The Pale Fox, Yapilou: The Art of the Dogon Smith Opening May 7 at the Karl Drerup Art Gallery

April 15th, 2013 by Elizabeth

Spear Sculpture

Exhibition Coincides with May 7 Lecture on Dogon Culture by Professor Hans Guggenheim

Plymouth, N.H. — An exhibition on the art of the Dogon Smith peoples of the Western African nation of Mali will be displayed May 7-17 in the special collections room at the Karl Drerup Art Gallery in the Draper and Maynard Building at Plymouth State University. The exhibition will open at 6 p.m. on May 7.

The exhibition coincides with a lecture on the Dogon culture by Professor Hans Guggenheim at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, in the Smith Recital Hall at the Silver Center for the Arts. There is no charge for admission to either event.

Dogon art is primarily a sculptural expression, largely figurative in subject matter. The themes are based on religious subjects and cultural attributes. Interestingly, such works are kept in the privacy of family homes, largely in secret. Perhaps this is due to the symbolic and ceremonial nature of the work. The Dogon learned early on to work with iron, which adds a complex medium to the strength of the artists’ visions.

The exhibition presents a selection of Dogon art objects made of iron, wood and clay collected by Professor Hans Guggenheim on study missions to Mali. Guggenheim was associate professor of anthropology at MIT and visiting scholar at The Center for International Affairs at Harvard, where he worked on an evaluation of the contributions of UNESCO to the art and culture of traditional societies. An advocate for the arts and education, Guggenheim founded Project Guggenheim in 1997, which provides art programming for young people and students in remote regions around the world.


The Dogon people are quite singular in West African culture in that they have resisted conversion to Islam and Christianity, maintaining their theocratic system based around the ancestor spirit, Nommo. Their architecture is extraordinary and unique and their art works are integral with the Dogon way of life, depicting or embodying various concepts in functional and ceremonial sculptures and paintings.

The Karl Drerup Art Gallery is open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m.–8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 1–4 p.m.

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