african masksWhitman-New-Jersey
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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

African Art books I like | Genuine African Masks

African art as a history lesson at 
Walt Whitman Center Gallery

Herman Bigham shows his pieces at Walt Whitman Center Gallery to give the community cultural clues.

The Walt Whitman Center Gallery features rare, authentic African objects in this exhibit that illustrates the symbolic use of animals in African cultural material.

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Inquirer Columnist Posted on Sun, Feb. 06, 2005

Herman Bigham put together “Symbolic Use of Animals in African Cultural Arts” in Camden from works he and others have collected.
APRIL SAUL / Inquirer
Herman Bigham put together “Symbolic Use of Animals in African Cultural Arts” in Camden from works he and others have collected.

Animals in African Art

Through February, 2005 Walt Whitman Center Gallery  

Herman Bigham is a man with a mission as big as Africa.

For the last 12 years, Bigham has made it his business to gather pieces of African sculpture and put them on public display. It's necessary for African Americans to see the cultural legacy of their ancestors, he said. His current effort, "Symbolic Use of Animals in African Cultural Arts," is on display at the Walt Whitman Arts Center in Camden.

Bigham, 55, began collecting 12 years ago when he opened Ayinde, an African cultural-arts space in West Philadelphia.

"That's when I really began to acquire African art on a significant level," Bigham said. "People's response to it made me realize the need to continue to expose people to our art."

Bigham calls himself a "preserver," not a collector. "Collectors buy art and the public rarely, if ever, sees it," Bigham said. "I feel it's important for people to see and experience African art. It has a lot to teach us."

Bigham has borrowed art from other "preservers" to set up the Camden exhibition, which features contemporary as well as old pieces.

"The age of the piece is not the most significant thing about the art," Bigham said. "We look at a piece to see how it was used, why it was made, and what power it has."

While most collectors acquire African art for its decorative qualities, Bigham believes it's best viewed as a cultural expression.

"The artist didn't make these pieces of sculpture for decorative purposes," Bigham said. "They usually had a purpose in life; a spiritual purpose, a household purpose."

The art also has lessons to teach people, he said.

"The pieces often show an importance and respect for elders, how to conduct social relationships and family relationships, as well as an individual's responsibility to the community."

That's why Bigham likes to have his exhibitions housed in public spaces such as the Walt Whitman Center or libraries. "It needs to be in a place where people feel comfortable coming to," he said.

Which is good, because most of Bigham's exhibitions are without sponsors. One of the reasons is that there are few African Americans involved in buying, collecting and preserving African art, he said. "But it's our people who really need to see the skill and creativity used by their ancestors." He relies on other preservers to lend pieces, and pays most of the expense of mounting a show.

Ideally, Bigham would like to build a body of African American scholars and preservers and get corporate sponsors so he can continue to create exhibitions. Once that happens, he'd like to establish touring exhibitions as well as educational shows that would visit schools.

"There's so much we can learn from this art," he said. "It's a shame there are so few places to see it."

Contact columnist Lucia Herndon at 215-854-5724 or lherndon*phillynews.com. text found at http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/living/people/women/10798052.htm

The Walt Whitman Arts Center exhibition "Symbolic Use of Animals in African Cultural Arts" is free and will continue through Feb. 28. For information, call the center at 856-964-8300. To reach Herman Bigham, call 215-387-2742.

Animals in African Art

Through February, 2005
Walt Whitman Center Gallery

The Walt Whitman Center Gallery features rare, authentic African objects in this exhibit that illustrates the symbolic use of animals in African cultural material.

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African art books

The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

more African Art books I like


read also : Start ] Virtual Museum ] African-Americans SF ] Chicago-ceramics ] Newark Museum ] Cleveland arms ] de Young-SF ] Museum of fine arts Boston ] Brooklyn Museum ] New Orleans Museum ] Detroit Institute DIA ] SAMA Artistry ] Museum for African Art ] Barbier-Mueller ] Cleveland ] Dallas-Museum-of-Arts ] Indianapolis ] Columbia-Urhobo ] NMAA Art-Treasures ] Baltimore-museum ] Dapper postcolonial ] Fine-arts-Houston ] Menil-Houston-Texas ] Louvres-Islamic art ] Minneapolis ] Metropolitan ] Israel Museum Jerusalem ] Orlando-Museum ] Cincinnati art museum ] Philadelphia-Museum ] Polk-Museum-of-Art ] african culture Portland ] Smithsonian-Washington ] SMA fathers New Jersey ] Tervueren ] UMKC-Belger Arts ] [ Whitman-New-Jersey ] West-Valley-Arizona ] Kunstkamera-Petersburg ] Ethnology-Vienna ] Irma-Stern-Museum ] Appleton museum Ocala ] UCLA-Fowler ] Benin Museum ] Weltkulture ] DuSable Museum ] Cuba museum ] fineartshouston ] Bowers museum ] Museu Afro Brazil ] airport art ] Nelson Atkins ] Zora Neale ] branly museum ] Longyear museum ] Douglas society Denver ] Denver art museum ] Centre Black African Civilization ] charles wright ] Seattle Art Museum ] Samuel Dorsky ] High museum Atlanta ]

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