Stillwater News Press

Arts & Entertainment

August 24, 2011

Panel discussion on Africa marks Oklahoma State University art gallery exhibit closing

STILLWATER, Okla. — A panel of Oklahoma State University faculty members and graduate students will discuss outreach programs in Africa at an OSU art gallery Thursday.

The panel discussion will take place in conjunction with the closing reception of “Building a Collection, The Larry W. and Mattie R. Harms Collection of African Art,” an exhibit of works by west African artists.

The exhibit highlights 250 pieces recently donated to the university by OSU alumnus Larry Harms and his wife, Mattie. The exhibit, which is on display at the Gardiner Art Gallery in OSU’s Bartlett Center for the Visual Arts, focuses primarily on art from the Bambara and Dogon, two ethnic groups native to the west African nation of Mali.

During the panel, Michael Morris, the head of OSU’s School of Entrepreneurship, and Michael Dicks, an OSU professor of agricultural economics, will discuss their departments’ work in Africa. OSU graduate students involved in Africa outreach programs will discuss their experiences.

Morris said he will be discussing Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa, a collaborative program operated by OSU’s Riata Center for Entrepreneurship, Texas A&M’s Mays Business School, the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business and the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa.

The program takes 25 students each year to South Africa to work with entrepreneurs in the historically disadvantaged township around Cape Town. The program is designed to help those entrepreneurs grow their businesses, Morris said.

During the program, Morris said, the students have worked with craftsmen and artisans who produce work much like that displayed in the exhibit. Although the program works in a different region of Africa from the one from which the artwork comes, Morris said works from the two areas are similar in that they reflect artistic style from a poverty-stricken region.

Dicks said he will be discussing projects in Africa with which he is involved. Dicks is involved in countries in South Africa, Sierra Leone, Togo, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. He will be discussing projects in four of those countries, he said.

Those projects include drilling water wells, developing irrigation for fruit and vegetable production, water filters, grain drying and storage facilities and egg operations. The projects include work with after-school programs, orphanages and universities, he said.

The project model includes working with local materials and local youth, Dicks said, allowing both the youth in the region and OSU students the chance to learn about solving issues surrounding water, food and education.

The panel discussion will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday in OSU’s Bartlett Center for the Visual Arts. Admission is free.

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