Feb. 9 events planned for ‘Soft Diplomacy’ exhibition at WCU Fine Art Museum

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Liberian women work on a new quilt. An exhibition of Liberian quilts will be on display at WCU’s Fine Art Museum through Friday, May 5, with associated events scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 9, and in March. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Beck Cohen)

Western Carolina University’s Fine Art Museum is presenting the exhibition “Soft Diplomacy: Quilting Cultural Diplomacy in Liberia,” with a reception, roundtable discussion and gallery talk scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 9.

Curated by Stephanie Beck Cohen, the exhibition explores quilts made in Liberia, West Africa, and presented as gifts across the Atlantic Ocean as part of cultural diplomacy with the U.S. During the 19th century, American settlers carried the artistic tradition of quilting to Liberia, and since then quilts have served as both an anchor to their American heritage and a medium through which Liberian women visualize their daily lives and their nation’s histories and present, said Jill Jacobs, marketing manager for WCU’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

“‘Soft Diplomacy’ demonstrates the strength, endurance and changing nature of textiles and the relationships between the women who make them, their patrons and collaborators,” Jacobs said.

Events on Feb. 9 include a roundtable discussion on “Africa, Cultural Exchange and Soft Diplomacy” from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., a gallery talk with Cohen from 5 to 6 p.m. and a reception from 6 to 7 p.m.

Two additional events are scheduled for March in conjunction with the exhibition, including an artist talk titled “Cultural Diplomacy, Why Art Matters” from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, and a curator talk on “Art in Embassies” from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Thursday, March 23.

All events are free and open to the public. The “Soft Diplomacy” exhibition will be on display through Friday, May 5.

WCU’s Fine Art Museum features four art galleries with exhibitions year-round and a 2,000-object collection of modern and contemporary art. The museum is located in the Bardo Arts Center, which also houses a performance hall and studio theater.

For more information, contact Jacobs at 828-227-2505 or jilljacobs@wcu.edu.