Alice Hope

Maputo, Mozambique 2018

"Cultural diplomacy is lasting. Its long term vision bridges communication and models global citizenship over time."

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American artist Alice Hope traveled to Maputo to conduct an artist exchange program in conjunction with research for a site-specific commission for the new U.S. Embassy in Mozambique. Her exchange included speaking engagements at local universities, as well as meetings with artists, curators, museum directors and art historians from Mozambique. Through these meetings, organized by Art in Embassies and the U.S. Embassy, Hope had the opportunity to learn more about Mozambican art traditions, practices, and influences. A meeting with Alda Costa, an art historian who had curated an exhibition at the University gallery, illustrated the complex ties and influences of trading, nomadism and colonization on Mozambican art, illustrating permeable boundaries in art and geography and providing important background information for the artist her research
Over the course of four days, Hope visited the many art institutions and venues across Maputo, including Franco-Moçambicano Cultural Center and the National Art Museum where she observed and learned about paintings by Malangatana Valente Ngwenya, a Mozambican painter and poet. The artist also met with artists at their studio and workshops, and had the chance to meet with Mozambican sculptor Alberto Chissano. Seeing the wood sculptures by the Makonde people was “especially inspiring, both in the materiality and in the variation. The wood’s hardness allows for carving detail and for spacious negative space, which fosters naturalism, dynamism, and complexity in the compositions.”

In an interview for the National Museum of Women in the Art’s Women to Watch exhibition, Hope explained that her practice is “informed by the layers and levels of seeing…research and dialogue also intensify my seeing.” As a result, the artist strongly identified and was inspired by the resourcefulness of the students she encountered at the Institute of Arts and Culture at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo. “Because of limited means,” she says, “[resourcefulness] becomes material in itself.” After her talk at the Institute, she enjoyed meeting and discussing art with the students, which became one of the highlights of the program and “I would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the University students in the future.”

Hope specifically called out the process transparency and community that she found to be a significant part of Mozambican art, from cooperative workshops to collectivist studio practices. She visited the Núcleo de Arte, an artist cooperative in Maputo, and talked with the artists and the director, establishing relationships that have continued since her return to the United States. “It is a life changing privilege to work within Art in Embassies mission and scope and the experience of cross cultural exchange will continue to be professional beneficial as the influences unfold.”