In spite of terrible weather and competition from an afternoon Patriot’s game, the Global Africa opening reception at the Fitchburg Art Museum two weeks ago was wonderful and well-attended. The three of us above, plus the reporter Clennon King, were present — representing a mini-reunion from the Slave Dwelling Project‘s overnight at the Royall House Slave Quarters a month back*. Ellen Watters Sullivan would have been there too if the Cape hadn’t been suffering gale-force winds.
“GLOBAL AFRICA: Creativity, Continuity and Change in African Art, an exhibition of classic, contemporary and commissioned art objects including masks, masquerades with videos, photographs, carved portraits, textiles, metal arts as currency, and an interactive Learning Lounge for all ages.” [From the Fitchburg Art Museum's website].
In the foyer, Solomon Murungu’s music filled the cathedral-ceilinged space with haunting melodies which I later learned were traditional Shona ceremonial songs (read more about him here). It was amazing to me how much mood and sound came from his single instrument — the mbira.
There was a buffet of delicious Brazilian food (my favorite? the fried plantains). And, African fabric was draped around almost as an afterthought.
What follows are pictures from the day** mixed in with other images that I took back in March at a Boston exhibit of Ife Franklin’s incredible work.
The Boston Globe has featured Ife’s work many times. One particularly nice article is here. I won’t try to describe the spirit and integrity and visual pizzazz of her work, or I will never get this post up, but I encourage you to read about her. Not surprisingly, her indigo pieces are among my favorites.
The ‘Masquerade Ensemble’ by Cuban artist Nelson Montenegro (2013), has visual and ritual ties to Nigeria. I was taken by the patchwork, of course, and learned that the rafia cuffs and neck adornment ‘refer to sacred forests’. The bells at the waist were to dispel negative energy. The visiting shaman in the gallery also wore bells — around his ankles.
* My reflections on the Royall House Slave Quarters overnight are here. The Slave Dwelling Project founder, Joseph McGill, Jr., Catharine Sasanov’s and Ellen Watters Sullivan’s reflections on the night in Medford are here. Clennon King was handing out copies of his newly printed article about the experience, featured in that Sunday’s Boston Globe.
** Sorry to make you suffer through my enthusiastic experiments with the DianaPhotoApp. I think I’d had it about a week at the time.