Family Day at the Dorsky

This past Sunday, Feb. 25, the Dorsky was flooded with happy kids and upbeat African rhythms. This event was a part of the museum’s series of Family Days, which focus on introducing children to the arts in an interactive and engaging way.

On Sunday, the Dorsky welcomed Amadou Diallo, a renowned drummer from Senegal, to perform in conjunction with the “Abstract Minded” exhibit. The exhibit is a showcase of African surrealist art curated by Osi Audu.

When walking into this exhibit, one feels a great sense of warmth. Each work conveys a unique sense of jubilance, radiating bright colors, jagged shapes and a wide variety of materials. 

At first, the attendees wandered around, exploring the art for themselves. There is a great deal of work to check out, as this exhibit showcases work by six different African artists. 

Soon, the chaos coalesced into one group to begin the program. 

 “Has anybody ever heard a painting before?” Zachary Bowman, the museum’s Manager of Education and Visitor Experience, asked the dozens of eager kids. “If these paintings were songs, what would they sound like?”

Bowman led the children in analyzing the art, by noting each piece’s different characteristics (shape, form, medium) and each artist’s style in terms that they could understand. 

“This is the most people we’ve ever had at a family day!” Bowman exclaimed. 

Following this adorable analysis of the artworks, Bowman turned the show over to Diallo, who engaged the kids (and a great deal of cheerful parents and grandparents) in an interactive drum performance.

This performance helped teach them about the different kinds of drums that are popular in Senegal, as well as their cultural significance. 

Diallo was joined by a friend, also from Senegal, Mustafa, who aided him in getting the kids pumped up and excited about drumming. 

Diallo and Mustafa shocked the children by dropping the fact that they know seven languages.

In particular, Diallo and Mustafa talked to the kids about the importance of drumming in Senegalese and broader African culture. 

“Drumming allows us to carry our culture everywhere we go.” Diallo said. “Music is everything, culture is everything.”

Soon after, Diallo and the children flooded the room with rhythm. Small shaker instruments were passed around, with even older attendees joining in with bells and shakers. He really showcased how music brings people of all ages together. 

It was heartwarming to see children from the community engaging in the arts with such eagerness. 

In addition to teaching kids about the exhibit and African culture, Diallo and Bowman focused on important moral lessons, such as sharing and teamwork. Also, kids really love drums.

The Dorsky will host two more Family Days this semester. Each event will be centered around one of the new spring exhibits. 

“Stephen Holl: Making Architecture” will have a Family Day on April 29, and “Marking Time: Andy Warhol’s Vision of Celebrations, Commemorations and Anniversaries” will host one on May 13.