Friday, August 25, 2006

Malawi - african masks

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Preserving culture in wood carvings
Malawi's Daily Times - Malawi

Preserving culture in wood carvingsBY DEBORAH NYANGULU02:18:29 - 25 August 2006Many people in the country have argued that our culture has taken a defective position – a position where culture is turning to ‘alien’ cultures and importing cultural elements from them.Every time one hears elders bemoaning Malawi’s lost culture. They recall the good old days when Malawi had what it could proudly call her own cultural identity.But despite all sorts of cultural imports taking place in the country, there still remain strong elements of what can be described as truly Malawian.One such element that has attempted to preserve the country’s culture is wood carving.Wood carvings are found almost everywhere in the country. They are sold along the roads in the country and many other places in the cities and towns.
... We thus make masks of gule wamkulu, figures of chiefs and animals, chairs, zipande, traditional bowls and models of African huts,” Baundi says. ...

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African masks -- and more

African masks -- and more

03/29/07By TAYA FLORES found at Capital News Service

BALTIMORE -- African art goes beyond the traditional mask. At least that's what a new exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art is intended to show.
While the connection between an Egyptian alabaster vase and the stunning kaleidoscope of video images by Ethiopian artist Theo Eshetu may not be obvious, one thing is certain -- African art is changing.
"Americans are new to learning about the diversity of the African continent because we haven't learned it," said the exhibit's curator, Karen Milbourne. "What is represented in media is this generic African culture of people living in tribes. Those nuances of who the individual is get lost in these stereotyped styles."
The pieces come from different countries, have different purposes and are loosely wound around the current exhibition's theme, Light. It is the first of a three part series of exhibitions called Meditations on African Art, which explores the use of light, color and pattern in African art. Light opened in December and ends April 1.
The second exhibition, Color, features African art that may be more familiar to Americans. It has some 30 masks and focuses on the symbolism of the colors red, black and white used within the masks. This exhibition opens April 18 and ends Aug. 19.
The last exhibition, Pattern which opens Aug. 29 and ends Jan. 13, 2008, explores the use of dynamic pattern within African art.
Light show
Light showcases a diverse mix of African art ranging from a pair of 19th to 20th-century brass ankle bracelets worn by a high-ranking Nigerian woman to a Yoruba bead painting from Nigerian artist Jimoh Buraimoh.
Traditional African art is functional and connected with religious ceremony or rituals. Africans do not create art for art's sake as in Western cultures, said Gabriel Tenabe, director of museums at Morgan State University.
Although most of the pieces in the exhibit are traditional masks and statues, some, such as those by the Ethiopian, Theo Eshetu, and by Buraimoh, depart from the traditional style and create artwork that is conceptual.
Eshetu's video installation uses images, television and mirrors to create a video montage, in which viewers stand in front of a frame and stick their head in to see a globe of images from America, Africa and Bali, emerging, moving and melding together.
Buraimoh's piece from 1991, Three Wise Men, shows three figures "painted" with beads. The figures allude to the three wise men of the bible and the three men who negotiated with the English for Nigeria's independence in 1960.
Religion's influence
The Morgan State museum director, Tenabe, said traditional art is dying out and giving way to new art forms for many reasons.
For one thing, younger generations have moved away from traditional religions, Tenabe said.
"Everything traditional is connected to religion," he said. "But Islam prohibits images and Christian missionaries took art works out of the continent. As a result a lot of young people moved away from it."
He said that authentic African art became popular among Europeans and Americans around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The masks, sculpture and wood carvings were used for religious rituals, ceremonies and to adorn shrines. He said the art was never meant to be sold, but some people would steal it from the shrines and sell it or foreign missionaries would bring it to Europe or the United States.
Tenabe said another reason the art is changing is that younger people are also moving to cities were the traditional artwork is not practiced. Still, Tenabe said, traditional art will not disappear overnight.
"There are still pockets of Africans that create their own works because they follow their own religion and even up to now people still use masks in Nigeria," he said.
Selling to consumers
But some artists are moving away from the traditional style and moving not only to conceptual styles, but consumer styles of art as well.
"The new people make it to make a living, but not for religion," he said. "They are moving away from traditional style because a lot of work goes into it and they are making it for consumers. The quality is not there because people are no longer doing it for religion, but for tourism."
He said an authentic African mask would normally take a year to make, and sell for $2,000, but now the same artist makes four or five masks in six months and sells the new masks for $50 each.
At 58, Erness Abron Hill, a lecturer at Morgan State, said she has seen the prices of authentic African art soar during the 30 years she's been collecting.
A mask she paid $35 for in 1980 would be $350 now.
AIDS epidemic
She suggested there is a simpler but more tragic reason traditional art is dying out: The African AIDS epidemic is killing the artists.
"As the disease spreads it's going to phase out the old tradition," she said. "When Africa stabilizes, the culture will be different."
Even within traditional art forms such as masks, the imprint of AIDS is apparent. Milbourne said that there are masks that have the AIDS ribbon built into them.
She also said that Africans are using the arts to educate the youth about AIDS and people infected with the disease are using artworks to raise money for their care, such as women in South Africa making and selling baskets made out of telephone wire.
Although traditional African art is changing, it's not a negative thing, Hill said.
"This will change the way people view African art for the good," she said. "It will help people have a better view of Africans, besides the traditional."

