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Former WSU Basketball Player To Showcase Collection Of African Art

Mohamed Sharif stands with pieces in his collection of African art. He will participate in a black art show at Wichita State University this weekend.

The Art That Touches Your Heart Foundation and Wichita State University's Office of Diversity and Inclusion will host a black art show on campus Friday night and Saturday. Among the artists participating is former WSU basketball star Mohamed Sharif-- then known as Kelly Pete. KMUW's Carla Eckels spoke to Sharif about his art collection and his fond memories of his Shocker basketball days in the '60s.

Some highlights from the interview:

Carla Eckels: How did you go from playing ball to getting into art?

Mohamed Sharif: Well, you know, art and history has always been an interest to me. I can remember as a kid the first book that I saw, one of the first images that evoked my interest was the first time I saw a pyramid. When I saw that pyramid it just really kind of blew my mind and it kind of stuck with me and Africa has always been an interest to me.

What you are going to do to set up some artifacts at the WSU exhibit?

My contribution will be bringing some examples of traditional African artifacts from different countries--from Nigeria, from Ghana, from Mali, from Ivory Coast. Countries in the western part of Africa is where the African-Americans basically came from so these examples of artifacts I will be bringing will be examples from those groups of people and tribes. [The artifacts] will represent some of the historical, artistic traditional pieces that were used, whether they were utilitarian, whether it was a stool to sit on, whether it’s a dance mask, whether it’s a figure, whether it’s a textile, a piece of fabric that was used for a purpose.

There is so much value in learning the history behind a piece for sure. What can people expect when they come to your booth and see the artifacts you plan to present?

What I want people, especially younger people, to get from the experience is to not only enjoy the beauty the aesthetics of the work, but also I hope it invokes the interest of going to Africa and learning what the potential of being a part of the future of what Africa and the culture of Africa will present for the world in the millennium that we live in. It is a great, rich history and we have a great future if individuals are inspired to use their knowledge and their talent and their education and go in and share the experiences from making those travels.

Mohamed Sharif and other professional artists will participate in the Black Art Show at WSU from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. on the first floor of the Rhatigan Student Center. 


Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.