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Williams College

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Senegal: National Identity and the Arts


Bronze sculpture is an art form that, while it did not originate in Senegal, has been a part of the culture for centuries. Unfortunately, since the number of people producing it is so much smaller than for other media, a great deal of the market for bronze, and its support, has come from Westerners. Although there is broad difference between foreign buyers commissioning pieces and tourists buying from small shops in Dakar, both groups have historically impacted the bronze trade. For my project, I sought to learn more about the production of bronze sculpture through creating my own pieces in Issa K. Diop’s studio in the Village des Arts, and interviewing a wide spectrum of Senegalese people. The latter research method also facilitated my investigation of the effects that the foreign sector of the market has had on the subject choice, production style, and local perception of bronze. To what extent have foreign buyers altered the development of the bronze art trade, and has their financial support been more positive or negative? By conducting this research, I hoped to better understand the complex tension in bronze sculptors’ work between respect for Senegalese history and wariness of presenting, to the global market, an image of a stereotyped, antiquated nation.


Art and Design


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