Original artwork.
“Imam Singer/Drummer” - 14 x 17 in. (36 x 43 cm), graphite on bristol.

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Imam Singer/Drummer

14x17 graphite on bristol.

In the village, there was a huge celebration one day honoring the chief 40 days after his death, as was the custom. The festival was interesting to me on many levels, not the least of which being that it was a display of the unique co-existence found here of traditional “animist” beliefs and Islamic practices. Muslims and non-Muslims gathered together to celebrate with music and dancing. In this drawing, an Imam leads a group of dancers in song, keeping time with the traditional tama drum (sometimes called the “talking” drum for its ability to “talk” as the player squeezes the drum to change its pitch).

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