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ACASA: University of Florida hosts international symposium on African art


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — From March 28 to April 1,2007 more than 400 participants of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) Fourteenth Triennial Symposium on African Art will be hosted by the University of Florida’s Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, College of Fine Arts, School of Art and Art History, and Center for African Studies. Harn Museum Director Rebecca Nagy and Robin Poynor, UF professor and assistant director of the School of Fine Arts, are the symposium co-chairs.

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“Global Africa,” the theme of the symposium, addresses the ways in which African and Diaspora arts have played and increasingly continue to play a part in international and transcultural exchanges. Many of the more than 42 panels focus on contemporary African art, where these global connections are especially important. Panels on the classical arts of Africa also reflect connections and influences across the continent and beyond, and place African art within far-reaching historical frameworks.

One of the distinctive features of the symposium is the incorporation of the Gwendolen M. Carter Lectures on Africa addressing the theme of “African Visual Cultures: Crossing Disciplines, Crossing Regions.” Three special panels bring together UF faculty from diverse disciplines and visiting Carter Fellows of global renown, including Cameroonian author and artist Werewere Liking, Malian artist Abdoulaye Konaté, Ivoiran philosopher and art critic Yacouba Konaté, and the South African art and design team Strangelove.

Besides the panels and discussions for symposium participants, a number of public programs and concurrent exhibitions will allow engagement with the ideas, issues and people connected to ACASA. The Harn Museum’s Bishop Study Center will be showing a number of African films over the course of the symposium. On March 29, 2007 at 7 p.m. at the University Auditorium, Okwui Enwezor, dean of academic affairs and senior vice president of the San Francisco Art Institute, will give the keynote address, titled “Placemaking or in the ‘Wrong Place:’ Contemporary African Artists and the Global Stage.”

At the Harn Museum of Art, home to one of the largest collections of African art in the southeast U.S., five related exhibitions will entertain visitors and scholars alike: “Continuity and Change: Three Generations of Ethiopian Artists,” “Art of the Ethiopian Highlands from the Harn Museum Collection,” “IMAGinING TOBIA,” “African Arts of Healing and Divination,” and “Highlights from the African Collection.” Visitors can delve deeper into “Continuity and Change: Three Generations of Ethiopian Artists” during a docent-guided exhibition spotlight tour on March 29 at 7:30 p.m.

The Thomas Center’s Main Gallery is hosting “From Ogun’s Forge: Metal Art for the Orisha.” “Cybervisions: Digital Paintings by Achamyeleh Debela” is featured in “the gallery” at J. Wayne Reitz Union. UF’s Grinter Gallery is hosting “In the House: Domestic Arts from the Horn of Africa.” “Imagining Africa: European maps and what they tell us about their makers” is on display in UF’s Marston Science Library. “Homage in Miniature: The Works of Kofi Cole” is featured in UF’s Fine Arts C Building Foyer. “African Pathways to Urbanism: Photographs by Peter Schmidt” is featured in the Florida Museum of Natural History. “Senegalese Reverse-Glass Painting – Strength and Fragility: A Unique Vision” is on display at the Center for African Studies.

ACASA was established in 1982 as an independent nonprofit professional association affiliated with the African Studies Association (ASA). The organization facilitates communication among those interested in the arts of Africa and the African Diaspora. Its goals are to promote greater understanding of African material and expressive culture in all its many forms, and to encourage contact and collaboration with African and Diaspora artists and scholars.

For more information or to register for the symposium, visit


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