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Soft Diplomacy

Soft Diplomacy


January 17 – May 5, 2017

Reception: February 9 from 5-7pm

Curated by Dr. Stephanie Beck Cohen, Soft Diplomacy explores quilts made in Liberia, West Africa, and gifted across the Atlantic Ocean as part of cultural diplomacy with the United States. During the nineteenth century, American settlers carried this artistic tradition to Liberia. In the centuries that followed, quilts 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.

Soft Diplomacy demonstrates the strength, endurance, and changing nature of textiles and the relationships between the women who make them, their patrons, and collaborators. The exhibition brings together Liberian quilts used in political exchange, depicting political and national themes for the first time, highlighting the works of Liberian women from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who shaped representations of their nation and visualized cultural memory and trauma before, during and after Liberia’s civil war.

Soft Diplomacy

Quilt featured in the upcoming Soft Diplomacy exhibition



Africa, Cultural Exchange and Soft Diplomacy | Panel Discussion 

Thursday February 9 at 3:30 – 4:30pm, WCU Fine Art Museum at Bardo Arts Center

Saheed Aderinto, Ph.D., WCU Associate Professor, Department of History 
Stephanie Beck Cohen, Stephanie Beck Cohen, Ph.D., Guest Curator, Soft Diplomacy 
Jennifer Schiff, Ph.D., WCU Associate Professor & Director of International Studies, Department of Political Science & Public Affairs

Gallery Talk w/ Guest Curator Stephanie Beck Cohen

Thursday, February 9 from 5:00 – 6:00pm in WCU Fine Art Museum at Bardo Arts Center

Exhibition Reception

Thursday, February 9 from 6 – 7pm Star Atrium at Bardo Arts Center


Wandering into Cultural Diplomacy, Why Art Matters | Artist Talk 

Wednesday March 22, 4:00 – 5:30pm | Room 130 Bardo Arts Center


Tom Ashcraft, WCU Professor of Art, Director MFA Program, Workingman Collective Founding Member
Peter Winant, Director of the George Mason School of Art, Fairfax VA, Workingman Collective Founding Member
Sarah Tanguy, Curator U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies Program and Independent Curator

Workingman Collective is a collaborative group of art/design practitioners and revolving cast of professionals based in Washington, D.C. and North Carolina. Workingman Collective has exhibited work and created projects in the U.S., Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. 

Sarah Tanguy is an independent curator and arts writer, as well as a curator for Art in Embassies (AIE), U.S. Department of State, in Washington, DC. Since 1983, Tanguy has developed over a hundred and fifty exhibitions. 


Building Bridges Creating Dialogues  | Curator Talk

Thursday, March 23, 2017 from 3:30 - 4:45pm | Room 130 Bardo Arts Center 

Sarah Tanguy, Curator U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies Program

For five decades, Art in Embassies (AIE) has played a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy through a focused mission of vital cross-cultural dialogue and understanding through the visual arts and dynamic artist exchange. In this talk learn how the Art in Embassies program engages, educates, and inspires global audiences, showing how art can transcend national borders and build connections among peoples.

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