A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden
Harn Museum hosts variety of African art
The Harn Museum is located on the University of Florida campus at the UF Cultural Plaza.
By ASHLEY HOFFMAN
When curator Susan Cooksey assembled the Highlights from the African Collection at the Harn Museum, she endeavored transcending the common tribal-mask misconception.
The result: a powerful and vastly distinct collection that consists of textiles, basket-weaving, beading and sculptures from West, Central, South and East Africa.
"I wanted the exhibition to show people new things that they hadn't seen," Cooksey said. "I wanted the exhibition to highlight very interesting things that were aesthetically engaging."
The Harn touts one of the largest African art collections in the Southeast, and in this exhibit, Cooksey has attempted to bring African art to life. She hopes to add music and dance to further the interactive experience of the exhibition.
In addition to masks and other examples of African art, the collection includes a painted triptych, a piece rare to many African galleries.
The icon portrays canonical images of saints and the holy family in the manner of European-Byzantine style. For three centuries during the First Gander Period (1650 to 1700 CE), Ethiopian art surprisingly reflected the depiction of the Virgin Mary made popular in Rome.
Cooksey explores African healing methods with her installment of sub-Saharan African objects entitled "African Arts of Healing and Divination," which opened Tuesday. The exhibition communicates the idea of holistic wellness through diagnosis and therapies in African customs.
Harn volunteer Mona Young said that she thinks the exhibition does a great job of representing the cultures of Africa.
"I like the diversity of cultures and objects from the Highlights collection," Young said. "I feel like it's a good introductory exhibit for someone who doesn't know a lot about African art, but it's also a good selection for those who do."
Koranic Amulet (xirsi), 18th century
silver, agate, amber, ivory
Gift of Katheryne Loughran and John Loughran, President, Foundation for Cross Cultural Understanding
African Arts of Healing and Divination
This exhibition will include objects from
Sub-Saharan Africa drawn from the Harn and private collections. It will explore
the multi-sensory qualities of objects and performances in the contexts of
healing and divination. The traditional concept of health in Africa is holistic,
encompassing body, mind and spirit. In the past and today, many types of
specialists may be enlisted to help overcome an affliction, including diviners
and healers. The exhibition will look at individual curing techniques and
materials that change with the cultural, religious, political and ecological
landscapes. This exhibition will reflect the viability of ancient systems of
healing in Africa today, and the integration of traditional practices with
Art of the Ethiopian Highlands from the Harn Museum Collection
This Rotunda Gallery installation showcases for
the first time the museumís notable collection of mural paintings, icons,
illustrated manuscripts, bronze processional crosses and carved wooden hand
crosses created for use in Christian churches of the Ethiopian highlands. A
particular highlight of the exhibition is a rare 25-foot long mural painting
portraying the war of King Takla Haymanot with the Dervishes, painted in the
late 19th or early 20th century. Historical figures are identified by
inscriptions. Clothing, royal regalia, armor, weaponry and horse trappings are
rendered in great detail, providing insight into customs of an earlier period.
Art of the Ethiopian Highlands provides a historical context for the adjacent
exhibition Continuity and Change: Three Generations of Ethiopian Artists,
which focuses on modern and contemporary Ethiopian art. In addition, other
Ethiopian icons, crosses and healing scrolls from the collection are featured in
Highlights from the Harn Museum African Collection and the African
Arts of Healing and Divination exhibition. Made possible by the Frederick
and Aase B. Thompson Foundation.
Continuity and Change: Three Generations of Ethiopian Artists
January 23, 2007 - April 29, 2007
Highlights from the African Collection
September 5, 2006 - ongoing
The exhibition will showcase the best of the Harn's African collection, one of the largest African art collections in the southeast, emphasizing the historical and geographical diversity of the collection as well as a range of mediums now well-represented in the collection. It will include wood sculpture, masquerades, ceramics, textiles, metalwork (including jewelry), and architectural elements. The exhibition will draw attention to some recent acquisitions not previously exhibited at the Harn. The exhibition will also focus on works by identified artists or hands, including works by Osei Bonsu, Ubah of Usufoia, Olowe of Ise and Agbonbiofe Adesina. Made possible by SunTrust Bank.
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