Original artwork.
“La Grand-Mère” - 14 x 17 in. (36 x 43 cm), graphite on bristol.

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La Grand-Mère

14x17 graphite on bristol.

In the mornings, when the village was bathed in a soft golden light and the air was still cool, I would go walking down the dusty paths that led between the clusters of small round huts. Since greetings are so important to the Malinké, it was a good opportunity for me to practice my Mandi’nka language skills — saying ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’ and ‘how did you sleep’ and ‘how is your health’ and on and on, to everyone I met! This woman was so delighted to see a foreigner speaking to her in her own language that she lit up with joy. She was quite a radiant human being.

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