Monday, January 17, 2011

"The Global Africa Project" - on display at the Museum of Arts and Design

"The Global Africa Project," currently on display at the Museum of Arts & Design, examines the jewelry, fashion, architecture, basketry, ceramics, painting, and design of the continent. The show presents 200 works by nearly 120 people, teams and collectives. It represents artists, designers, and artisans who produce works that represent the area. 

The show aims to "explore the impact of African visual culture on contemporary art, craft and design around the world." Items on display include the work of Baltimore bead sculptor Joyce Scott and 'drapos' by Haitian artist George Valris. Photographs by J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere of African women's headdresses and elaborate hairdos are also on exhibit, alongside crocheted hats by artist Xenobia Bailey. Other featured artists range from such well-known figures as Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Kehinde Wiley, and Fred Wilson; to Nigerian-born, London-based fashion designer Duro Olowu, and Paris-based Togolese/Brazilian designer Kossi Aguessy. 

The show is curated by Lowery Stokes Sims, MAD's Charles Bronfman International Curator, and Leslie King-Hammond, Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture at MICA. The exhibit is organized around several thematic ideas, which include: the phenomenon of intersecting cultures and cultural fusion; the branding and co-opting of cultural references; how art and design is promoted in the international market and the creative global scene; the use of local materials; and the impact of art-making on the economic and social condition of local communities. These themes will, according to the curators, "encourage audiences to discern how global African artists grapple with the commodification of art production and the meaning and value of art in society - an increasingly significant issue for nations in a rapidly changing global context."