african masksFrederick-Scott-Boston
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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Out of Africa: The colors and traditions of 'Nigerian Rhythms' in Sudbury.

SUDBURY -- The rhythmic sounds of drums fill the Fredrick Scott Gallery, adding more vitality to the already colorful ambiance in an exhibit that reflects the expressive roots of African art.

Frederick Scott in Boston

'Nigerian Rhythms' creatures scroll paintings, headdresses and traditional costumes. (Photo: Dave Rains)

By Melissa Castellanos / News Correspondent
Thursday, March 11, 2004 
Found at Shrewsbury Chronicle - Shrewsbury,MA,USA http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/artsCulture/view.bg?articleid=62672 

"Nigerian Rhythms," featuring scroll paintings, headdresses and traditional costumes, is a vibrant explosion of color that explores the culture of the African nation and incorporates the artists' personalities and ideals.

The exhibit runs through April 30.

"Nigerian Rhythms" features works from university- and workshop-trained artists, folk artists and traditional artists who explore all aspects of their culture. They each have their own individual style and craftsmanship.

The exhibit includes colorful costumes and headdresses worn for festival or funeral performances made by traditional artists Lawrence Ajanuku and Pius Isah Omagbai.

There are scroll paintings by Tobenna Okwuosa, a university-trained artist who focuses his theme on "Motherhood, Femininity and Values" celebrating the importance of women.  

Oshogbo Workshop artists, such as Bayo Ogundele, Tunde and Wole Olaiide, focus on local themes with an expressionist style and also possess their own effect.

     In conjunction with the exhibit, at 7 tonight Dr. Jean Borgatti, an associate professor of visual and performing arts at Clark University and a Fulbright scholar in African art history, will give a talk that includes her personal slides and commentary about her experiences living and teaching in Southern Nigeria.

     As an undergraduate, Borgatti majored in modern art history, but felt that there was a void of interest that needed to be fulfilled. "I became interested in non-Western art, specifically African, Native American and art of the Pacific because of the historic relationships and the inspiration...these arts provided for the early 20th century Western artists such as Picasso, Matisse and so on."

     Borgatti, a Shrewsbury resident who is the daughter of legendary Spag's Supply founder Anthony Borgatti, continued onto graduate school where she was able to focus her research and create her own path of study in an area where not many ventured.

     Because of ever-changing cultures, traditions and modern influences, Borgatti was able to capture her study of art during a time and place that cannot be replicated. She spent three years in the 1970s doing her thesis research in Southern Nigeria right after the Nigerian civil war that resulted in a military dictatorship.

     In 1979, Borgatti returned for a post-doctoral program. At that time the military handed the country back to civilian rule and there were elections taking place.

     "There was a sense prosperity and hope," said Borgatti. For the most part the country was at peace and the people were safe.

     Borgatti returned to Southern Nigeria (Edo State) in September 2002. Through December 2003 she taught in the Department of Fine and Applied Art at the University of Benin, the closest school to her research site. She taught African Art History to African artists with a specialization in traditional art.

     Elections were taking place again during that visit, Borgatti said, however, the undercurrent felt very different, "more cynicism... that has not served them well."

     When people ask Borgatti what it was like to go back to Nigeria after so long, she said, "It makes me want to cry, makes me want to weep for the opportunities that have been taken from the people."

     Although there may be jobs for a relatively educated population, the jobs can't be done properly because of the lack of resources and electricity and fuel shortages. The country exports crude oil yet must import refined oil. It is a country that should be wealthy, Borgatti said, but instead it has gone from mid-income to low-income.

     Although there isn't a large market for purchasing artwork in Southern Nigeria, Borgatti said, occasionally a portrait or a landscape will sell. Expressionistic or experimental artwork is not as commonly desired, but in the United States it is welcomed and people have the money to invest in artwork. Therefore, an overseas exhibit is very exciting for these African artists.

     "African art isn't highly representational in its traditional practice. It is highly stylized, but not because people couldn't do it. It is because they chose not to do it," said Borgatti. "The culture didn't demand them to make representational things."

     The gallery's exhibit, she added, is "a tribute to the artists and the Nigerian visual culture, which we don't have access to. She wants visitors to take away an understanding of a complicated, varied history, and "not to mention a piece or two."

     Fred Scott, who owns the gallery located in an historic old home, said he encourages families to bring their children, especially for this colorful exhibit.

   

  "I think children should be able to engage in art," said Scott.

     Local interest in African art is on the rise, Borgatti noted. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston will soon be reinstalling its collection of African art. And the 13th Triennial Symposium of the Art Council of the African Studies Association, ACASA, sponsored by Harvard University, takes place in Boston, Cambridge and Salem March 31 through April 2. For more information, go to http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~artsweb/welcome/acasa.html 

    In celebration of the conference, the Fredrick Scott Gallery will host a reception at the gallery on Sunday, April 4, at 9 a.m., where Solomon Murungu, a master of the Zimbabwean mbirra (thumb piano), will present his work.

     Dr. Jean Borgatti's gallery talk on Nigerian art takes place tonight at 7 at the Fredrick Scott Gallery, in the Village Green Shops, 29 Hudson Road (Rte. 27), Sudbury. The gallery will be open until 9 p.m.

     Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. For a complete list of events and additional information, visit the Web site  http://www.fscottgallery.com/  or call 978-440-8898. In addition, Dr. Jean Borgatti will be accepting books about African art to be donated to the University of Benin in Southern Nigeria.

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African art books

The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

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read also : Start ] [ Frederick-Scott-Boston ] Charles Benenson ] Arman African Art ] Baselitz ] Barnes foundation ] Gary Schulze ] Paolo Morigi ] Bareiss ] Owen Mort ] Tomkins collection ] lavuun ] Goldet auction ] Tishman ] Metha-Montgomey ] William Rubin ] Bregger ] Guido Poppe African Weapons ] Picasso back to Africa ] Private collection ] Felix Feneon ] Jean-Pierre Hallet ] Leo Frobenius ] Olbrechts ] Frank Willett ] Kerchache ] Brill collection ] Vicente Huidobro ] Hans Witte ] Collins Diboll ] Richard Faletti ] Lester Saffier ] Genevieve McMillan ] Stanoff ] Marc Ginzberg ] Horstmann Collection ] Warren Robbins ]

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