The North Summit Elementary School is hosting "Faces of Mali," a Utah Arts & Museums Traveling Exhibition featuring photographs of village life in western Africa.

Faces of Mali will be exhibited at the school, 240 S. Beacon Drive, Coalville through May 23rd.

During that time, children in grades 1-4 will learn about the cultural anthropology of Mali its art, religion, agriculture, architecture, and etiquette in classroom sessions led by local Humanities Scholar Lola Beatlebrox who visited Mali in 2011.

"Mali is famous for its elaborate mosques built from mud and its Dogon Country, known as the sister state to Utah because of its rocky outcroppings and cliff dwellings," said Beatlebrox.

Architecture in the Dogon Country includes distinctive thatched-roof granaries where men and women store their grain separately the men for the family to eat right away and the women for the family to save for the rainy season when this store becomes the family's sole food supply, she continued.

"Children will learn about etiquette and greetings which honor every member of the family and last a long time compared to American salutations," Beatlebrox said. "They will learn about the Tuareg tribes of the Sahara Desert who ride on camels, hold camel races and live in tents in the desert."

This program has received funding from the Utah Humanities Council which promotes understanding of diverse traditions, values, and ideas through informed public discussion.


The images of Mali in the traveling exhibit were captured by Edgar Gomez-Palmieri and Yeah Samake during recent working visits. Gomez-Palmieri is director of international outreach and fieldwork for Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. Samake is Malian honorary consul in Utah; mayor of Ouelessebougou (way-lay-suh-boo-goo), a city in southwest Mali; and president of Mali Rising Foundation, a Sandy-based organization that built five village-owned and operated schools.

"The people of rural Mali have a culture that is rich in tradition and history and it is delightful that people all over Utah will be able to enjoy this photo essay," said Samake. "Many Utahns already have a positive connection with Malians by helping us explore and record our ancestry, build schools and better educate our children."

For five years SMGF has been collecting DNA and family history information from Malians in the process of creating the world's largest repository of correlated genetic genealogical information. Sandy-based Mali Rising Foundation helps Mali villages develop clean water sources, improve sanitation and build schools.

Mali has a population of 13 million today and is one of the world's poorest countries, ranking 174 of 175 in measures of wealth.

The Faces of Mali exhibit is sponsored by Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and Mali Rising, two Utah-based non-profit organizations, and the Embassy of Mali. The Utah Arts Council traveling exhibits are a statewide outreach program that provides schools, museums, libraries, and community galleries with the opportunity to bring curated exhibitions to their community.