About Wagué


BIOGRAPHY – Baba Wagué Diakité

Baba Wagué Diakité was born in 1961 in Bamako, Mali in West Africa.  His mother gave him her father’s name of “Wagué”, which means “A Man of Trust”.  He spent his early childhood with his grandmother in the village of Kassaro for his first education.  There, he tended his uncles’ sheep and helped in his grandmother’s rice and peanut fields.  His free time was spent with friends in the bush; catching lizards and protecting rice and peanut fields from birds and monkeys.

Later Wagué moved to Bamako to be with his mother and to get formal schooling.  He maintains his best education came from stories that were told him by his grandmother and mother about animals and the First People.

Wagué grew up drawing–first for his own pleasure, then for schoolwork and finally for part-time jobs.  He first learned claywork however, after meeting American artist Ronna Neuenschwander, and moving to Portland, Oregon in the US in 1985.  There, he began using clay as his canvas.

Wagué had his first solo exhibition in 1988 at the Jamison Thomas Gallery in Portland, Oregon and since has shown in group and solo shows throughout the United States.  His work has received critical acclaim in international magazines such as American Ceramics, Ceramics Monthly, African Arts, and AFRIQUE/Etats Unis.  He taught in the Oregon public school systems through the Art-in-Education, and the Young Audiences program from 1989-2007.  He has traveled throughout the U.S. for author visits and workshops, including the Museum of African Art at University of Iowa, the Holter Museum of Art in Montana, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Museum of African Art.  He has been commissioned to create poster designs for a number of city-wide art festivals, and was honored to be chosen to create the artworks for recipients of the 1990 Governor’s Arts Awards in Oregon.  In 2001, Wagué created an 84′ long mural and other artworks for Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando, Florida.   Baba Wagué Diakité is represented by Pulliam Gallery of Portland, OR.

Scholastic Press published Wagué’s first children’s book “The Hunterman and the Crocodile” in 1997.  It received a Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award.  His 2nd and 3rd children’s books entitled “The Hatseller and the Monkeys” and “The Magic Gourd” were published by Scholastic in 1999 and 2003 respectively. He has illustrated numerous children’s books including “The Pot of Wisdom” and “Jamari’s Drum” for Groundwood Books of Canada. Wague also illustrated a book written by his daughter, Penda Diakité, entitled “I Lost My Tooth in Africa” which was published in 2006 by Scholastic Press.  It won the Africana Book Award in 2007.  In March 2007, Groundwood Books published his 4th book, “Mee-An and the Magic Serpent”.  His most recent project is an autobiography, published in 2010 by Groundwood Books entitled “A Gift From Childhood: Memories of an African Boyhood”.  His childrens books have been published in numerous languages for worldwide distribution.

Wagué and his wife, artist Ronna Neuenschwander, have collaborated artistically on a number of projects, including an animated film by Jim Blashfield entitled “My Dinner With the Devil Snake”, an award-winning documentary film by William Donker of their lives entitled “Don’t Paint Lizards on my Wall”, and a number of public art projects.  They recently completed a large tile floor mosaic for the Serengeti Plaza at the Oregon Zoo. They continue to return to Mali with their two daughters bi-annually for extended stays.

Wagué is founder and director of the Ko-Falen Cultural Center in Bamako, Mali, which enables artists and travelers from other countries to live, meet, study and collaborate with artists of Mali.  The Ko-Falen Cultural Center encourages cross-cultural exchanges through art, dance, music and ceremony to promote a greater understanding and respect between people.  Ko-Falen also manages education programs for youth of artisans in Mali.  Visit www.ko-falen.org for more information.

BABA WAGUÉ DIAKITÉ                          babawaguediakite@yahoo.com


  • 2011 Pulliam Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2010 Balancing Moon and Earth, Northview Gallery, PCC Sylvania Campus, Portland, OR
  • 2009 Pulliam Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2008 Gadsden Arts Center, Quincy, FL
  • 2007 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2007 Animalities, Pacini Lubel Gallery, with R Neuenschwander Seattle, WA
  • 2006 New Sculpture, Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2005 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2005 Pacini Lubel Gallery, Seattle, WA
  • 2004 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2004 The Magic Gourd; Stories and Tales from Mali, West Africa, Holter Museum of Art, Helena Montana
  • 2003 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2002 Mami Wata, Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2001 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 2000 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1999 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1999 Baba Wague Diakite: African Folktales, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA
  • 1998 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1997 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1996 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1995 Wague’s Once-in-a-While Special Event, Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1995 The Way Back Home: Life as a Way of Art, Catlin Gabel School, Portland, OR
  • 1994 Wague’ Ka Ko Ba Ke` Ko Kelen-Kelen (Wague’s Once-In-A-While Special Event) Jamison/Thomas Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1993 Wague’ Ka Ko Ba Ke` Ko Kelen-Kelen, Jamison/Thomas Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1992 Wague’ Ka Ko Ba Ke` Ko Kelen-Kelen, Jamison/Thomas Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1992 Don-Baw, Jamison/Thomas Gallery, New York, NY
  • 1991 Don-Ba Day, Jamison/Thomas Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1990 Don-Ba!!!, Jamison/Thomas Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1989 High Tea With Wague, Jamison/Thomas Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1988 Contemporary Crafts Gallery, Portland, OR
  • 1988 High Tea With Wague, Jamison/Thomas Gallery, Portland, OR


