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Creativity, Continuity and Change in African Art

The Fitchburg Art Museum is proud to present 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.

Traditional African art constitutes a visual language that has persisted over time and has been carried long distances.  Never static, it has evolved and yet remains recognizable and continues to be relevant in today's global culture.  From the 15th century onward, millions of Africans brought their cultures to other countries, making an impact wherever they settled.  In the late 19th century, African sculpture shifted the direction of Western art from realism to abstraction.

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, we can chart the creation of innovative versions of older forms by local artists working to serve their communities, and the creation of new forms linked to changing life-styles.  University-trained artists in Africa and abroad continue to derive inspiration from the African artistic heritage, often marrying traditional form with contemporary social content. 

GLOBAL AFRICA celebrates African creativity worldwide--whether it occurs in Africa, or England, or Cuba, or America.  Traditional and contemporary works are shown side by side.  Works by African artists whose names have been lost stand next to those of 20th and 21st-century African artists whose names are known.

Three galleries focus on three themes.  Music, Masks, Masquerades emphasizes the multi-media nature of African art and the difference between African and Western modes of display.  Beyond Indigo looks at the African presence in America, evokes the diversity of cultures represented by individuals forcibly moved from Africa to the western hemisphere, and celebrates the inventiveness of African artists working in wood, metal, and cloth.  Life/Afterlife focuses on memory, and the interrealtionship of the natural and supernatural worlds.

This exhibition was organized by Jean Borgatti, FAM Consulting Curator of African and Oceanic Art, and designed by Catherine Hunter, Independent Museum Consultant. 

GLOBAL AFRICA was made possible by a generous grant from the Geneviéve McMillian-Reba Stewart Foundation, and the bequest of William E. Teel.