Krannert Art Museum (KAM) opens its newly designed gallery devoted to the arts of Africa. Encounters: The Arts of Africa is a thematically organized installation inspired by the idea that objects can “tell” multiple stories, not only about themselves but also about the broader social contexts and often fraught global histories through which they have journeyed. Indeed, as a 21st century museum, KAM is committed to raising awareness about the “life histories” of African artworks, as well as the museum’s role in shaping an understanding of those histories.
The installation displays nearly 70 artworks from the museum's African holdings, many of which have not been on view for decades. In the spirit of introducing visitors to African contemporary studio-based practices and to the long participation of African artists in the global arts scene, several works—from artists Wosene Worke Kosrof, Yelimane Fall, Magdalene Odundo, and Rotimi Fani-Kayodé—will be displayed in meaningful conjunction with the tradition-based works. The gallery also includes several visitor-activated iPad videos of artist interviews, narrative vignettes, and masquerade clips that allow visitors to see masks as they were intended by their makers.
Encounters: The Arts of Africa celebrates the aesthetic power, global reach, and contemporary relevance of the visual arts of Africa, which continue to change and reflect the social worlds that give them meaning. The gallery will inspire new ways of seeing these works, and encourage visitors to reflect on their own diverse histories and connections to the arts of Africa and its diasporas.
The exhibition is curated by Allyson Purpura and sponsored in part by the Theresa and Harlan E. Moore Charitable Trust Fund, Krannert Art Museum; the Arnold O. Beckman Award, U of I Campus Research Board; and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.