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african masks articles

African Supercar: The New Strada Project
Jalopnik - Herndon,VA,USA
A new Italian sports car inspired by African masks? Sure, I'm game. According to Car Body Design, the the African Automotive Design ...

Because it's there
St. Petersburg Times - St. Petersburg,FL,USA
... He raided the Animal Kingdom gift shops. Zebra masks. Kenyan carvings. African wind chimes. "Honest to God," Simone says, "I didn't think he'd go crazy.". ...

Shopping for Souvenirs
Provincetown Banner - Provincetown,MA,USA
... There are shops which sell sandals, African masks, etchings, hooked rugs, handmade jewelry, pottery, and the midtown shops which have every sort of gadget for ...

National museum devoted to slavery
The State - Columbia,SC,USA
... African-Americans spent $30.5 billion on leisure travel in the United States in ... book with state-by-state slave listings, and torture devices, masks and wooden ...

Philadelphia - Philadelphia,PA,USA
... 30. AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MUSEUM, 7th & Arch sts., 215-574-0380. ... ceramics and porcelain, weaving, male and female costumes, embroidery masks, dolls, puppets ...

Vaccinations help travelers minimize risk of disease
Centre Daily Times - Centre County,PA,USA
... The walls of the clinic are decorated with ethnic fabrics, African masks and enlarged pictures of deceptively harmless-looking mosquitoes. ...

Immigrants Flock Proudly to Musée du Quai Branly
New York Times - United States
... rites from New Guinea stand up as if of their own accord, a whole wall is covered with Australian aboriginal bark paintings, African masks are positioned at ...

VUE Weekly - Edmonton,Alberta,Canada
... introduction that incorporates his insightful thoughts about the African stereotypes that ... recreates every character using a mix of costumes, masks and puppetry ...

Hidden Gems (150,000 of Them)
New York Sun - New York,NY,USA
... Street, was one of the first to display artifacts such as masks, statues, ceremonial ... displayed at the Museum in "Perfect Documents: Walker Evans and African Art ...

'Double, Double' is twice the fun
Boston Globe - United States
... We take in the tasteful array of African masks, the sweeping spiral staircase to a balcony above, the silver objets scattered on perfect little tables, and we ...

John Molori's Media Blitz - USA
... before us, the players that played when they didn't have face masks, when they had ... Warren Moon and delved into Moon’s role as the first African-American QB ...

African modern art

They’re buying
the Nelson and JCCC have acquired for their upcoming new spaces ART
By ALICE THORSON found at The Kansas City Star

More space calls for more art.
So the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Johnson County Community College are racking up acquisitions: the Nelson to fill its new Bloch Building, opening June 9, and JCCC for the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, opening in fall 2007.
Jan Schall, the Nelson’s curator of modern and contemporary art, has been working with adviser Robert Storr on an array of purchases, funded by a $10 million grant from the William T. Kemper Foundation — Commerce Bank, Trustee.

Most of the works are destined for the modern and contemporary art galleries in the Bloch Building, where the collection will enjoy 14,240 square feet, a 50 percent increase in space over its former quarters in the original Nelson structure.

