets, the beach, the buildings, native trees and plants, and boats, which she photographed and used as inspiration in her piece. Thus, her wide mural provides vignettes of the region. Taken together, the horizontally arranged vignettes create a kaleidoscopic effect that not only evokes the architectural and natural environments of Senegal, but also recalls its unique energy and speaks to the spirit of the country.
 
After being awarded the commission and having the chance to visit Dakar, Thomas thought about how to use the concept of cultural diplomacy to inspire her work.  Collaboration and inclusion were key to the project.  She felt strongly and responded favorably to the idea of collaboration.  She welcomed the idea of working with other artists, understanding the commission would be strengthened by collaborating with Senegalese artists.  She viewed this as an opportunity to create an artistic dialogue that represents the spirit of cross-cultural diplomacy. In the end, Thomas says, “This is a piece about the American and the Senegalese coming together.” Therefore, not only does her work evoke Senegal’s landscape and culture, it also literally includes the work of a Senegalese artist, Piniang, who contributed his abstracted drawings to sections of the mural.  The curator identified Piniang (Niang Ibrahima )as the second artist to collaborate with Thomas on the piece.  Thomas and Piniang worked for several months on the final version of the mural and ultimately, Stephen Miotto (fabricator) incorporated Piniang’s work into the mosaic.


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