The State Department’s role is diplomacy. At its heart, that means making people-to-people connections, and sharing elements of our culture with others, to achieve mutual understanding and friendship. Art can be a powerful channel for such connections, and it is an area where spouses can take an active role.
Throughout my postings abroad, I have been grateful to the housing committee to get living space with enough room to set up an art studio, so I was able to follow my muse at home (especially during the pandemic lockdowns). As I got to know each post, I saw things that inspired me — the people, the landscapes, the fashions, the foods. All of these elements influenced my work.
Often, our host cities will have social networks we can join as expats. In Tashkent, it was the Tashkent Women’s International Group (TWIG). I volunteered to be the coordinator for their Art Club, where I met both expat and host country artists. Through that network, I got to know local gallery owners, and was able to put on exhibitions of my work. The techniques I used were unfamiliar to the local art community, giving local artists something new to experience.
On November 9, AAFSW organized an outing to an exhibition at the MosaicArts Gallery in Fairfax, VA. Some of the works I made in Uzbekistan were on display there, bringing Central Asian themes back with me to give viewers here something new to experience.
Pursuing art while overseas has been an enriching personal journey for me, giving me much to look forward to every day, and helping me connect with like minded friends in my host countries.
By Andrea Salzman