Original artwork.
“Dembadon I: the Sangbanfola” - 19 x 24 in. (48 x 61 cm), graphite on bristol.

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Dembadon I: the Sangbanfola

19x24 graphite on bristol.

The Dembadon is a pre-marriage festival for the bride-to-be that is quite common in Conakry, Guinea, accompanied by much drumming, singing, and dance. “Sangban” is the name of the drum played by the man pictured here, and sangbanfola means “one who makes the sangban speak”, and is a compliment to the abilities of the player.

Dembadon festivals are an important part of how musicians in the city earn an income playing traditional music. The musicians are fed before the event, and during the festivities, money is thrown at or placed on the drummers and dancers, and is then collected to be split up equally by all the musicians.

Drawing on Culture

An Artist’s West Africa Travelogue


In Drawing on Culture, Kobrenski shares his artwork, stories, and insights about culture and worldviews with the keen eye of an anthropologist so that we might, in turn, see our own cultural worldview with new eyes.

More than thirty new artworks from his time in Guinea are compiled here alongside his own field notes and essays. His portrait drawings inspire conversations about diversity, tradition, and why ancient ways of knowing are now more relevant than ever.

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“Dave Kobrenski is a gifted artist and musician, and a better anthropologist than many of the PhDs I know. Here is a fine text that depicts people as they are, illustrates their essence, and demonstrates the importance of appreciating, without appropriating, their lives and ways of being.”

Katherine Donahue, Ph.D, Professor Emerita, Anthropology