At the Nerman, director Bruce Hartman has been on an extended shopping spree since January 2004, thanks to Kansas City philanthropists Tony and Marti Oppenheimer.
To date, the Oppenheimers and the Oppenheimer Brothers Foundation have spent $654,000 on 76 artworks for the museum. They will appear in rotating displays in three permanent collection galleries, measuring 4,000 square feet, on the second floor.

As of this month, the two institutions together have added more than 100 new works. Here’s a sneak preview of a small sampling.
•Richard Serra, “Corner Block” (1983):

Serra’s rectangular block of steel balanced atop a 5-by-5-foot plate of steel is part of the eminent American sculptor’s “prop series,” inspired by the verb “to prop.”
“It’s just based on gravity, balance and point load,” Schall explained. “You have that sense of suspended animation, arrested motion and this tension about the fact that nothing seems to be supporting this but forces of nature. There’s always a little sense of danger.”
“We have a very strong collection of minimalist art, and we’ve never had a Serra,” Schall added. “(This piece) cements the core of key artists involved with minimalist thinking.”
•Marc Handelman, “Miasma (2)” (2006):
L.A. art critic David Pagel raved about Handelman’s “creepy images of power” in the artist’s debut exhibit at Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles in 2005.
The Nerman’s new acquisition, an 8-by-8-foot abstraction that riffs on the Fox News logo, continues in this vein.
“He took the logo and just started abstracting and abstracting it until it became a big swirl,” Hartman said. “It’s all in red, white and blue, and the center spirals around. It’s like an explosion of patriotism, but there’s a void at the center suggesting something is awry. It’s really out there.”
• Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled (March 5th) #2” (1991):
His lover Ross, who died of AIDS in 1991, was a major inspiration for the art of Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996), including the Nelson’s recently acquired light sculpture.
The March 5 date included in the title is Ross’ birthday.
“It’s a tribute to Ross as an AIDS activist and gay man,” Schall said. “It’s about two lives, two energies, hung side by side together, and somebody’s light will go out first,” she added. “It’s very poignant, and such a simple use of metaphor for such eloquent and humanistic content. All it is, is two cords, two plugs, two sockets, two light bulbs. When one burns out, you change both and start over.”
•Jess, “Figure 2 — A Field of Pumpkins Grown for Seed: Translation #11” (1965):
Born Burgess Collins in Long Beach, Calif., in 1923, the artist who came to be known simply as “Jess” was a leading light in the Bay Area art scene. Although his idiosyncratic work was slow to earn national critical recognition, it now appears in major museum collections around the country.
The Nelson’s recent acquisition is one of the enigmatic figurative works Jess called “translations.”
“They’re all based on little black-and-white reproductions of things he’s seen in books and translated into something else,” Schall said. The source image for the Nelson painting came from an early 20th-century U.S. Department of Agriculture yearbook.
“It’s a magical painting, and yet it’s so mundane,” Schall said. “It is really outside the mainstream. We wanted to bring in some things that aren’t necessarily part of the big story that’s always told.”
•Nick Cave, “Soundsuit” (2005):
Cave, a 1992 alum of the Kansas City Art Institute, makes elaborate “soundsuits,” incorporating feathers, dryer lint, sequins, beads and human hair. He relates them to “African ceremonial costumes and masks,” and designs them to be worn and performed.
For the Nerman, Hartman purchased a vibrant beaded and sequined soundsuit featuring old beaded compact cases that Cave picked up at flea markets. The design on the back resembles African Kuba cloth, but the most striking element of the work is its pointed headdress, evoking a Ku Klux Klan hood.
“He’s taken the most conspicuous symbol of the Klan and completely subverted it,” Hartman said. “It’s no longer a question of fearing something. He’s overwhelming it.”
•Nadine Robinson, “Rock Box #2” (2006):
“I wanted to get hip-hop culture into the larger mainstream,” Robinson said during a visit to Kansas City in spring 2005. She was showing two big blue paintings inset with black speakers in the “Lost in Music” show at JCCC.
Robinson continues to develop her unique fusion of street culture and high art in a commissioned work for the Nerman. Her “Rock Box #2” (2006) “references hip-hop and bling,” Hartman said.
“It’s a big speaker box, all white and completely covered with rhinestones,” he said. “It also has a sound component, derived from New York dance club music, and the speaker pulsates slightly to the beat.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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