  • 2004 Baba Wague Diakite and Ronna Neuenschwander, Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, Portland, OR
  • 2004 Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2004 Mali: The Empire, Peninsula Fine Arts Center, Newport News, VA
  • 2003 Children’s Books, 2003 in conjunction w/NYPL’s “100 Books for Reading and Sharing 2003”, New York
  • Public Library, Central Children’s Room, New York, NY
  • 2003 A Language of Pattern, McLean Project for the Arts, McLean, VA
  • 2000 Renewing Tradition: Bogolan in Mali and Abroad, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA
  • 2000 Art of the African Diaspora: Influence & Confluence, Chemeketa Com Col, Salem,OR
  • 1995 Animal Image Show, Cannon Beach Art Assoc. Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR
  • 1994 Public Encounters, Bush Barn Art Center, Salem,OR
  • 1994 Society for Contemporary Crafts, Philadelphia, PA
  • 1993 Art: Transcending Barriers, Forum `93, Vollum Center, Reed College, Portland, OR
  • 1993 Crosscut, Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
  • 1993 One World: Traditional Root/Cultural Wings,Artquake, Portland,OR
  • 1993 3 Dimensions X 5, Corvallis Arts Center, Corvallis, OR
  • 1992 Spirit of the West, Traveling Exhibition sponsored by West One Bank
  • 1990 International Tea Art Exhibition, Contemporary Crafts Gallery
  • 1990 A Tea Party, Faith Nightingale Gallery, San Diego, CA
  • 1989 Animal Imagery, Susan Cummins Gallery, Mill Valley, CA
  • 1988 Susan Cummins Gallery, Mill Valley, CA


  • 2012 Pedestrian Parkway Mural, N Precinct Police Station, Portland, OR; 6’h x 40’w painted mural through Regional Arts & Culture Council
  • 2009 The Oregon Zoo, Portland, OR; a 20’ x 20’ ceramic mosaic in the Serengeti Plaza exhibit, in collaboration with artist Ronna Neuenschwander.
  • 2006 Musicians’ Union Mural, Portland, OR in collaboration with 3 other mural artists. Each artist painted a 25’ h x 20’ w portion of Union Building exterior wall.
  • 2005 Jackson Middle School, Portland, OR “River of Life” 5′ h x 27′ w bas relief mural, in collaboration with artist Ronna Neuenschwander and 6th grade students. Incorporates acrylic painting, ceramic bas reliefs and mixed media mosaic of World History from Early man to 21st Century.
  • 2000-01 Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando,FL. One 6′ h x 84′ l painted mural for restaurant. Five 6′ dia. and one 12′ dia. bronze medallions inlaid in floor of the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
  • 1998 The Oregon Zoo, Portland, OR; a 6′ x 8′ Mural consisting of sandblasted slate and tile mosaic installed in walkway at the new entrance of zoo
  • 1997 West International House Plaza, Oregon State University; Corvallis,OR through Oregon Arts Commission Per Cent For Art Program. Fifty two 1′ h x1′ w ceramic tile murals integrated into outdoor columns along covered walkway depicting images from various cultures around the world.
  • 1994-95 Portland Community College, Cascade Campus: Painted Mural for Terrell Hall Auditorium
  • 1993-95 North Precinct Police Station: Outdoor art for the Pedestrian Park; Portland, OR. Includes an 8’h x 50′ l painted mural, painted tiles for pool seating area, painted tiles for 30 pilasters, 30 mosaics for seating areas, brick design images in pavement, 2 concrete sculptures for fountain.
  • 1991 Southern Oregon State College, Ashland, OR. Eight painted and cut-out masonite fantasy creatures varying in size from 2’x4′ to 8’x3′, mounted in entryway of Day Care Center.
  • 1990-91 Tropical Rain Forest Exhibit Installation: Commissioned by Washington Park Zoo, Portland, OR; through Oregon Percent for the Arts Program. Four concrete low relief sculptures; one 5’x 5′, one 3’x4′, one 3’x3′, one 2’x4′, integrally installed in gunite walls. Seven small hand embossed sculptures integrated into gunnite walls. One 6 1/2’h x 30’l hand embossed wall in gunnite.
  • 1990 Governor’s Arts Awards: Commissioned by Oregon Arts Commission. Five 14″ diameter platters for five award recipients and one low relief sculptured 12′ diameter bowl for sightless award recipient.
  • 1990 Appreciation Award: Commissioned by Oregon Advocates for the Arts. One 14″ diameter platter for Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt to be presented at Governor’s Art Awards.
  • 1989 “My Dinner With the Devil Snake”, animated and live action video commissioned by PBS’s Alive From Off Center program. Collaborated on story line, acted, created pottery to be animated. In conjunction with filmmakers Jim Blashfield and Joan Gratz, and artist Ronna Neuenschwander.

