Goshen College hosts collaborative art exhibit about cultural diplomacy by visiting artist Tom Ashcraft, Jan. 21-March 14

Art Exhibit: “Du Quotidien,” by Eric Yake Kenagy Visiting Artist Tom Ashcraft (Jan. 21-March 14, 2024)
Visiting Artist Public Lecture and Reception: Tuesday, March 12, 7 p.m. (Music Center, Rieth Recital Hall)
Convocation: Wednesday, March 13, 10 a.m. (Church-Chapel)
Cost:Free and open to the public

Tom Ashcraft

GOSHEN, IND. — Goshen College will host the collaborative art exhibit, “Du Quotidien,” by Eric Yake Kenagy visiting artist Tom Ashcraft from Jan. 21 to March 14. The exhibit will explore the intersection of personal and social meaning through an exploration of objects and their owners.

On March 12-13, Ashcraft will be on campus. He will give an evening lecture on March 12 at 7 p.m. in the Music Center’s Rieth Recital Hall on “Navigating a Public Practice,” followed by an exhibit reception. And on March 13, he will speak on “Collaboration, Cooperation and Cultural Diplomacy” during convocation at 10 a.m. in the Church-Chapel.

Artwork in the exhibit takes on a metaphorical identity in the form of a modern passport.

“Du Quotidien” was created during collaborative sessions with Ashcraft, Max Hirshfeld (photographer), faculty, staff and students from the Studies in Arts and Cultures Program at Université Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger, and the School of Art and Design at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C.

The central question guiding the project was, “What does diplomacy look like?” This inquiry was particularly relevant as the artistic sessions aimed to foster dialogue and socialization, bringing together two distinct communities.

Drawing inspiration from the root of the word “diplomacy,” meaning “folded in two” and “an object,” the project takes on a metaphorical identity in the form of a modern passport.

A highlight of the project is a permanent 40-panel artwork installation in the U.S. Embassy in Niamey, showcasing the success of the cross-cultural collaboration initiated during the sessions.

The exhibit re-examines selected objects from the sessions, presenting them in a new context that reinforces their personal value and separates them from their original owners.

A pinecone from the exhibit.

Ashcraft, an artist and educator based in Asheville, N.C., has a practice rooted in building and participatory artwork.

Co-founding the Workingman Collective in 2005, Ashcraft has since collaborated with artists, architects, biologists and barbers. His work has been featured in exhibits across the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa, earning him prestigious awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Design Grant, Ford Foundation Fellowship and multiple Art in Embassies commissions for the U.S. Department of State.

The Eric Yake Kenagy Visiting Artist Program honors the late Eric Yake Kenagy, who was a gifted ceramics student at Goshen College from 1984 until his death in 1986.

About Eric Yake Kenagy

Eric Yake Kenagy

During his two years at Goshen College (1984-86), Eric distinguished himself as a gifted student of ceramics, an interest that began when he was a young child and developed during his high school years in Corvallis, Ore. He was exploring the possibility of advanced art studies at the time of his death. Eric left a legacy of beautiful pottery which provides us a glimpse of his potential and a hint of what might have been, had he lived long enough to mature artistically. Jack Troy, potter and art professor at Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pa., commented: “I can’t think of anyone who, at his age, was so accomplished as a potter — who integrated eye, hand and heart to imbue his work with such spirit.”

In this visiting artist program, Eric’s family and friends wish to celebrate the creativity Eric expressed in his too-short life, and to share with Goshen College and its friends events that will inspire others to develop their own creativity. Additional gifts to this memorial are welcome.