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New York Exhibition Examines Worldwide 'African' Aesthetic

NY Times, ARTnews, PBS, Art+Auction, Others Praise Groundbreaking Show

Posted 11.01.10 by MICA Communications

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No longer are these artists viewed as part of the periphery of the main stream art world. This work redefines a new center of creativity and innovation for the 21st century. 

Gee's Bend, Untitled Quilt

MICA is immersing itself in the New York art scene this fall by co-organizing an unprecedented exhibition exploring the broad spectrum of contemporary African art, design, and craft worldwide. The Global Africa Project, premiering at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), features the work of more than 100 artists—including several MICA alumni and faculty members—in Africa, Europe, Asia, the United States, and the Caribbean. This exhibition, on view from Wednesday, November 17, 2010 through Sunday, May 15, 2011, is co-curated by Leslie King-Hammond, founding director of the Center for Race and Culture (CRC) and graduate dean emerita, and Lowery Strokes Sims, MAD's Charles Bronfman Internationa Curator. The Global Africa Project will also take part in Art Basel Miami Beach at The Betsy Hotel Miami Beach, opening Friday, December 3 through Monday, February 14.

Willie Birch '73, In Search of Warriors (For David Driskell)Through ceramics, basketry, textiles, jewelry, furniture, architecture, fashion, photography, painting sculpture, and installlation wrok, the exhibition challenges conventional notions of a singular African aesthetic oridentity, and reflects the integration of African art and design without making the usual distinctions between "professional" and "artisan."

MICA artists participating in the project include painter, sculptor and educator Willie Birch '73 (MFA in Art Education); fine art photographer, educator, and photojournalist Linda Day Clark '94( photography); Trinidad-based conceptionalist artist Christopher Cozier '86 (painting); multimedia artist Joyce Scott '70 (art education); Rinehart School of Sculpture Interim Director and sculptor Chakaia Booker; and Rinehart School of Sculpture Director and sculptur Maren Hassinger, who plans to exhibit a series of woven and folded newspaper "sit upons" and hopes that when museumgoers sit on them, new views of the art and the audience will be revealed.


  • Read: New York Times' feature on The Global Africa Project
  • Read: New York Times' review
  • Read: ARTnews' coverage of the show
  • Watch: PBS SundayArts' interview
  • Read: Art+Auction's Q&A with Sims
  • Read: Baltimore Sun's story with a local angle
  • Watch: Voice of America's interview
  • Watch: CBS New York's interview with both curators










 

Other featured artists and designers in The Global Africa Project range from well-known figures, such as Yinka Shonibare, Kehinde Wiley, and Fred Wilson; to fashion designers Duro Olowu and Paris-based Togolese/Brazilian designer Kossi; to the Gahaya Linsks Weaving Association, a collaborative of Hutu and Tutsi women working in traditional basketry techniques in Rwanda.

The Global Africa Project is organized around several thematic ideas: the intersecting of cultures and cultural fusion; the branding and co-opting of cultural references; promotions of art and design in the Maren Hassinger, Africainternational market and the creative global scene; the use of local materials; and the impact of artmaking on the ceconomic and social condition of communities.

King-Hammond has curated more than 30 exhibitions nationally since the 1970s, focusing on African-American aesthetics, women's studies, Western surveys, and 20th-century art.

The 280-page exhibition catalog, published jointly by the CRC, MAD, and Prestel Publishers, features a curatorial essay by King-Hammond as well as writing by Cozier and MICA faculty member René Treviño '05 (Mount Royal School of Art). Rassaan Hammond '04 (MA in Digital Arts), with Greeneye Multimedia, created the Global Africa documentary and artist interviews.

Photo captions (top down):  Gee's Bend, Mary Lee Bendolph's quilt; Willie Birch '73, In Search of Warriors (For David Driskell), papier-mâché, mixed media, 1995-96 (Photo courtesy of Luise Ross Gallery, New York); Maren Hassinger, Africa, performative paperwear, New York Times newspaper, 2009 (Photo by Ava Hassinger).