Since Janet’s Fulbright research days in 1994-5, she had wanted to work with Malian women artists. In 2003, Janet arrived in Mali to find a group of women artists, Sira Sissoko, Tary Keita, and Assita Dao in the process of forming the Association of Women Artists of Mali. They asked her to help them fund the inaugural exhibition for the group.
The three artists are graduates of the Institute National des Arts (L’INA) in Bamako and committed to continuing to make art. It is difficult for women in Mali to continue as artists for much the same reasons it is difficult for women artists everywhere. There is a lack of support for women’s artistic production in the culture at large and women have many domestic responsibilities.
They needed support to produce a beautiful, well publicized exhibition which will establish the existence of the Assn, encourage other women to join and continue to produce artwork. Janet launched a pre-Kickstarter appeal through her own network. The following year Janet returned to Mali with necessary funds. The exhibition took place in December 2004 at a beautiful space gallery in Bamako and was well received.