The ReCollecting Dogon exhibition and digital publication projects embody the work of many dedicated and talented people. The exhibition idea was first developed with former Menil director Josef Helfenstein, it took root under interim director Thomas Rhoads, and was realized with the new leadership of Rebecca Rabinow. I thank each of them for their unwavering confidence in the project.
Original research on the Menil’s collection of art from Africa by Leon Siroto and former Menil curator Kristina Van Dyke was an important foundation for the development of this exhibition project. I am very grateful to Enid Schildkrout, Kate Ezra, and Polly Richards for their formative conversations and encouragement in its development. I extend my immense gratitude to Director Samuel Sidibé and the staff at the Musée National du Mali in Bamako for their collaboration and significant assistance with the always tricky logistics of international loans. The expertise and enthusiasm of Amanda Thompson, and the institutional support of The Africa Center in New York, were likewise vital. Thank you. In many ways ReCollecting Dogon reaffirms the important relationship and history between two Houston art institutions. I am thankful to Director Gary Tinterow, Frances Marzio, Chelsea Dacus, and the staff at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) for their support of the exhibition. Coming to know Francesco Pellizzi over the last two years has been a true pleasure; I greatly appreciate our conversations on visual culture from around the world and his profound understanding of the de Menils’ humanist vision. I thank him and his daughter Aurora for their generous loans to the exhibition. I also thank Aude Julien-Da Cruz Lima and the Centre de Recherche en Ethnomusicologie (CREM) in Nanterre, France, for providing digital copies of André Schaeffner’s original 1930s field recordings of Dogon music from the Bandiagara region.
Numerous people have made my work in Mali possible and enriching. Aw ye ne bonya, aw ni ce! Dr. Ibrahim Coulibaly and Madina Sanogo, thank you for boundless hospitality. Jaimie Bleck, Idrissa Sidibé, Sékou Ogobara Dolo, Janet Goldner, and Igo Diarra thank you for your generous friendship. I am also grateful to Public Affairs Officer Stephen Kochuba and the United States Embassy in Mali for their support. Three artists from Mali completed the historical-to-contemporary narrative arc of ReCollecting Dogon. Amahigueré Dolo and Alaye Kene Témé (Alaye Kene Atô), thank you for your artistic vision. Souleymane Ouologuem, artist and master of making seemingly impossible things possible, I am incredibly grateful to you for your friendship and collaboration. Awn bèna nyògònye sòòni!
This publication is the realization of uncompromisingly creative people. Joseph N. Newland and Rebecca Ahrens, thank you for initiating a digital publication project and, with the discerning eyes of Sarah E. Robinson, shepherding the project to completion. The contributors Huib Blom, Paul Chandler, Sérou Dolo, Isaïe Dougnon, Jessica Hurd, Éric Jolly, and Polly Richards intimately know the Bandiagara region and possess deep reservoirs of knowledge about the complex histories of Dogon peoples. I am humbled to have the opportunity to work with such impressive and committed scholars. Marina Harss and African art historian Anne-Marie Bouttiaux provided valuable expertise and meticulously translated texts into English and French, respectively, to make this digital publication bilingual; thanks also to Eric Ghysels. As with all beautiful Menil Online Features, the design was achieved in collaboration with Tamara Maletic, Dan Michaelson, and the staff at Linked by Air.
The Menil is replete with exceptional colleagues, and I am fortunate to work with and learn from them. No exhibition at the museum happens without their significant contributions. The sensitive and stunning installation designs of Brooke Stroud and Eric Zimmerman are unmatched. Eric’s artistry was instrumental to my vision of translating the landscape and architecture of the Bandiagara into the gallery space. Thank you for your friendship and compelling ways of thinking with art, display, and light. The works on display in the exhibition are there through the good offices of Menil staff in Collection Management and Conservation. Heather Schweikhardt and David Aylsworth diligently coordinated complicated international and national loans. Kari Dodson, thank you for your enthusiastic and valuable contributions to the project and your unending patience with my constant requests. Grace Walters, I will forever think of you with a smile when reading Marcel Griaule’s Dieu d’Eau. Tony Rubio, I am indebted to you for the ingenuity you brought to the project and to the Menil Art Services team for all their hard work. David Aylsworth, Anthony Flores, Margaret McKee, and Julie Thies made essential, behind-the-scenes contributions to the project. Paul Hester photographed works in the collection as well as the installation, Adam Neese expertly framed all the works on paper, and Frances Trahan of the MFAH made striking but virtually invisible mounts to showcase the masks. Sally Glass, Paul Forsythe, and Don Quaintance were instrumental in realizing the additional project of creating postcards to sell for the benefit of people living in the Bandiagara.
The exhibition is funded in part by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. I especially thank Consular General Sujiro Seam, Cultural Attaché Sylvie Christophe, and the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Houston for the additional support of the exhibition. Finally, I am grateful to Clare Casademont and Michael Metz, Janet and Paul Hobby, Susan and Francois de Menil, Franci Neely, and the City of Houston for their significant contributions to making the exhibition a reality.
Paul R. Davis
© 2017 Menil Foundation, Inc.