BOOKS by Diakite

  • 2010 A Gift From Childhood: Memories of an African Boyhood, written and illustrated by BW Diakite, Groundwood Books
  • 2007 Mee-An and the Magic Serpent, written and illustrated by BW Diakite, Groundwood Books
  • 2006 I Lost My Tooth In Africa, by Penda Diakite, illustrated by B W Diakite, Scholastic Press
  • 2004 Jamari’s Drum, by Eboni Bynum and Roland Jackson, illustrated by BW Diakite, Groundwood Books
  • 2003 The Magic Gourd, written and illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite, Scholastic Press (2004 Africana Book Award, Aesop Prize)
  • 2001 The Pot of Wisdom, by Adwoa Badoe, Illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite, Groundwood Books
  • 1999 The Hatseller and the Monkeys, written and illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite, Scholastic Inc (1999 Aesop Accolade)
  • 1997 The Hunterman and the Crocodile, written and illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite, Scholastic Inc, (1998 Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award)


  • 2007 Mali in Pictures, Visual Geography Series, Chapter on “Cultural Life: Literature/ BW Diakite”, p 52, Lerner Publications Co.
  • 2006 Helena Independent Record, YourTime mag, “Words and Clay” by Emily Donahoe, pp.8, 16.
  • 2005 Storyworks, Feb/March, “An African Boyhood”, by BW Diakite, pp14-17.
  • 2001 African Arts, summer, vol. XXXIV No. 2, “Baba Wague Diakite” portfolio by Victoria Rovine, pp.64-71
  • 1997 The Sunday Oregonian, Arts & Books, April 27, “Baba Wague Diakite:Out of Africa” by Randy Gragg
  • 1995 AFRIQUE/Etats-Unis, 3-`95, No 829, “Un Ceramiste Malien dans l’Oregon”, pp.14-15.
  • 1994 Ceramics Monthly, Dec, Vol 42, No 10, “Baba Wague Diakite: From Mali to Oregon,” by Peter Held
  • 1994 Downtowner, June 13, “BABA WAGUE: Ancient Messages Come Alive” by Lance Sparks, pp.9-10.
  • 1994 Art & Antiques, Nov issue, Vol 17, No 9, p.40.
  • 1993 Landscape Architecture, Feb issue, Vol 83, No 2, “Is Public Art Passe’?” by Randy Gragg, pp.58-61.
  • 1992 The Oregonian, Sept.11, “From Ceramic to Print, Artist Tells A Whopper” by Joel Weinstein
  • 1992 Northwest Living, The Sunday Oregonian, Nov. 24, 1992, “Out of Africa” by Helen Mershon
  • 1990 The Oregonian, Dec. 28, 1990, “Hands Bond Generations”, front page
  • Northwest Magazine, June 24,”Tropics Under Glass” by Andee Hochman
  • Northwest Gallery, March/April issue, Vol2, No 2, “Ronna Neuenschwander and Baba Wague Diakite” by Lois Allen, pp. 12-15
  • 1987 Premier, Aug/Sept issue, “Love Story in Clay” by Eric Stone, pp.16-18.


  • University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA
  • Oregon State University West International House, Corvallis, OR
  • University of Oregon Library, Eugene, OR
  • Childrens Art Museum, San Diego, CA
  • University of Washington Hospital, Seattle, WA
  • Lloyd Center Complex, Portland, OR
  • Washington Park Zoo, Portland, OR
  • Portland Community College, Portland, OR
  • Artquake, Portland, OR
  • Kaiser Permanente, Portland, OR
  • Harborview Medical Center Cultural Heritage Center, Seattle, WA


