Original artwork.
“Woman with Mortar and Pestle” - 11 x 14 in. (28 x 36 cm), graphite on bristol.

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Woman with Mortar and Pestle

11x14 graphite on bristol.

In West Africa, the mortar and pestle is an essential component of daily life. It is used to pulverize ingredients like cassava, hot pepper, and various herbs and spices used in traditional cuisine. The rhythmic sound of the mortar and pestle can be heard from sun up to sundown throughout the village! Women working together on multiple mortars often use the pounding sound to create deliberate poly-rhythms by opposing their motions, and sing while working.

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