  • US Dept of State, American Embassy, Cultural Affairs, Bamako, Mali
  • American International School, Bamako, Mali
  • Smithsonian’s African Art Museum, Washington, DC
  • Clark University, Arts Council of the African Studies Assoc, Worcester. MA
  • Northwest African American Museum, Seattle, WA
  • Univ of Wisconsin-Madison, African Art Dept & Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI
  • Nat’l Black Arts Festival, Atlanta, GA
  • Idaho State Univ/ College of Education, Pocatello, ID
  • Holter Museum of Art, Helena MT
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, LA, CA
  • Craft and Folk Art Museum, LA, CA
  • Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, CA
  • Willamette University, Salem, OR
  • Black United Fund of OR, Portland, OR
  • Oregon Zoo, Portland, OR
  • The Earth and Spirit Council Natural Way,
  • Indigenous Voices Speaker Series, Portland, OR


  • 2013 Professional Development Grant from Regional Arts and Culture Council, Portland, OR
  • Award for promoting Malian Culture in the U.S. from His Excellency Abdoulaye Diop, Ambassador of Mali to the United States
  • Cultural Ambassador Award for Creative Excellence as an Artist and Educator. Holter Museum of Art, Helena, MT
  • Certificate of Appreciation, in recognition for dedication for furthering international understanding through the language of Art, Office of the Mayor, Helena, MT
  • Coretta Scott King Book Award for Illustration for “The Hunterman and the Crocodile” by BW Diakite
  • Africana Book Award for Children, honor book for “The Magic Gourd”, by Baba Wague Diakite
  • Africana Book Award for Children, for “I Lost My Tooth in Africa” illustrated by BW Diakite
  • Storytelling World Award, for “The Magic Gourd”, by Baba Wague Diakite
  • Parent Guide to Children Media Award for “The Magic Gourd”, by Baba Wague Diakite
  • Aesop Accolade, for “The Hatseller and the Monkeys”, “The Magic Gourd”, by Baba Wague Diakite
  • 2002 Emerald Award for Dedication & Commitment to the Arts, Zeta Sigma Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc
  • InterCom Silver Plaque Award at International Film and Video Festival for Wague and Ronna by William Donker


  • 2013 Monthlong stay in Mali to conduct interviews and document traditional storytellers and griot oral historians.
  • 2007-present Executive Director of nonprofit Ko-Falen Cultural Center in BKO, Mali and Portland, OR. Implemented four ongoing programs for Malian youth in Bamako and outlying villages, includes providing public school fee payments, tutoring, school supplies and Youth Association projects. During annual 2-month stays, coordinate and conduct art workshops and exchanges, hiring Malian artists to work with U.S. participants in Bamako, Mali.
  • 2006 International Ceramic Residency at the Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT
  • 2006 2-month stay in Mali to finish construction of the Ko-Falen Cultural Center (Formerly Toguna Cultural Center)
  • 2005 2-month stay in Mali to continue construction of Toguna Cultural Center
  • 2004 2-month stay in Mali to continue construction of Toguna Cultural Center, traveled to village of Soni Tieni to present books and educational supplies for their school; funds raised by Toguna Cultural Center and Jackson Middle School in Portland, OR. Attended Masked Dance Ceremony in Soni Tieni in honor of gift exchange.
  • 2002 2-month stay in Mali, West Africa; travelled up Niger River to Tombouctou. Interviewed M. Abdel Kader of the Mamma Haidara Library which houses manuscripts on astronomy, history, mathematics, medicine, theology dating back to the 12th century. Continued construction of Toguna Cultural Center in BKO.
  • 2000 2-month stay in Mali, West Africa; purchased land and began construction of international artist exchange center (Toguna Cultural Center), which offers living and studio spaces for artists from other countries to study and collaborate w/Malian artists
  • Contracted with the U.S. Embassy’s American Cultural Center to travel to Mopti and Dogon regions to share clay techniques and imagery with women’s pottery cooperative and the Mopti orphanage Centre Ladiya
  • 1998 2-month stay in Mali, West Africa; was introduced to Groupe Kassobane, bogolanfini artist cooperative
  • 1997 4-month stay in Mali, West Africa; practiced bogolanfini techniques and produced numerous painted and stenciled mudcloth tapestries with artist Alou Traore
  • 1994 3-month stay in Mali, West Africa; practiced bogolanfini techniques
  • 1991 3-month stay in Mali, West Africa; was liaison for Americans working with Ballet Nationale du Mali, practiced bogolanfini techniques
  • 1989 3-month stay in Mali, West Africa; purchased land and built Malian Family home in Bamako, Mali
  • 1987 6-month stay in West Africa; studied pottery of Mafin Kante in Bamako, Mali; worked with the Doumbia Family of Potters in Kita, Mali; learned mudcloth techniques from Penda Diakite in Bamako, Mali; traveled throughout Mali, Gambia, Senegal to document West African traditional and contemporary architecture and pottery.



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